Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Planning Commission meeting, Monday, February 6, 2012

Consent items - None

Public hearings - (1) Use permit and variance, applicant:  Verizon Wireless, Yosemite Drive and Humboldt Court (Frontierland Park). 
Project Description:  Proposal to install a new wireless communication facility in, including a 50 foot tall treepole with six (6) panel antennas and related equipment, at Frontierland Park. 

Recommendation and Findings - Approve with conditions (computer pages 8-9).

Other agenda items - none.

Notification of the meeting submitted by Jim Wagner.  

Posted by Kathy Meeh

New GGNRA rules. Change of property ownership, butthead.

Philadelphia Inquirer, Associated Press, 1/31/12."Ranger uses stun gun on man walking dogs off-leash"."MONTARA-- At least one witness is shaking her head in disbelief at a federal park ranger's use of a stun gun over the weekend on a man accused of walking his two small dogs without a leash in violation of park rules.

The National Park Service said the ranger hit Gary Hesterberg with the stun gun on Sunday at Rancho Corral de Tierra in San Mateo County after Hesterberg gave her a false name and then tried to walk away.  But Michelle Babcock told the San Francisco Chronicle the ranger never gave Hesterberg an explanation as to why he was being detained and then hit him with the stun gun in the back. "He just tried to walk away," Babcock said. "She never gave him a reason. ... It didn't make any sense."

Hesterberg was arrested on suspicion of failing to obey a lawful order, having dogs off-leash and knowingly providing false information, according to Howard Levitt, a spokesman for the park service.  Levitt said the ranger, who has not been identified, asked Hesterberg to remain at the scene, and he repeatedly tried to leave. She was able to stop him after deploying the stun gun, Levitt said.

The ranger was trying to educate residents about the leash requirement, he said. Rancho Corral was recently incorporated into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which last year proposed tighter rules on dogs.  Leashes would be required in open spaces where dogs currently roam untethered, and some popular dog-walking areas would be closed to canines entirely under the proposal, which has been criticized by dog owners. Park service officials and environmentalists said they want to protect some 1,200 native plant and animal species, including the Snowy Plover, a federally endangered shorebird."

This story was originally carried by the San Francisco Chronicle-- its "everywhere".  Interesting update read on
Pacifica Patch, 1/31/12.

Several months ago, I vaguely recall our city council grumbling about GGNRA stipulations, (same city council members who worked to rid this city of these properties). Oh too bad, the properties are gone, and co-existence with GGNRA ownership is more like having "another nation" in your city backyard.  

Posted by Kathy Meeh  

Monday, January 30, 2012

San Mateo County Supervisors directing county manager to negotiate for Sharp Park


1.  San Mateo County Supervisors unanimously adopted a Resolution Jan. 24, 2011, directing the County Manager to negotiate with San Francisco to preserve Sharp Park Golf Course.  For full story, and copy of SF Public Golf Alliance letter to the Board in support of the Resolution, click here.
2.  Please Say Thank You.  Write letters to the San Mateo County Supervisors, thanking them for their Jan. 24 Sharp Park resolution, and encouraging them to proceed with Sharp Park negotiations with San Francisco.   Say it in your own words.  For a list of the Supervisors and their contact information, click here.   
And please send us a copy:  info@sfpublicgolf.com.

Far & Sure
San Francisco Public Golf Alliance

Donations are greatly appreciated. To donate, please visit our website: Donations Page

 We are on Twitter (@SFPublicGolf), Facebook and our website
Contact us at info@sfpublicgolf.com
Submitted by Richard Harris

Perfect vector control storm - warmer weather, new regulations

From Oakland Tribune/Malthias Gafni, 1/20/12, "Mosquito fogging in jeopardy after new environmental regulations."

Lots of open space here "-- be aware!"
"As fears grow that an unseasonably warm winter could lead to a severe West Nile virus season in the Bay Area, statewide vector control agencies may lose their chief weapon in fighting the mosquito-borne illness. Mosquitoes already have awakened from their hibernation, and a late rain could create the perfect breeding ground for West Nile, just as a federal court ruling imposes strict regulations on the use of mosquito-abatement pesticides. The ruling, which took effect last fall, requires that pesticide use adhere to the Clean Water Act, meaning seasonal fogging may cease in parts of the Bay Area, increasing the chances humans will get infected by the potentially fatal virus, experts say. A bill that would free vector control agencies from the rules is stuck in Congress.

In addition to the regulatory and biological perfect storm, an Asian tiger mosquito infestation in Southern California threatens the rest of the state with the dangerous species, which carries not only West Nile but also dengue fever, known as "break-bone fever" because of the accompanying joint and muscle pains. This mosquito was found in Santa Clara County six years ago but was quarantined before it could spread.

