Thursday, December 31, 2009
That is the hope of Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, who recently returned from New York City and was wowed by the public-private partnership operating Central Park.
The Central Park Conservancy, relying heavily on money from sponsorships, has invested more than $500 million in the showcase urban park in nearly three decades.
For those of you who do not have preconceived opinions on this subject, from the Oregon Tax News (http://naturalresourcereport.com/2009/11/taxpayers-foot-the-bill-for-environmental-lawsuits/) -- Rocky
Taxpayers foot the bill for environmental lawsuits
November 5, 2009
By Oregon Tax News,
The federal government spends about the same amount of money funding environmental lawyers as it does to protect endangered species according to an investigation conducted by a Wyoming lawyer who defends farmers and ranchers involved in environmental lawsuits.
According to the Capital Press, Karen Budd-Falen was curious how much money the federal government paid the lawyers who initiated cases against her clients and uncovered more than $4.7 billion in taxpayer money that the government paid to environmental law firms between 2003 and 2007. That represents an average of $940 million a year, compared to $922 million spent directly on the 986 endangered and threatened species, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s annual report.
According to her research, Budd-Falen found that three environmental groups—Western Watersheds Council, Forest Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity—filed more than 700 lawsuits against the U.S. government between 2000 and 2009.
“That money is not going into programs to protect people, wildlife, plants and animals,” Budd-Falen told the Capital Press, “but to fund more lawsuits.”
According to Budd-Falen, environmental groups are eligible for government funds under the Equal Access to Justice Act, which provides for the award of attorney fees to “prevailing parties” in cases against the government. The firms also are accessing government funds through the Judgment Fund, which is a line-item appropriation in the federal budget used for paying claims against the government.
“We tried to track the fees paid to environmental groups in certain federal courts. These guys are charging between $350 and $450 an hour in legal fees.” Budd-Falen told Now Public.
“If you just look at the raw number and say ‘why in the world is the United States paying a million dollars bankrolling them to sue us,’ well that’s what congress set up through EAJA. That’s the law, we’re bound by it,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Haws of Boise told Now Public.
Budd-Falen found in one 15-month-long case that Earthjustice Legal Foundation and the Western Environmental Law Center filed for $479,242 in attorneys’ fees.
Brian Smith, a spokesman for Earthjustice, told the Capital Press that the foundation counts on those fees because it represents groups free of charge and that if the government had been doing its job under the Bush administration, the foundation wouldn’t be so active. He believes the current Obama administration will reduce the need for environmental lawsuits.
However, Budd-Falen doubts the steady stream of lawsuits will stop, or even slow. “Why would you stop filing litigation when you can get that kind of money? They are not filing these suits to try and protect the environment. They are filing these suits to make money.”
posted by: Rocky Golub
County Transportation Authority's Citizen Advisory Committee (SMCTA/CAC) Pacifica resident Barbara Arietta was elected vice chair of the SMCTA/CAC for the upcoming 2010-2011 term.
Arietta, who has recently received a three-year re-appointment to the countywide body by the executive board of the SMCTA, has served on the San Mateo County Transportation Authority's CAC since May 2007, at which time she was appointed to fill the 2-1/2 year remaining term of a previously vacated seat.
Arietta, a 42-year resident of Pacifica, has a long history of civic commitment and leadership positions in both local, county and statewide organizations for the past several years.
Her local involvements include president of the Pacifica Democrats, director of the Pacifica Historical Society, director of the Pacifica Library Foundation, chair of the City of Pacifica's Green Building Task Force, chair of the Pacifica Community Coalition To Save Sharp Park Golf Course (PCC), member of the City of Pacifica's Golf Task Force, member of the City of Pacifica's General Plan Outreach Committee, associate member of the San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee, contributing columnist and correspondent for the Pacifica Tribune, and moderator of several city wide debates, including the most recent 2008 City Council Election and School Board Election debates.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I have been reading all day trying to find where I stand on this issue, I think I already knew but, had to make sure, so I could sleep at night. In California, the rich and powerful are subsidized, the poor and unions are subsidized and then for people like me, who are in the middle, get stuck paying the bill.
No more. I am with the environmentalists on this one. As soon as took over, she promised small farmers and organic farmers she would put an end to cotton and rice farmers getting cheap water and , she did nothing but, the opposite of her words. Democrats and Republican Leaders are just plain wrong on this issue.
