Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pre-reclined seats good for city council meetings

City Council Meeting - May 10, 2010

Spirit Airlines (the people's airline) installs seats that recline slightly.

Spirit Airlines is installing seats with a slight permanent lean back, which seem perfect for watching city council meetings, while nodding-off with one eye open but not comfortable enough to fall asleep. Here's a few items of importance from city council this week.

1.  City council voted 5-0 for smoke free movies.  No movie theater in this city.

2.  Sewer rates up 5.39%, zero operational cash reserves. No discussion about that this year, and no explanation. No discussion about a whopper of a sewer bill coming next year  (50 year old city wide collection pipes need replacing). Its election year, so this issue has been deferred. Discussed ad nausea were the rules and requirements of citizen protesting sewer rate "fees":  51% of mailed protest letters would need to be received and verified as authentic citizens who own property. As we know roughly 38,000 people live in Pacifica, assume 25% own property, the sewer rates are usually disclosed about 1 month prior to city council approval, well you see how that goes.  About 30 property owners did accept the sewer advisement rate increase green sheet "invitation to protest" by mail (e-mail response is not accepted). In any event this exercise in drama took-up about 15 minutes this meeting, and about the same last meeting. 

3.  Mega home ordinance: 2,800 square foot review - finally back after last meeting and 1 year. Where did this ordinance go for 1 year, hello, anyone home at city hall?
Isn't 2,800 square feet a little above average for most suburban cities outside Pacifica?  4-1 approval, not much conversation this time.  Only Councilmember Mary Ann Nihart thought a higher square footage (possibly 3,000) would be a better Planning Commission review trigger. In dialog (as I recall) one city councilmember mentioned some people in  live in 900 square feet houses. And, as we know some people in Pacifica would prefer an even smaller living-space foot print, video .

In reference to your perceptive 5/12/10, 9:12 am comments Sharon, I've been watching the existing city council and their meetings for 8 years, and the following is my view.  The vital, necessary, important economic planning and improvement issues are not being attended to by city council except by default.  The directive is thumbs down on a sustainable city economy, contractors and developers have given-up. Last year city council attempted to pass another tax to citizens (Measure D)  with more planned next year (not this election year), and two more attempts at permanent taxes following that.

The role of 8 year city council has become ceremonial, a "feel good" approach to governance, embracing the joys of unproductive open space, volunteerism and "pet projects".  Council meeting are more like show and tell, pat on the back for friends, a dog and pony show, the circus with the clowns in charge of the ring. That why this city need a change of direction, replacing city council with genuine pro-economy candidates in an attempt to save what's left of this city. This is the year to do that, join campaign efforts. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh


Sharon said...

Thanks for your persistent efforts on reform in our goverment and thankless reporting. I was thinking about this on my way home from work yesterday, seems to me to me these folks need a boss to report to, specific guidlines and deadlines for getting their job done. The way its done in the private sector. Unfortunately, we are their boss and it seems we don't care since we don't show up to the council meetings and I include myself in that group!

Pacifica Truth Police said...

Overheard at the last City Council meeting:

DeJarnatt: "Just heard some study came out which names Pacifica as the "most corrupt city" in San Mateo County."

Vreeland: "No way we're more corrupt than East Palo Alto! They musta paid somebody off…."

Anonymous said...

I hear a lot about this "large sewer rate increase" slated to be brought to the table next year.

Would someone be so kind as to point/link to the relevant info regarding this. What numbers are we talking about?

Many thanks.

Pacifica Truth Police said...

Relevant info regarding "large sewer rate increase"

Jeffrey W Simons said...


I can't seem to find a link to the actual RWQCB report, but here's a little background:

The City of Pacifica received a $2.3 million fine from the Regional Water Quality Control Board and a lawsuit from Our Children's Earth for the 7.5 million gallon sewer spill in January 2008 (which they tried to hide as "tar balls" until I was able to pry a spill report from the city via a public records request).

This fine and lawsuit were discussed in closed session at the recent city council meeting.

Integral to the findings of the RWQCB were that Pacifica's sewer infrastructure is inadequate to deal with storm water runoff, and they place the blame squarely on the City Council:

"For years, the City has failed to adequately identify and address collection system problems including failure to detect and eliminate storm water infiltration into the collection system. Had the City initiated timely corrective actions, it could have avoided: (1) the collection system overloading (exceeding capacity) and the resultant spills; and (2) the wastewater treatment plant bypass."