Most people bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile experience no symptoms; however, 20 to 30 percent will contract West Nile fever and flu-like symptoms, including possible paralysis, and less than 1 percent will get a brain-inflammation illness, according to the Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District. Since 1999, California has had more than 30,000 reported human cases, with 1,228 deaths.

On Monday and Tuesday, scientists from the state's 65 vector control agencies will meet at their annual conference in Burlingame to discuss two of the biggest issues to hit them in decades. "This is not the time to not allow us to control the mosquitoes," said Deborah Bass, spokeswoman for Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control. "We could definitely see an increase in the number of human cases of West Nile virus," said Dr. Steve Schutz, scientific program manager for the Concord-based agency. Read more.

Submitted by Jim Alex

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Current view of City council meetings and issues in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is building a seawater desalination plant, banning bull frogs, providing shelter for the homeless. Council meetings occur during the daytime. 

Santa Cruz has 7 council members. Note:  all present.
Santa Cruz Sentinel/J.M. Brown 1/24/12. "The City Council on Tuesday approved a fifth contract with a San Francisco-based consultant amid ongoing objections from opponents of a seawater desalination plant. Water Department Director Bill Kocher said the $95,000 contract for Kennedy/Jenks would cover work on the project's Environmental Impact Report expected in April, including responding to public comments and questions about the analysis.

The cost will be shared with the city's desalination partner, Soquel Creek Water District.  Not including Tuesday's agreement, the city has approved contracts with the firm totaling $1.48 million since the 2009 fiscal year, Kocher said. The firm has billed the city and Soquel Creek Water District for $1.35 million so far, Kocher said, denying criticism the consultant had caused cost overruns.
"Once again you're being asked for a blank check," said Ron Pomerantz, a 2010 council candidate who opposes the plan.

Santa Cruz City Hall
Tuesday, the council also approved a Water Department's request to ban the sale and possession of live American bullfrogs in an acknowledgement that the invasive species threatens the California red-legged frog and spreads disease. A staff report said several pet stores, "the primary center of live bullfrog commerce in Santa Cruz," reported that the ban would not substantially hurt business.

Also Tuesday, the council, under direction from a state law passed in 2007, approved the Public Facilities zoning as one where emergency shelters can be established as a permitted use not requiring a public hearing. The zone includes government-owned lands only, including schools. The ordinance, required of all cities and counties, also identifies the Harvey West industrial area and a former cannery site in Seabright as zones where such shelters, offering a bed for six months or less, can be established though a conditional use permit. The city would be required to find those plans are compatible and not a nuisance to the surrounding neighborhood before granting the permit, a process that would allow for a public hearing."No matter where emergency shelters go, people will be concerned about them," Councilwoman Lynn Robinson said. The council began Tuesday's meeting by watching a video of Mike Tomasi, a former homeless veteran and longtime character at council meetings, giving one of his classic speeches criticizing city leaders. His speeches also often offered praise and ended with "all the love I can throw at you." Tomasi, who died Jan. 16, sat on the front row of most daytime council meetings, and the city placed a large bouquet of flowers at his seat. In a tribute to how Tomasi often greeted them, council members stood in unison to salute the flowers, offering Tomasi a final "Love ya."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Remember factory work? It still exists with skilled demands

Excerpts from The Atlantic Magazine, January/February, 2012, by Adam Davidson, "Making it in America".

Maddie  in the "clean room" smart but unskilled
"....Factories have replaced millions of workers with machines. Even if you know the rough outline of this story, looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics data is still shocking. A historical chart of U.S. manufacturing employment shows steady growth from the end of the Depression until the early 1980s, when the number of jobs drops a little. Then things stay largely flat until about 1999. After that, the numbers simply collapse. In the 10 years ending in 2009, factories shed workers so fast that they erased almost all the gains of the previous 70 years; roughly one out of every three manufacturing jobs—about 6 million in total—disappeared. About as many people work in manufacturing now as did at the end of the Depression, even though the American population is more than twice as large today...."

"...Across America, many factory floors look radically different than they did 20 years ago: far fewer people, far more high-tech machines, and entirely different demands on the workers who remain. The still-unfolding story of manufacturing’s transformation is, in many respects, that of our economic age. It’s a story with much good news for the nation as a whole. But it’s also one that is decidedly less inclusive than the story of the 20th century, with a less certain role for people like Maddie Parlier, who struggle or are unlucky early in life."....  Read the full article. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Clamor grows to rein in California pension benefits

Gilbert Robles retired as a state parole agent at age 53, able to collect a $101,195 annual pension — 94% of his final salary. Last year, six months after he retired, the Arcadia resident accepted a political appointment with the same agency that pays an additional six figures.

Scott Hallabrin took retirement as the top attorney for the state's ethics agency on June 29, 2009. The next day, he went back to the same post, as he prepared to watch his pension checks roll in on top of a salary.

Los Angeles school administrator Norman Isaacs got a 35% raise in 2006, the year before he filed for his public pension. The increase sharply boosted his retirement benefits.