Submitted by Kathleen Rogan
This just in; The bought and paid for democratic elected officials who kiss the environmentalists asses, created this insane government agency to monitor our air. Speeding around the Bay Area to intrude on family's on Christmas Day to give them a warning, Do Not Burn Wood in Your Fireplace or we will fine you $400.00.The inspectors used many gallons of gasoline spewing out toxic chemicals from their government taxpayers vehicles to warn only 47 families running around the SF Bay Area, driving over bridges, wasting more paper (poor trees) and cell phones (brain cancer/drive up health care costs), all to warn 47 families on Christmas Day. Commies? You Betcha! Thanks California Democrats. Oh and they were in Pacifica.
Another holiday, another sweep of smoke scofflaws. Bay Area inspectors found 47 violators burning wood fires illegally during Christmas Day's Spare the Air alert — which was declared because cold, unhealthful air had been forecast. View Full Story
Submitted by Kathleen Rogan
The only business growing in Michigan, is Government.
, take notice of who is ruining, oops, I mean running the biz, Democrats. I know, I know, it's Bush's fault, he would not give them a bailout.
It's no fun to kick a state when it's down – especially when the local politicians are doing a fine job of it – but the latest news of Michigan's deepening budget woe is a national warning of what happens when you raise taxes in a weak economy.
Officials in Lansing reported this month that the state faces a revenue shortfall between $350 million and $550 million next budget year. This is a major embarrassment for Governor Jennifer Granholm, the second-term Democrat who shut down the state government last year until the Legislature approved Michigan's biggest tax hike in a generation. Her tax plan raised the state income tax rate to 4.35% from 3.9%, and increased the state's tax on gross business receipts by 22%. Ms. Granholm argued that these new taxes would raise some $1.3 billion in new revenue that could be "invested" in social spending and new businesses and lead to a Michigan renaissance.
Not quite. Six months later one-third of the expected revenues have vanished as the state's economy continues to struggle. Income tax collections are falling behind estimates, as are property tax receipts and those from the state's transaction tax on home sales.
Michigan is now in the 18th month of a state-wide recession, and the unemployment rate of 6.9% remains far above the national rate of 5%. Ms. Granholm blames the nationwide mortgage meltdown and higher energy prices for the job losses and disappearing revenues, but this Great Lakes state is in its own unique hole. Nearby Illinois (5.4% jobless rate) and even Ohio (5.6%) are doing better.
Leon Drolet, the head of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, complains that "we are witnessing the Detroit-ification of Michigan." By that he means that the same high tax and spend policies that have hollowed out the Motor City are now infecting many other areas of the state.
The tax hikes have done nothing but accelerate the departures of families and businesses. Michigan ranks fourth of the 50 states in declining home values, and these days about two families leave for every family that moves in. Making matters worse is that property taxes are continuing to rise by the rate of overall inflation, while home values fall. Michigan natives grumble that the only reason more people aren't blazing a path out of the state is they can't sell their homes. Research by former Comerica economist David Littmann finds that about the only industry still growing in Michigan is government. Ms. Granholm's $44.8 billion budget this year further fattened agency payrolls.
There's another national lesson from the Granholm tax dud. If Democrats believe that anger over the economy and high gas prices have put voters in a receptive mood for higher taxes, they should visit the Wolverine State.
Just a few weeks ago taxpayer advocates collected enough signatures in suburban Detroit for a ballot initiative to recall powerful Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, who was one of last year's tax-hike ringleaders. Voters seem to think there would be rough justice if for once politicians, rather than workers, lose their jobs from higher taxes.
There's been some discussion about the way CBD is reimbursed for the legal costs it incurs from its lawsuits, and I thought it would be interesting to find out how much of CBD's revenues come from lawsuits. Here's a link to CBD's financial report for 2008. Of its listed revenues of $9,214,681, the amount listed under "Legal returns" is $1,398,161. I'm assuming that includes revenues from winning lawsuits and being reimbursed for legal costs. (I know, I know, when you assume you're making an ASS out of U and ME.) That's about 15% of revenues.
Posted by Steve Sinai
Monday, December 28, 2009
Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) vs Golden Gate National Parks (GGNP) - a Distinction with a Difference
HR 6305 was an attempt to pave the way for not only the name change, but for a stated purpose change. Once designated as a ‘National Park’, versus a “Recreation Area”, the Park Service would then be able to manage the area as they would any other National Park, such as Yosemite, with a conservation trumps all else mandate.
Pelosi’s HR 6305 was strategically crafted with the majority of the language dealing with innocuous issues in the Presidio. The name change was buried deep in the language of the bill, so as to be camouflaged. It was only after inadvertently discovering an upcoming Congressional vote on HR 6305 through a Google alert that one of the S.F. dog walkers brought this to the attention of the community. It was then that thousands of Pelosi’s constituents voiced their disapproval of the Bill, causing Pelosi to yank the Bill from Congressional consideration - at that time.
