Pacifica Tribune My Turn article, 11/23/11, page 7A, "Re: point of sale clause" by Tod Schlesinger.
|Enlightened Pacifica property owner|
Follow me so far? It’s a slam dunk, you’re not at fault and his insurance will pay for it. Except . . . he negotiates a settlement with YOUR insurance company without your knowledge or consent that YOU will pay to fix YOUR car. And he only informs you of you’re right to protest the settlement on a late Friday afternoon when the settlement is due to be signed on Monday. Does that sound fair?
Of course not, and that is exactly what the City Council of Pacifica just did to the homeowners of Pacifica. After allowing 7.5 million gallons of sewage to spill out of the Calera Creek Waste Treatment Plant in 2008 (mostly due to their neglect and mismanagement of the plant), the City Council has negotiated a settlement to pay for their fines by passing a point of sale clause in all future home sales in Pacifica which says homeowners must now inspect and upgrade THEIR sewer laterals.
Here’s the facts: in late January 2008 the City of Pacifica allowed 7.5 million gallons of mostly untreated sewage to spill out of the plant and into the ocean. Weeks later, at least 2 council members (Vreeland and Dejarnatt) claimed the spill and clean up were due to “tar balls”. It was only after a private citizen dug a little and discovered it was a massive sewer spill that the City Council finally admitted it to the public.
What caused the spill? According to the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the plant was overloaded with I and I (inflow and infiltration) from a heavy rainfall. But the sewer plant has 5 “Sequence Batch Reactors” to process this heavy flow. However, one of those SBRs had been down for repairs since October 2007, and was not scheduled to be repaired until March 2008 . . . AFTER the heaviest rainfalls!! The plant was only functioning at 80% capacity as it headed into the wet season.
The same report also said the city should have been spending about $1 million per year on sewer main and sewer line upgrades, but instead was spending about $100,000. Where did all that money go? Money the homeowners and businesses paid as part of their ever increasing sewer fees? Why, the city council and their no growth supporters decided it was better to discourage new housing and businesses in Pacifica, and they transferred that money from the sewer fund to the general fund to plug gaping financial holes in the city’s budget. This was a practice the Big Horn decision later ruled was illegal.
So after the city received a record fine by the RWQCB and was sued by the environmental organization Our Children’s Earth, they negotiated a settlement by which the problem would be solved . . . or rather paid for by a point of sale ordinance they snuck on to a recent agenda at the last minute. The ordinance passed unanimously 4-0 (Councilman Vreeland was unable to attend the meeting for unknown reasons). Only 6 people spoke to oppose this ordinance, including members of the San Mateo County Association of Realtors. Too little too late, in my book. They had the opportunity to endorse 2 Realtors for City Council in 2008 and balked.
Bottom line is that millions of dollars will be paid by the homeowners over the next 20 years to pay for a mistake that falls squarely on the shoulders of the longest termed council members.
Think of my story, and replace the car with a giant truck barreling down Manor Drive, or Fassler. And there you homeowners are at the bottom of the hill completely unaware you’re about to get crushed."
Submitted by Jim Alex