Robles, Hallabrin and Isaacs acted within their rights under California's pension rules, which the Legislature's independent budget analyst recently described as "among the most generous in the country." That generosity comes with a price: The main pension system for public employees is expected to cost taxpayers $2.3 billion this year and has long-term obligations that it is $85 billion short of being able to fund.

Gov. Jerry Brown came to office promising to reduce the state's burgeoning pension costs, partly by limiting the kinds of practices that inflated the three employees' retirement incomes. Saying the system is not financially sustainable, the governor has laid out a 12-point plan to change it. He would raise the retirement age, require many employees to contribute more toward their benefits and stop allowing workers to buy retirement credit for years they don't work, among other changes.


Posted by Steve Sinai

New Bay Area Map

Clued-in from a southern California email this morning. The new map is out there on the internet. Pacifica is "Surfers",  further south "Dead Surfers". Well that's an improvement for Pacifica.  Map from Word Press.


Posted by Kathy Meeh 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Patch post: City Employee Wage, Benefits Cuts and Budget Reductions


By special request of Bob Hutchinson

New standards for school cafeteria food beginning Fall, 2012

From San Francisco Chronicle/Jill Tucker, 1/26/12, "New school food guidelines mean healthier fare."

No more mystery food
"School cafeterias will have to feature a lot more whole grain, fruits and vegetables, and reduce salt, fat and fried foods under new federal rules released Wednesday. The new regulations are the first major changes to school breakfast and lunch standards in 15 years and, for the first time, set maximum calories allowed per meal. That will mean better, healthier food for kids beginning in the fall - and a much bigger grocery bill for schools.

Cafeterias will have to forgo the cheaper enriched grains and opt for the more expensive brown rice, whole-wheat breads and whole-grain pasta. They'll have to offer a variety of fruits and vegetables - red, yellow and green leafy - as well as low-sodium protein or legumes.  Federal funding for school meals will depend on it.  

Nutrition advocates applauded the new standards for the 32 million children who participate in the national school breakfast and lunch program each day. "Parents can now imagine their children coming home from school with a new found love for spinach, sweet potatoes and whole-wheat spaghetti," said Dawn Undurraga, staff nutritionist with Environmental Working Group, which works on public health issues, in a statement. "That's a positive development that will have a lasting impact as they grow into strong, fit young adults."  Read more.

Other references: The Week, 1/26/12, links to Fox News, Guardian, TIME, USA Today, USDA.
And, a conservationist article from Wordpress, 1/14/12.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Keep California green - 5 year balanced tax ballot initiative

Excerpts from the San Francisco Chronicle/Wyatt Buchnan, 1/25/12.  "Gov. Jerry Brown's plan for a ballot initiative that would raise tens of billions of dollars by temporarily increasing the sales tax and the income tax on wealthy Californians has the support of more than two-thirds of likely voters in the state, according to a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The poll found 68 percent of likely voters - including majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents - support the proposed initiative, which the administration estimates would generate about $35 billion over five years. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has projected the measure would raise about $7 billion less. Support indicated by the poll does not mean Brown will have an easy time getting the initiative passed, however, said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the institute....

.....Under the governor's proposal, the sales tax would increase by half a cent, and income taxes would increase between one and two percentage points starting with individuals making more than $250,000 per year or couples who together make more than $500,000 per year. The taxes would expire after five years.  Steve Glazer, Brown's chief political adviser, said, "It is a positive start to our efforts to promote a balanced budget plan that implements difficult budget cuts along with temporary taxes.".... Read more.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Many local governments will face bankruptcy

San Francisco Examiner/John Seiler, 1/25/12. "Bankruptcy is the boogeyman haunting governments across America. It’s not a question of whether more cities will file for bankruptcy, but how many.  The culprit is a decade of over-spending by governments, especially on pension guarantees, and an economic slowdown that refused to flip into a robust recovery. The money just isn’t there. And it’s not going to be there even if local governments raise taxes while cutting employees and services to the bone.  

No coin, all paper, huh?
Things are just going to get worse for municipal finance. Most states, counties, cities and school districts have spent their cash reserves down to the legal minimum. And they have not  made contingency plans for another 15 percent decline in revenue in the next year. Consequently, there is the potential for thousands of defaults in the 50,000 municipal bond issuers in the United States. Most cities can cut spending, but they cannot cut principal and interest payments without default and bankruptcy.

Unlike many cities facing bankruptcy, San Jose is well-off. It’s part of the prosperous, high-tech Silicon Valley. But San Jose officials have discussed bankruptcy as a possible option to over-spending. Its prosperity turned out to be its undoing. In the November issue of Vanity Fair magazine, financial writer Michael Lewis wrote, “The city owes so much more money to its employees than it can afford to pay that it could cut its debts in half and still wind up broke.”