History of the GGNRA:
Congress established the GGNRA on October 27, 1972 "to preserve for public use and enjoyment certain areas of Marin and San Francisco Counties, California possessing outstanding natural, historic, scenic, and recreational values.” (16 USC 460bb.) In addition to this generic statement of purpose appearing in most national park statutes, Congress included two "specific provisions" unique to the GGNRA:
First, the park was established "to provide for the maintenance of needed recreational open space necessary to urban environment and planning." The only other park with this requirement was the Cuyahoga National Recreation Area, established after the GGNRA. This statute however, does not contain the additional requirement "recreational open space necessary for urban environment and planning"…
Second, the GGNRA statute imposes a unique limitation on NPS's discretionary power for "management of the recreation area": the "Secretary of Interior..shall utilize the resources in a manner which will provide for recreation and educational opportunities consistent with sound principles of land use planning and management."
So there you have it. Maybury and Riptide had it right with respect to the GGNRA. And as for Plater, for now his fantasy name and purpose change to GGNP remains just that – fantasy. For how long it remains that is up to you.
Note - the GGNRA manages close to 60% of the open space in Pacifica.
posted by: Rocky Golub
Alludes to ggra participation and sponsorship of this event. Drawing the comparison with GGNRA.
smoke and mirrors, plater style.
maybury blog here:
Indicates a US gov't agency, GGNRA, is involved with this group wild equity. that is incorrect.
GGNRA website makes no claim. See
correct please. be more careful subsequently.
A previous commenter described a process in which environmental litigants can obtain substantial financial rewards by suing government agencies, e.g., USFWS and EPA, providing the agency with the authoritative and political cover they require to implement that which they already have the desire to implement. Below is an example of a standard, boiler plate law suit issued by Brent Plater (staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity) against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior. If you scroll down to page 18, items #8 and #9, you will see the verbage utilized to "bring home the Benjamins", as our commenter so aptly put it.
Brent Plater CA Bar No CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY -
posted by: Rocky Golub
Nothing like a good old fashioned natural disaster to bring those commercial tax dollars into the City coffers. Never has business been so good for the Chit Chat Cafe as it has been of late. The Cafe, located directly across from the crumbling cliffs of Esplanade, has customers lined up outside the door thanks to the misfortune of the residents of La Esplanade Apartments.
A sampling of these new customers finds a mix of construction and utility workers, news media personnel, tourists and disaster gawkers patronizing the normally sparsely crowded beach front cafe. Other businesses in the Manor Plaza are likewise experiencing a spike in customer traffic.
Yes, it appears as though our environment, a crumbling and deteriorating one at that, is indeed our economy. Apparently Sue Digre has 20-20 vision while the rest of us are wearing bifocals.
posted by: r. roads
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Our President Obama receives the Nobel Peace Prize
Full text of speech http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34360743/ns/politics-white_house/
Yes, President Obama is the President who represents all the people of this country, and our President receiving such a prestigious award is an honor for all Americans. Yet, Steven Crowder who was passed-off yesterday as a "journalist" in another blog article (Syringes, Wild Dogs...), also offers his video commentary on the President's prestigious award (same website) http://stevencrowder.ning.com/ . Freedom-of-speech? Sure. Propaganda, intent to mislead? You betcha. Funny if you're a skin head, probably embarrassing or "enough to make you sick" if you're a moderate, middle-of-the-road, conservative Republican, or, any other person with a brain.
One of the core values of those who sponsor this public blog is "fact based, fact driven" information, even when the intelligent intent is edgy or sarcastic. There is no commentary censorship, but shouldn't posted articles be held to a higher standard?
Posted by Kathy Meeh
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Editor's note: The headline is Kathleen's. I have not injected any personal political bias into it. As everyone knows, I am completely fair and balanced, and undeniably treat everyone equally and with the utmost respect. (Even those who don't deserve it, e.g., Simons.) - Steve Sinai
Stop the People from leaving. How do we do that? Vote All Anti-Business People out of office.
Would that mean voting all democrats out of office? Almost, not all, just the ones who are in denial.
Submitted by Kathleen Rogan
I just found these interesting articles that my father collected on the Coastal Commission, which I thought you might like to share with the group. My guess is that they were printed in the late 1970s or early 1980s. The columnist is Guy Wright.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Merry Christmas to all!
A few tips to live by.
1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants..
4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, and Empathy
5. Make time to pray.
6. Play more games
7. Read more books than you did in 2009 .
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.
11. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don't have negative thoughts on things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13. Don't over do. Keep your limits.
14. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need..
18. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner of His/Her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present .