(Somewhere in the report it also states the city should have been spending an estimated $1 million per year for these infrastructure repairs, and instead they spent only $125,000 while siphoning $700,000 into the General Fund to cover for its anemic lack of growth.)

Regardless, the estimates to make these repairs range upwards to $50 million. It is highly likely the city will have to start making massive rate hikes to cover this expense, starting next year.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jeff.

Kathy Meeh said...

Sharon, we should not have to be looking over the shoulder of our city council to see if they are doing the right thing, nor should we have to show up at city council to lobby for what should be standard city maintenance and improvement expectations from citizens.

What city council rejects a balance city economy in favor of "recreation is our economy", then excludes most tax revenue producing recreation? Look at this city, in recession years before there was a recession. No city council could be this incompetent without a plan-- they cannot and will not fix the problem, they are the problem.

Thanks for the sewer collection pipes detailed information comment Jeff. And maybe the Truth Police 5/13,12:25PM link could be the incumbent city council logo for their 2010 campaign. .

Julie said...

But Jeff, The Sewer plant is state of the art!

Jeffrey W Simons said...


the sad reality is that tertiary treatment plant COULD have been a source of pride and environmental consciousness had it been managed properly. Instead, City Council treated it like an ATM while polluting the environment from years of neglect.

Here's my concern, and how deeply the wool has been pulled over people's eyes in regards to this sewer plant. The RWQCB report clearly states the 7.5 million gallon sewer spill in January 2008 was AVOIDABLE. I agree 100%. And both the RWQCB and Dave Gromm have publicly stated the plant was so overwhelmed "WE ALMOST LOST IT" (per Dave Gromm). Yet no one blinked when Pete Dejarnatt and Jim Vreeland lied through their teeth about the reason for the beach closures, or when they went after Julia Scott and the San Mateo County Daily Times for exposing the cover up.

Back to the spill . . . though flowrates were unusually high for that storm and exceeded plant capacity for several hours, there were 2 mitigating factors that contributed to the spill and almost overwhelmed the plant:

#1 - one of the Sequence Batch Reactors had been damaged back in September 2007 and was off line. Since there are 5 SBRs this constitutes a decrease in plant capacity of 20%. Yet the SBR was not scheduled to be fixed until late March 2008. To recap, the city calculates your sewer rates based on the 2 months of heaviest rainfall, which are usually January and February. In other words, the city KNOWINGLY delayed fixing this SBR until AFTER the 2 months of heaviest rainfall.

#2 - Let's say for argument sake the city had not been using the plant as an ATM for the General Fund, and had instead been spending the recommended $1 million per year to address the I&I (inflow and infiltration) problems with the sewer mains. (As opposed to the $125,000 they spent). The cost for complete upgrades and repairs is estimated up to $50 million, but even if they had spent $5 million over 5 years, and had focused on the worst sections of the city's sewer mains, it would have significantly reduced the I&I during these heavy storms.

It really astounds me that this is all fact, none of it opinion, and all verifiable by different sources (even the city's own records). For Pacifica to claim some type of environmental leadership from this current City Council when their neglect and malfeasance contributed to the 2nd worst sewer spill in the Bay Area . . . it seems worse than hypocritical, or just ignorant. It seems delusional.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, based on your info, I believe I found the report:

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Kathy, Your #1 was not about whether or not we have a movie theater, but rather supporting our young people as they try to become involved in government and civic duty. My daughter is part of the Youth Leadership Council and the Tobacco Prevention Group. The council's resolution was support for them and their work. Thanks to Councilmember Mary Ann for helping them through the process. My daughter says she learned a lot. We should support the involvement of more young people, not belittle what they are doing. I have often thought this blog is mean spirited, but now we are missing the point of supporting our children's efforts. That's just wrong.

Julie said...

Waaaa Jeff, you big bully. You are using Karl Rove tactics on me..

Kathy Meeh said...

Anonymous, City Council supported no-smoking in movie theaters. Pacifica has no movie theater. Two related statements. Suggesting that I wouldn't support the efforts of young people is just plain wrong, goofy in fact.

The city is going in the wrong direction, has been for 8 years, shouldn't be, normal city infrastructure maintenance and improvements are expected. That isn't happening here. That is not mean spirited, that is fact.