One city that did declare bankruptcy was Vallejo, in 2008. Unfortunately, the city missed a grand opportunity to pull itself from fiscal disaster. Government-worker unions made some concessions, such as higher payments by retirees for their health care insurance. However, pension plans for retirees and current city employees, including one that allows police officers to retire at age 50 with as much as 90 percent of their pay, remained untouched.

San Diego still bills itself as “America’s Finest City.” But the city’s pension payments are skyrocketing, from $229 million in 2010 to a projected $318 million in 2015 — 40 percent in just five years. By 2025, the number will be $512 million, a whopping 124 percent increase in 15 years. No wonder City Councilman Carl DeMaio in September turned in 145,000 signatures to put a pension-reform measure on the ballot this year. Instead of pensions, it would enroll most new city employees in 401(k) programs for retirement. It would save the city $1.2 billion through 2040.

What’s dawning on officials is that there’s no panacea to budget problems. As budget realities have started to hit home, most cities now realize that just making tweaks in pension formulas for future hires won’t solve their problems — the mushrooming retirement obligations are just too large.  John Seiler is managing editor of Calwatchdog and a former editorial writer for the Orange County Register."

Submitted by Jim Alex 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Regional government employees "average compensation"

San Francisco Employee Compensation
Graph from  The Bay Citizen, 9/4/2010

The above Bay Citizen article describes how San Francisco government workers live elsewhere, and therefore spend their money in other cities, such as Pacifica (thank you).   

Pacifica city employee compensation, 2010, again.  

The following articles describe NO advantage for public-sector workers. Information may depend on who is doing the research:
Economic Policy Institute (EPI) (10, 2010). "California public-sector workers are neither overpaid nor overcompensated." 
National Institute on Retirement Security.  State and local government employees earn less than comparable private sector employees.

Posted by Kathy Meeh 

Maybe we need a sustainable city economy, Laurie.

From Pacifica Tribune, Letters-to-the-Editor, 1/25/12, "City finances" by Laurie Goldberg.

"Editor:  I went to the forum on Financing of City Services and was alarmed that many of the proposed cuts were to services that benefit seniors, students, and the Pacifica Resource Center, which serves all Pacificans, but especially people in need. In these hard times with people losing houses, losing jobs to take away funding from such a resource is just unthinkable.

Why not look at our Police Department that has RAV's that they drive on the beach to ticket for dogs off leash? Now where is the funding coming for that? How about the City Manager's salary and others in the city government.

Where is a Robin Hood in these times where so many middle and lower class citizens are struggling to make ends meet? We need accounting of where our hard-earned tax dollars are going. Maybe we need an Occupy Pacifica." 

Helping the least among us is admirable.  Having a sustainable city would help solve that long-term financial, motivational, and structural deficiency.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Federal government vs private employer salaries and benefits

The following is an older article about Federal employee salaries and benefits from  USA Today is of general  interest. For some reason, updated articles seemed less accessible. Federal employee advantage 13% salary, 320% benefits.

USA Today/Dennis Cauchon, 3/8/2010. "Federal employees earn higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds.
Accountants, nurses, chemists, surveyors, cooks, clerks and janitors are among the wide range of jobs that get paid more on average in the federal government than in the private sector.
Overall, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist both in government and the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008, the most recent data available.

CHART: Federal salaries compared to private-sector  These salary figures do not include the value of health, pension and other benefits, which averaged $40,785 per federal employee in 2008 vs. $9,882 per private worker, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

Federal pay has become a hot political issue in recent months because of concerns over the federal budget deficit and recession-battered wages in the private sector."

Related  reference articles:
 The Economist, 1/6/11 "Public sector unions have had a good few decates. Has their luck run out?"

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Grand Jury Report 2009: "Reversing city employee cost"

Report to San Mateo county cities, June 4,2009.  This Report is now 2 1/2 year old.  San Mateo county cities are likely making changes.  Anyone have an update from Pacifica? 

City Hall funded
South San Francisco Staff Report, 8/26/09, PDF, 36 pages. San Mateo County Grand Jury Report "Controlling the trajectory of employee costs", June 4, 2009.  Motion to approve.

The following are eight (8) information Tables from the Report you may be interested in viewing:

Table 1, page 7.  "Examples of lifetime retirement pensions, not including health care benefits or annual COLAs."  Note: Pensions are based upon the last year of work salary, whereas the private sector social security formula is 40% of earned income based upon a lifetime of work, tied to a much older age.
 Table 2, page 8. 10, 20, 30 years worked salary examples,  includes formula percentage, and annual retirement pension examples. A city employee is vested following 3 years of employment..

Table 3, page 9. List of San Mateo county cities. Their retirement formulas, including safety* and regular employees.pensions. These pensions are based upon the last year of work, or the last 3 years of work.

Table 4, page 10. Cities that have changed retirement formulas for new hires. Three (3) only. These include Belmont, Brisbane, San Carlos.