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. You don't have to win every argument. ....
25. Call your family often.
26. Each day give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything..
28. Spend time w/ people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
32. Do the right thing!
33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
34. Remember this too shall pass..
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change...
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
37. The best is yet to come..
38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it..(doesn't matter which god just be thankful)
39. Your Inner Child is always happy. So, be happy.Be thankful for your mistakes. 40. They will teach you a valuable lesson.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
posted as a public service by: r. roads
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
posted by: r. roads
I am posting the following article (from Yahoo news and cited on Riptide: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20091220/lf_afp/lifestyleclimatewarminganimalsfood) ONLY to emphasize how far awry today's extreme, soulless environmental movement, led by the likes of Brent Plater, John Curtis, Dyer Crouch et al, has gone. At one time, I was a great supporter of the environmental movement. We did some pretty good things back then. But that day is gone. Today's radical green movement which emphasizes elimination of humans and their pets, punishing economic well being, and the artifical inversion of the food chain, has left me far behind in the carbon saturated dust. I am calling for a return to a saner, more pragmatic form of environmentalism - which is pretty much where everyone else is.
Polluting pets: the devastating impact of man's best friend
PARIS (AFP) – Man's best friend could be one of the environment's worst enemies, according to a new study which says the carbon pawprint of a pet dog is more than double that of a gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle.
But the revelation in the book "Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living" by New Zealanders Robert and Brenda Vale has angered pet owners who feel they are being singled out as troublemakers.
The Vales, specialists in sustainable living at Victoria University of Wellington, analysed popular brands of pet food and calculated that a medium-sized dog eats around 164 kilos (360 pounds) of meat and 95 kilos of cereal a year.
Combine the land required to generate its food and a "medium" sized dog has an annual footprint of 0.84 hectares (2.07 acres) -- around twice the 0.41 hectares required by a 4x4 driving 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles) a year, including energy to build the car.
To confirm the results, the New Scientist magazine asked John Barrett at the Stockholm Environment Institute in York, Britain, to calculate eco-pawprints based on his own data. The results were essentially the same.
"Owning a dog really is quite an extravagance, mainly because of the carbon footprint of meat," Barrett said.
Other animals aren't much better for the environment, the Vales say.
Cats have an eco-footprint of about 0.15 hectares, slightly less than driving a Volkswagen Golf for a year, while two hamsters equates to a plasma television and even the humble goldfish burns energy equivalent to two mobile telephones.
But Reha Huttin, president of France's 30 Million Friends animal rights foundation says the human impact of eliminating pets would be equally devastating.
"Pets are anti-depressants, they help us cope with stress, they are good for the elderly," Huttin told AFP.
"Everyone should work out their own environmental impact. I should be allowed to say that I walk instead of using my car and that I don't eat meat, so why shouldn't I be allowed to have a little cat to alleviate my loneliness?"
Sylvie Comont, proud owner of seven cats and two dogs -- the environmental equivalent of a small fleet of cars -- says defiantly, "Our animals give us so much that I don't feel like a polluter at all.
"I think the love we have for our animals and what they contribute to our lives outweighs the environmental considerations.
"I don't want a life without animals," she told AFP.
And pets' environmental impact is not limited to their carbon footprint, as cats and dogs devastate wildlife, spread disease and pollute waterways, the Vales say.
With a total 7.7 million cats in Britain, more than 188 million wild animals are hunted, killed and eaten by feline predators per year, or an average 25 birds, mammals and frogs per cat, according to figures in the New Scientist.
Likewise, dogs decrease biodiversity in areas they are walked, while their faeces cause high bacterial levels in rivers and streams, making the water unsafe to drink, starving waterways of oxygen and killing aquatic life.
And cat poo can be even more toxic than doggy doo -- owners who flush their litter down the toilet ultimately infect sea otters and other animals with toxoplasma gondii, which causes a killer brain disease.
But despite the apocalyptic visions of domesticated animals' environmental impact, solutions exist, including reducing pets' protein-rich meat intake.
"If pussy is scoffing 'Fancy Feast' -- or some other food made from choice cuts of meat -- then the relative impact is likely to be high," said Robert Vale.
"If, on the other hand, the cat is fed on fish heads and other leftovers from the fishmonger, the impact will be lower."
Other potential positive steps include avoiding walking your dog in wildlife-rich areas and keeping your cat indoors at night when it has a particular thirst for other, smaller animals' blood.
As with buying a car, humans are also encouraged to take the environmental impact of their future possession/companion into account.
But the best way of compensating for that paw or clawprint is to make sure your animal is dual purpose, the Vales urge. Get a hen, which offsets its impact by laying edible eggs, or a rabbit, prepared to make the ultimate environmental sacrifice by ending up on the dinner table.