Table 8, page 12.  Comparison of city population with the size of city staff size.  City staff numbers do not include part-time or seasonal workers, 2008).

Table 7, page 17. City paid absentee days per year:  Example Pacifica, 11 vacation days, 11 holidays, 2 personal days. Total allowed days per year: 4 weeks, 4 days.  Plus 2 weeks, 2 days if sick.   .

Table 6, page 20.  City percentage contribution paid for retirement to CalPERS and OPEBs.  Note: The Pacifica safety employee* percentage seems high. 

Table 5, page 22.  Other post-employment benefits as known. 

* Safety employees are police and firefighters.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Go Native fined for deadly, less than responsible crash

Go Native is a company hired by Pacifica to maintain certain weed abatement services along our streams and back hills.   Mistakes happen, but how much is 1 life and 6 injuries worth?
Go Native
Half Moon Bay Review/Mark Hoack, 1/18/12. "A Montara landscaping company faces more than $21,000 in work-safety fines following a deadly roll-over crash last year at the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve. One rider died and six were injured when a Go Native truck tumbled down a steep hillside while heading along a narrow ranch trail.

The seven men - three of whom are Coastside residents - were part of a contract work crew hired to spray herbicides at a remote section of Russian Ridge. Five of the men had no seatbelts, and most of them were reportedly riding while standing up in the truck bed. The accident occurred when the truck was navigating a narrow section of dirt road and one of the wheels slipped off the road. The vehicle toppled 300 feet down the hill, ejecting the men riding in the back.  In November, an investigator from the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent a letter informing Go Native that it faced safety violations. The violations included illegally allowing workers to stand up in the back of the truck. The vehicle also should have been equipped with some kind of guardrail if it was transporting people, said Patricia Ortiz, a Cal OSHA spokeswoman. 

"The employer knew of the dangers that someone could be thrown from the truck and suffer physical harm or death," she said. "The supervisor was driving the truck at the time of the accident. He was in charge of making sure everyone was safely secured." The four violations imposed by Cal OSHA, two of which were labeled "serious," total $21,800 in penalties, which would go to the state treasury.  The fines were due last month, but the company instead hired an employment law attorney to appeal the case.

"This company takes this very seriously and we want to make sure we have a thorough understanding before they move forward," said Go Native attorney Lisa Prince. The company was conducting its own investigation of the accident, she said, declining to provide more details. Go Native managers declined to comment on the violations.

The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, the public agency in charge of Russian Ridge, also received a warning from state inspectors following the crash. Investigators warned the open-space district it could face future fines if it didn't provide medical equipment or radios for its remote workers. The district was otherwise cleared of any responsibility for the crash. "District staff are deeply saddened by this incident," responded MROSD spokeswoman Leigh Ann Gessner. "We are confident that district staff acted appropriately at all times."

References.   Go Native, a habitat restoration company,  and Russian Ridge Open Space Reserve.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Solar flare may hit satelite communications, GPS today

Oops, there goes that satellite
"A burst of radiation on the sun's surface may trigger a geomagnetic storm on Earth today that could disrupt satellite communications and the Global Positioning System by mid-morning, scientists at the Space Weather Prediction Center said Monday.   The eruption - called a solar flare - has also sent billions of tons of matter streaming toward Earth from the sun's surface at millions of miles per hour in what scientists call a coronal mass ejection, according to Rodney Viereck, a physicist at the center in Boulder, Colo.

The sun goes through 11-year cycles of violent electromagnetic activity marked by intense sunspot regions on the surface, and right now it is moving from a "sunspot minimum" period toward a peak of activity with more intense and frequent magnetic storms during the next few years.  San Francisco Chronicle/Science, 1/24/12, read more.

The sun is bombarding Earth with radiation from the biggest solar storm in more than six years with more to come from the fast-moving eruption. 

The solar flare occurred at about 11 p.m. EST Sunday and will hit Earth with three different effects at three different times. The biggest issue is radiation, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado. The radiation is mostly a concern for satellite disruptions and astronauts in space. It can cause communication problems for polar-traveling airplanes, said space weather center physicist Doug Biesecker.  Radiation from Sunday's flare arrived at Earth an hour later and will likely continue through Wednesday. Levels are considered strong but other storms have been more severe. There are two higher levels of radiation on NOAA's storm scale — severe and extreme — Biesecker said. Still, this storm is the strongest for radiation since May 2005... the effects will stick around for a couple of days."  USA Today, 1/24/12, read more.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Monday, January 23, 2012

Don't forget - City council meeting tonight, 1/23/12

Begins at 7 pm, or shortly there after. Link to prior article and agenda.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Chinese lunar New Year 2012 - Year of the Dragon

"January 23 is Chinese New Year, and heralds the Lunar New Year of the Water Dragon, a once in every 60 years occurrence. The dragon is perceived as a mystical and auspicious creature in Chinese cultures and this year is expected to bring prosperity and transformational change." (Click Z Academy).