"Rabbits are good, provided you eat them," said Robert Vale.
posted by: Rocky Golub
Great site to see what weather you may expect in your travels.
Submitted by Lance Fernork
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Winter wonderland song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94GMuZttVeY&feature=response_watch
North Pole Facts & Figures The City of North Pole is a Home Rule Charter city and operates under the Council-Mayor form of government. The mayor and six (6) council members are elected for terms of three years, with two council members elected each year. The city has an annual operating budget of 3.6 million dollars, and derives its revenue from a four percent sales tax and a 3.0 mill rate levied against properties. The city provides Police, Fire and Emergency Medical services to its residents. The city also maintains streets and roads within the city limits and operates water and wastewater treatment facilities. Electric and phone service is provided from outside the city. The city provides 10 full time police, 10 full time fire members, 30 volunteers, 3 full time water and sewer service and public works employees. City clerical staff includes an accountant, clerk, public works director, accounts receivable/receptionist. Population 2,099 (2008), within 15 miles 30,440. Incorporated 1/16/1953, city land area 4.1 square miles. Weather extremes -78 Winter, 95 Summer. http://northpolealaska.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=77
Posted by Kathy Meeh
Sunday, December 20, 2009
IMHO, the most important clip of all, is this 14 minute excerpt of Biologist Karen Swaim's presentation.
Before viewing, it is important to have an appreciation of who Karen Swaim is. I've included her introducing her credentials at the beginning of the clip.
Here is what you need to know: She has been studying the Ca. red leg frog and SF garter snake at Sharp Park/Mori Point/SFO for over 20 years. She has been called on as an expert on these critters and this habitat by the GGNRA as well as the Department of Fish and Wildlife, before being called on again for this purpose on the SF Rec and Park report. She helped design the frog pond habitat at Mori Point for the GGNRA.
She is not a golfer, and does not give a rat's ass about golfers, Alister McKenzie, or the Sharp Park golf course. Her scientific work is the basis for the recommendation to keep the 18 hole course to protect the habitat. This is why:
Her prez speaks for itself, but here are a few of her choice quotes:
"Our goal is to provide the science about the biology of what is best for the San Francisco garter snake..."
"Golf is not what is responsible for the decline of the San Francisco garter snake."
"This is a photograph from 1928. There is no golf here. The land surrounding Laguna Salada to the East, to the South, to the North, everywhere except the ocean, was agricultural fields. It is not pristine upland coastal prairie that would've been high quality upland for the San Francisco garter snake. You can see that there is a major channel up here [points to Laguna Salada] that illustrates there was connection to the ocean."
"1946 is the very first year the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog were documented... there are 46 [garter snakes] he gets over two years, and golf has already been here for 16 years."
"In 1978 Sean Berry did his studies and he observed 37 San Francisco garter snakes along this area... and again golf has been in place for 46 years"
"1989 - This [photo] is not long after the the El Nino storms and the big storms of the eighties that resulted in a lot of sea water intrusion into the lagoon. By now, the sea wall is mostly constructed... From 1986 to 1988 some studies were done and no San Francisco garter snakes were found in this area after all the salt water intrusion. That was to a large part because the red legged frog was wiped out by the salt water."
"We're back to present day conditions... the frogs are prolific west of highway one, they are not in any trouble at all west of highway one. San Francisco garter snakes are concentrating again at Mori Point pond and horse stable pond."
"You need to protect the sea wall. You need to have a fresh water managed habitat currently for this species to recover it, and that is all there is to it."
cross-posted from MW mobile blog.
Wow, it only took the Coastal Commission 2 years to approve the permits . . . reading the comments by noted pro-development experts like Larry Rosenstein and disgraced former Planning Commissioner Todd Bray over on Riptide (in regards to the local permit approval process), this was a rush job.
Oh, so now its NOT about the snakes and frogs, the seawall, the polluted water in the lagoon, golfers maliciously killing threatened species, rising sea levels, citing the McCain/Coburn report that a project to pump treated water to the golf course is a waste of money, or how keeping the golf course intact will threaten the very planet on which we live (**Author's Note: all the arguments listed have been used by Brent except the last one, but I expect to hear this sooner rather than later.)
Now its about the $$$, or as Puff Daddy so eloquently put it: It's all about the Benjamins baby.
Seems like Plater should have been an attorney for the tobacco industry, since he takes so many plays from their playbook: Never admit you're wrong, and then change your argument once you're proven wrong. Of course Plater fails to mention that the option to close the golf course and "restore" the natural habitat WAS A MORE EXPENSIVE OPTION.
So there Plater sits, deeper in the sand trap than when he started, refusing to admit defeat no matter how many times he fails to get his shot on the green. He just keeps hacking away, absorbed in his own self-importance, and refusing to see that he is holding up play for the golfers stuck behind him.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Like dogs? Take the Winter chill off and Rock...
Posted by Kathy Meeh
Friday, December 18, 2009
As the Board worked it's way through five tedious hours on other issues to get to item number 11 on the Agenda that afternoon, the restlessness grew among the stalwart attendees, who had gathered as much as two hours before the scheduled 2 PM meeting start. However, for the Sharp Park Golf Course supporters still remaining in the hearing room, as the clock approached 7 PM, the final decision was worth the wait...In an unanimous vote of 5-0, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Board of Commissioners voted to adopt SF Recreation and Parks Dept (SF RPD) General Manager Phil Ginsberg's recommendation to proceed with a habitat restoration plan for the both the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake (SFGS) and the threatened California Red-Legged Frog (CRLF), while preserving the historic, 18-hole, Alister MacKenzie-designed golf course.
The vote came after a vigorous period of public hearings, meetings and controversial debates in both San Francisco and Pacifica. Thursday's approval of the Sharp Park Conceptual Alternatives Report came on the heels of a five-month study and one-month public hearing and comment period, pursuant to an Ordinance, adopted May 12, 2009 by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which requested that a study be made for recommendation of the best alternative for the restoration of the habitats of the endangered SFGS and the threatened CRLF at Sharp Park Golf Course.
The December 17, 2009 SF Rec and Park Commissioner's vote is the second most important of three significant votes that will determine the future of the Sharp Park Golf Course. The other two are the initial vote of the SF Park, Recreation and Open Space Committee (PROSAC) and the ultimate vote of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (SF BOS). The first important vote, the PROSAC vote, occurred on December 1, 2009. In a 14-1 vote PROSAC overwhelmingly voted to approve SF RPD General Manager Ginsberg's recommendations to restore the habitat, while at the same time, keeping the Sharp Park 18-hole golf course. PROSAC'S December 1st vote/recommendation was sent to the SF RPD Board of Commissioner's, for their review and separate vote on the issue. The results of the December 17th SF RPD Board of Commissioner's separate vote will now be submitted to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (SF BOS), whose ultimate vote will be the third and most important vote on the future of the Sharp Park Golf Course. That decision is not expected to take place until sometime in the latter part of 2010.
For the better part of the past three years, the "Golf War" has been waged. Initially it appeared to be a contest to keep the Sharp Park Golf Course an affordable one, against the looming threat of it being taken over and "up scaled" to a price out of the reach of the average golfer that presently plays the course. But, that battle, that saw polarities created and "lines being drawn in the sand", by the perceived "upscale" golfing advocates from courses located in San Francisco versus the "average working man" golfing advocates from the Sharp Park Golf Course located in Pacifica, quickly paled by comparison to the threat of losing the golf course entirely as requested by environmentalist groups, that were demanding that the venerable course be destroyed and ultimately turned into expanded wetlands and a public park.
With the realization that a successful attempt to destroy the Sharp Park Golf Course might be the precursor for other golf courses' destruction in the San Francisco stable of courses, the bickering groups quickly saw the wisdom in stopping the infighting with each other and unite as allies in a common cause to save the historic, 77-year old Sharp Park Golf Course from being dismantled and turned into expanded wetlands. They began challenging the statements being made by the environmental groups about the closing of the course as the only answer in order to improve the habitats for the San Francisco Garter Snake and the California Red Legged Frog. Both the San Francisco and the Pacifica golfers stated that the frog, the snake and the golfers have gotten along with each other for quite awhile and although, admittedly, they agreed that the habitats for each endangered and threatened species needed to be restored, they maintained that, in doing so, it was not necessary to destroy the golf course, which has been such a great nexus for the community and source of recreation for both seniors and youth, males and females, and San Franciscans and Pacificans alike.
Although it is true that the golfers, the snake and the frog have co-existed with each other at the Sharp Park Golf Course for the past several decades, it is also true that, due to a multiple number of reasons, the habitats of both endangered and threatened species urgently need to be restored for their future successful survival and promulgation To this end, there has been much controversy about what needs to done to the Sharp Park Golf Course in order to make that happen and also what would be the most cost-efficient approach in doing so. The choices at hand are: 1. Restore the habitats and modify the 18-hole golf course 2. Restore the habitats and change to a 9-hole golf course 3. Restore the habitats and make the golf course lands into expanded wetlands.