Image credit: Caseman via Wikimedia Commons.
2012 year of "prosperity and transformational change"
"Gong Xi Fa Ca! That’s the traditional Chinese New Year greeting that means “wishing you prosperity” in Mandarin. The first day of the Chinese New Year – which begins at midnight on January 23, 2012 – is the most important of Chinese holidays, celebrated by billions in China, and by millions of ethnic Chinese around the world. It’s a celebration that lasts for 15 days, culminating with the Lantern Festival. Each year is associated with one of twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac. For 2012, it’s the Year of the Dragon." Read more from Earthsky/Shireen Gonzaga,1/22/12.

In San Francisco a schedule of 2012 New Year's events is provided by San Francisco Chinatown.com. The annual parade occurs Saturday, February 11th, 5:15pm to 8:00pm. Bleacher seats may be purchased along the parade route. Some of us will view the parade on television.  

Posed by Kathy Meeh

Giants win NFC title over 49ers, 20-17

From the San Francisco Chronicle/Eric Branch, 1/23/12.  "With history within their grasp, the 49ers, a historically mistake-free team, fumbled away their chance to reach their first Super Bowl in 17 years.

Thanks to two fumbled punt returns by Kyle Williams - one in the fourth quarter and the other in overtime - the Giants beat the Niners 20-17 in a rain-soaked NFC Championship Game on Sunday at Candlestick Park."  Read more, includes a 3:17 video.  

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tribune guest column from 9-27-2010 - op/ed taxes and debt

City Council's Tax Appetite

Pacifica has lost its way. City Council just doesn't get it. More taxes, however prettied up and marketed, are not the answer. Tax Measure R on the November 2 ballot is another in a long line of misguided tax schemes and actually leads the way for another $6 million in new taxes within 14 months.

California unemployment is over 12%. Property values have fallen. Home sales have dropped. People are struggling to make ends meet. Personal income is flat. People are rightfully very anxious about the future. A recession is not the time to pick the public's pocket.

Here is a critical part of the official ballot statement for Tax Measure R signed by the entire City Council in August 2010:
"Pacifica continues
to spend
more than it receives"

Well, City Council wasn't kidding when they admit to spending more than they receive. It's been going on for years, and certainly made worse by the recession.   Just exactly what is the point they are trying to get across with a statement like that? Don't forget, two of the incumbents think they have done such a good job of spending more than they get that they are asking us to re-elect them!

These same 2 have been part of the process of approving salaries and benefits that Council isn't able to fund. Not a ringing endorsement of fiscal responsibility!  Salary and benefits are a huge part of our budget, as they are in other municipalities. A large difference is the ability to pay those costs. We can't afford what has been negotiated by our council over the past 12 years. 

For the past ten years, Council has been piling up the debt. The total city indebtedness is north of $125,000,000. That's $6,250 per voter. 

Employee pension debt alone from years prior to 2009 is $32 million, being paid by the taxpayers. That isn't taking into account the ongoing pension debt piling up today again. 

The City Council advertises their economic plan. Council figures this plan will generate $6 million over five years. Take a moment to look at this plan found here:.

It's all of three pages. It contains no due dates for any objective. No revenue expectations are attached to any part of the plan. The committee that produced this holds monthly meetings. No meeting minutes are available to gauge progress. No list of committee members is on the city website, and the parameters or financial background to participate in this process are unknown.

In short, our supposed roadmap out of this Council generated mess is a casual vague plan lacking due dates and revenue targets. The plan is so lacking in detail it would get you flunked out of your high school term paper class. It holds the council to no accountability standards. Give us your money and trust us says Council. You think that's right?

 Unfortunately, City Council has taken us for this ride before. In 2004, Council convinced the voters to approve a five year fire assessment tax to support Pacifica fire services. Many people expected an economic plan to be developed while the five year tax was in place to fully support fire services. Wrong. Council immediately laid off three firefighters. No economic plan was developed during the five year tax. Council broke faith. 

Over the horizon, in 2011, is the first leg of $6 million in new taxes---a $4 million public safety property tax assessment.  This tax is rigged by City Council to get around Prop 13 and will require only a majority vote, not 2/3. Adding insult to injury, only property owners will be allowed to vote.  If you are a voter and do not own property, you cannot vote. If you are a renter, you cannot vote. If two spouses are on the title of the house, only one gets to vote. If you own multiple properties in town, you get multiple votes, one for each property. If you are an out-of-town landlord or are an out-of-town corporation (Bank of America anyone?) and own property in Pacifica, you get to vote.