Many entities entered into the battle during these past two to three years, in the effort to save Sharp Park Golf Course from the powerful threat of the close-the-golf course coalition led by the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity and the San Francisco parks activist group Neighborhood Parks Council. Initially the venerable links course was valiantly defended by the stalwart leaders of the Sharp Park Golf Course, led by it's President, Dave Diller. But, quickly the co-founders of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, Richard Harris and Bo Links, joined Diller in the battle. As this was happening, the City Council of Pacifica, led by then-Mayor Jim Vreeland and Councilwoman Julie Lancelle joined the challenge and passed a resolution in 2007 supporting that the course remain an affordable course and asked to be brought to the table in negotiations with San Francisco concerning the course's future operation. In the same month of December of 2007, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors initiated their own resolution of support for the golf course. The Pacifica City Council then established its own Pacifica Golf task Force, populated by several community leaders, and led by both Vreeland and Lancelle.
As the battles waged on, it eventually became apparent that the local "Golf War Effort" needed yet one more expansion. The already established groups believed that there was a need to go out into the entire community of Pacifica and draw from all segments of the community. Heretofore, the emphasis had mostly been on those that were golfers, but now the drive was on to conduct an enhanced recruitment of diverse golf course supporters, in addition to the golfing members of the community, in the effort to save Sharp Park Golf Course and that meant recruiting non-golfers into the campaign to save the links course. A new group, called "The Pacifica Community Coalition To Save Sharp Park Golf Course" (PCC), had 135 members show up at it's first community meeting. By the time of it's second community meeting, which was a fundraiser, there were over 325 members in attendance. It quickly became clear that the sentiment to save Sharp Park Golf Corse was not relegated to just golfers. Men, women, youths , seniors, non-golfers, more golfers and residents of diverse cultures joined the ranks of the ever-growing local community organization.
The men and women of the newly formed Pacifica Community Coalition To Save Sharp Park Golf Course (PCC) immediately began taking up the challenge to promote the saving of the golf course. It's members marched in September's Fog Fest Parade, designed and distributed buttons and bumper stickers, gathered signed petitions from residents all over Pacifica, passed out leaflets, held neighborhood organizational meetings, spoke at each and every meeting of PROSAC, the San Francisco Rec and Park Dept Board of Commissioners and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meetings in San Francisco, which had the subject of the Sharp Park Golf Course on their agenda. They participated in both radio and tv debates. Wrote articles on the issues. They reached out to other community leaders in other areas of San Mateo County, who had political contacts and allies in San Francisco.
They communicated with the offices of US Senator Diane Feinstein, Congresswoman Jackie Speier , State Assemblyman Jerry Hill , San Mateo County Supervisors and San Francisco county Supervisors, as well. In addition, they received the help of 3rd District Supervisorial candidate ex-Sheriff Don Horsley, whose efforts proved to be extremely valuable in the immediate days leading up to the December 17th vote in San Francisco. The PCC, in effect, did what any well-organized political campaign would have done. In addition to the efforts of the Sharp Park Golf Club, the SF Public Golf Alliance, the City of Pacifica and the County of San Mateo, the efforts of The Pacifica Community Coalition To Save Sharp Park Golf Course (PCC) proved to be a very strong deciding factor in the outcome of Thursday's vote in San Francisco. With that vote, the second most important battle is won, but the "Golf War" is not over. All the groups will continue their efforts to save Sharp Park Golf Course until that last ultimate vote is taken by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the fate of Sharp Park is finally determined.
Meanwhile, with the SF RPD Board of Commissioner's vote now having been cast, the next step in the restoration plan will be to move into the Project Design phase, in conjunction with an ongoing Environmental Impact Report process that is currently being undertaken. The results of that report are expected by November, 2010. Then, there is the ultimate vote by the SF Board of Supervisors to be taken which is expected to be made sometime in the latter part of 2010. "Although we expect that this will be a process that will eventually take about 24 months, our first step in the immediate weeks and months ahead will be to gather all stakeholders in this process, which include the GGNRA, the City of Pacifica, the County of San Mateo, golf course architects, engineers and other professionals, and have them sit down at the table and begin the discussions on how we accomplish this project," said Dawn Kamalanathan, SF RPD Project Director. If the project remains on target, permits for the envisioned habitat restoration and golf course renovation will be issued in the year 2012.
Chair, Pacifica Community Coalition To Save Sharp Park Golf Course
P.O. Box 941
Pacifica, Ca 94044
Does Jackie Speier's smile look forced, or what? A group of Plater's minions met with Jackie Speier a few weeks ago, without much luck in changing her opinion as to the best course of action for Sharp Park.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Read all about it right hyah.
**Parks and Rec VOTES 6-0 to keep 18 hole golf course!
Kudoes to Barb Arietta and all those who spoke on behalf of the course.
In other breaking news, Riptide fails to cover this story. AGAIN.
Meanwhile, Brent Plater's tears are found to be the cause of the erosion of beachfront property at Esplanade apartments in Pacifica . . .
Of special note is Ocampo's request that the owners "donate" $60,000 for a trail, and to repair the nearby city-owned stairs to the beach. - Steve Sinai
Publication date: January 21, 2009
PACIFICA -- It doesn't take long for Bart Willoughby to make his point about the ocean gobbling up the bluff that supports his home, La Esplanade Apartments. All he has to do is point to a giant gash in the bluff face to show the erosion that is now within a few feet of his neighbor's back railings, the view a sheer drop to the beachfront below.
"The city had better have an evacuation plan. Any consecutive storms that come in could be a major problem," said Willoughby, gazing over the rail and shaking his head.
More than a year has passed since Willoughby, representing the owners of the apartment
complex and the 200 residents who depend on its safety, first attempted to get an emergency permit from the California Coastal Commission to armor the bottom of the bluff along Esplanade Avenue with 31,000 tons worth of boulders, also known as riprap.
The $4.5 million project now has everything it needs to secure an emergency permit, but there's a major holdup. The city is placing the sole beach access point off-limits to the construction crew until certain conditions are met -- conditions that could cause weeks of delay and cost up to $277,000, according to estimates by the apartment complex owners.
Looking down at the beach, Willoughby can't hide his frustration.
The building will need to be protected by riprap before crews can even get to work filling in the blufftop "blowout" hole that deepens with every winter storm.
That whole project needs to be completed by springtime before the riprap can be reinforced by concrete sheet piles and some heavy re- landscaping, according Steven O'Connor, the principal engineer handling the project.
"The residents here have a lot of anxiety and rightly so. I'm moving as fast as I can, but I have no way to do this project until the city gives us reasonable access under reasonable conditions," said Willoughby. "It seems like the city is more interested in the protection of barren property than the protection of 200 lives."
The dual threats of poor drainage and big waves have taken their toll along the full length of La Esplanade's backside along 310 to 360 Esplanade Ave., the largest unprotected bluff zone in Pacifica.
Portions of the bluff have receded by as much as 10 to 15 feet in the past year alone, estimates O'Connor. Another 15 feet is all it would take to prompt O'Connor to talk to the city about red-tagging the building, which would cause residents to lose their homes.
"It's not like an earthquake, where there's a 60 or 70 percent chance of it happening. This will happen. If not this year, in a couple years. It is going to happen, and it is going to happen soon," said O'Connor.
Pacifica's oceanside views have always come with a dose of danger. Entire homes fell into the ocean during the brutal El Nino storms of 1997-1998, and two homes that were left behind on Esplanade have since been abandoned. Local engineers say they have been hired to help homeowners contend with 50 feet or more of steady bluff retreat.
The city has never inspected the blufftop behind the apartment building, since it is not the city's responsibility to protect private property. The city could, however, be held liable for property damage in the future if it was shown that city officials prevented the building owners from making necessary improvements, O'Connor said.
Willoughby has called the conditions imposed by the city for access to the building site "frivolous" and submitted a letter on Monday arguing with many of them.
But City Engineer Van Ocampo said they are anything but frivolous, such as a requirement that the project's backers hire a geotechnical consultant to assess the stability of the city-owned access route to protect the steep, hard-packed sand bluffs from damage before and during construction.
The most contentious issue is the fact that Ocampo has declared that he will not allow the piles of riprap -- weighing at least 100 tons -- to be stored on the city's narrow blufftop before construction crews carry it to the beach. Ocampo is prepared for the trucks and excavators but worries the extra weight of the rocks would be too much.
"When you're using heavy equipment on our property, it tends to loosen up the sand. If there is any damage to our property, it may not be something we can repair any more."
Ocampo rejected a written statement from O'Connor suggesting the blufftop could handle the load based on its composition. He said the city's site was too narrow for piles of rocks that could just as easily be stored in a nearby parking lot.
O'Connor maintains the repairs will take twice as long if the rocks aren't located on the city's land because construction crews will only be able to work during one low-tide period each day.
The city also asked the apartment owners to install a coastal trail on the public land when the work is done, at an estimated price of $60,000. The main reason for this request is the city has long wanted a trail there and can't afford it, said Ocampo. But he said the city might back down on that particular request.
"If the property owners feel they do not want to do that, all they have to do is say so."
Reach Julia Scott at 650-348-4340 or at email@example.com.