In conclusion, vote No on Tax Measure R in November. The Pacifica Chamber of Commerce authored the argument against this tax. Not a single hotel manager thinks this tax helps Pacifica hotels in a very tough economy. Even San Francisco is rejected new taxes and fees, demolishing the Pacifica Council's argument: well everyone else is raising taxes.  Measure R just whets the appetite of City council for more taxes next year, taxes that disproportionally keeps renters, minorities, younger people without houses from voting at all and allows out-of-town corporations to vote. The economic plan the City touts is of no value.  Council broke faith by laying off firefighters in 2004 after the five year tax was approved.

We deserve a better, leaner city budget that addresses the tough issues Council has ignored for years. 

Jim Wagner & Mark Stechbart
Submitted by Jim Wagner

Shutting down Redevelopment Agencies in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties

Excerpts from Silicon Valley Mercury News/Tracy Seipel, 1/22/12. 

Redevelopment area - Fairmont Hotel
"San Jose's storied redevelopment agency -- the state's second largest as measured by property tax revenue -- will end on Feb. 1 with a whimper, not a bang. Even before last summer, when the state Legislature signed off on Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to shut down all of the state's agencies and divert their funding to pay for schools and local government services, the city's redevelopment agency had axed dozens of positions. Its history of issuing too much debt, recent plunging local property tax assessments and continued cash grabs by the state had prompted those cuts, beginning in late 2009. While that inadvertently helped to dull some of the pain here, other cities are feeling the impact all at once.

...Over the decades in San Jose, the agency financed such downtown marquee projects as the Fairmont Hotel, the HP Pavilion and the convention center. Now, its revenues will just cover the cost of the agency's remaining staff salaries, a handful of projects already approved, and payments on its massive $3.8 billion of debt.... 
Same area - before Redevelopment

...The state Legislature created redevelopment in 1945 to eradicate blight that hampers economic development in a community. When a blighted area with low property value is developed, its property value increases and the difference, called "tax increment,'' is collected by the agencies. That money is used to issue debt to pay for the next redevelopment project, a process that's helped agencies finance major civic projects, affordable housing, community centers and business and neighborhood improvements."....  Read much more.

Reference.  Improving a city through Redevelopment, a comparison:         
San Jose 1975 and 2006.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Saving Flood Park Menlo Park style

Palo Alto Daily News/Bonnie Eslinger, 1/21/12. "To keep Flood Park open, Menlo Park may have to assume ownership of the 21-acre property from San Mateo County and then sell or lease up to a quarter of it, according to a city staff memo to council members.
Flood Park San Mateo County off Highway 101
A private school has expressed interest in building on a corner of Flood and local recreational sports teams have said they would like to make the park their home field, according to Menlo Park Community Services Manager Cherise Brandell. Other groups, including a 4-H Club, also have contacted the city. Someone even floated the idea of using part of the park for a cemetery. "There's lots of possibilities," Brandell said.

The city has indicated it would consider running the park at 215 Bay Road rather than watching San Mateo County close it because of budget constraints. But Menlo Park will have its own fiscal challenges now that the state has decided to dissolve redevelopment agencies and redirect the property tax revenue they collected to schools and other local needs, Brandell said.

The park, which reopened in November after a 13-month closure for a water pipeline project, could cost up to $400,000 a year to operate, according to Brandell. On Tuesday, the city council will be asked to approve a short-term agreement in which Menlo Park would pay the county $150,000 to continue maintaining the park through June 2013 while it explores possible revenue sources. "We want to make sure the park stays open," Brandell said. "We don't want them to close it for a year while we figure out a way to pay to keep it open."

Reference.  Flood County Park, Menlo Park. Link includes pictures of the park and a map.
Location.  South of Redwood City, East of Atherton, north of Menlo Park. Off of Bayshore Highway 101, on Bay Road, between Marsh Road and Ridgwood Avenue. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Planning another park - no economic benefit

Pacifica Tribune, Letters-to-the-Editor,1/10/12, "No more parks"."Editor:  Recently the city sent out a notice of a meeting slated for tonight regarding necessary budget cuts. Included in this notification is a link for a survey that lists a range of options that encompass cuts to PB&R, senior services, raising utility user taxes and the elimination of our police department, which would be replaced by the county. These are tough choices that unfortunately have to be made at this time.

Pacifica Vacation Rental
Pedro Point looking toward Linda Mar Beach
What doesn't make sense at this time is that a five-acre parcel on Pedro Point is being set aside in the General Plan for development into a park. If 50 residential housing units were developed on this property, at an average cost of $700,000 per unit, the property tax revenue to the city would be about $42,000. This amount is just the city's 12 percent share of the 1 percent ad valorum tax on real estate. This doesn't include the addition of special assessments, the benefits of the people living on this property shopping at local stores, etc. If this property were converted into a neighborhood park, the revenue would be $0.00. Actually it would be a negative if we have to pay to maintain it.

This is, of course, a revenue source that may not be realized in the near future. It is long term planning. However, earmarking this property for use as a park is NO planning for our economic future. Given that some of our council members have served for over a decade, isn't it about time that they begin the long-term planning for future revenue and not repeatedly keep coming back to the table with cuts and special assessments? No time like the present."

Gil Anda 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Friday, January 20, 2012

Don't fergit: San Mateo County Supervisor Carole Groom at Pacifica Democrats, Saturday Morning, January 21

On Saturday morning, January 21, 2012, San Mateo County Supervisor, Carole Groom, will give a "State of the County" presentation at the monthly breakfast meeting of the Pacifica Democrats. The event will take place in the Banquet Room of the Sharp Park Golf Course Restaurant, Sharp Park Blvd and Hwy 1, in Pacifica.

Carole Groom was elected to the Board of Supervisors in June 2010, after having been appointed in December 2008. She became President of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on January 11, 2011. Prior to her Supervisory position, she served eight years on the San Mateo City Council, including two terms as Mayor, and on the San Mateo Planning and Public Works Commissions. In addition to her current duties as a San Mateo County Supervisor, Groome was elected on January 5, 2012 as Chair of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (TA) Executive Board.

Supervisor Groom’s legislative priorities include universal health coverage, increasing the County’s stock of affordable housing through transit-oriented development, environmental protection, maintaining and preserving our County’s parks, and growing the county's local economy.

Since serving on the Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Groom has been instrumental in the creation of the Community Health Reform Advisory Committee, and the development of the first San Mateo County Children and Youth and Family Budget in 2010. She has also spearheaded Active San Mateo County, an annual conference on creating healthy communities, and Streets Alive, an annual countywide event that promotes parks and public spaces.

Supervisor Groom additionally serves on the boards of various regional planning organizations, including City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County(C/CAG), Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. She has also served on the Board of Directors for Pal Care, San Mateo Police Activities League and community Gatepath. Before joining the Board of Supervisors, Groom was Vice President at Mills-Peninsula Hospital for 18 years.

In her January 21st presentation to the Pacifica Democrats, Groome will recap San Mateo County's important 2011 issues, give an explanation of both the role and function of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, and tell the audience about the upcoming issues for San Mateo County in 2012.

All Pacifica Democrats meetings are open to the public. It is neither necessary to be a club member, nor a Democrat to attend. A full breakfast is offered for $12; Continental for $6; Coffee for $3. No purchase is necessary. Doors open at 9:00 a.m. Meeting runs from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Seating is between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. For more information or to RSVP, please call 415-246-0775 or email barietta@hotmail.com.

Submitted by Barbara Arietta

Recall three (3) city council members - Vreeland, Digre, DeJarnatt

10 year city "balanced economy" motto

In a follow-up conversation with Therese today, her intent is to recall 10 year city council three (3):  Vreeland, Digre, DeJarnatt.  She wants to get started right-away, and will need help.  If you're interested in getting involved send her an email.  

Pacifica Tribune Letters-to-the-editor, 1/17/12. "Dyer weighs in".  "Editor: I'm responding to Elaine Larsen's column, "What I would say if anyone cares to listen." My answer is yes, and I'm responding. I agree with everything you said regarding the lack of leadership in our city council, the environmentalists and the assisted living development. That is why we need the leadership in the media.

I don't have to remind people of the lawsuits, waste of money for consultants, sewer spill fines, etc. only for them to rush to the bank with their fat checks for doing nothing. They are the highest in the county. Vacant buildings, free parking except at the council meetings where if you don't put that stupid piece of paper on your windshield, even though you are in a handicapped space with your handicapped sticker in view, you will get a ticket (but I won my case). My one regret is that when I helped Bernie Sifry gather signatures for term limits it would have been for a recall and it isn't too late.

If we outsource the police department we'll have yet another vacant building, won't we, just like the old sewer plant. They haven't even mentioned if this becomes reality what the plans are for that building. I'm all for the assisted living facility since that's what Pacifica has become, a retirement center.
Be sure you attend the meeting tonight at the Community Center at 6:30 p.m. and give them hell. I already sent my survey in, but I plan on attending. Next year will be the same thing unless we change guards, and it's long overdue. They need to step down and finish their term without salaries or benefits or be recalled. Let me know and I'll get it started. You can contact me by email at theresedyer1932@gmail,com See you Wednesday night."

Therese Dyer

Posted by Kathy Meeh

GGNRA moves into El Granada - Rancho Corral de Tierra

Half Moon Bay Review/Mark Hoack, 1/19/12. "One month after taking control, Golden Gate National Recreation Area officials are installing new gates at Rancho Corral de Tierra to help prevent illegal bonfires and outdoor parties. 

New signs posted at Rancho Corral de Tierra
Party-time is over, fences go up.
National parks officials on Tuesday put in a new fence at the end of Coral Reef Road in El Granada to block off-road vehicles from heading onto the back trails. San Mateo County Sheriff's officials say Coral Reef has been a problem spot where partygoers drive out on old ranch roads to rural clearings to drink alcohol. Last month, one such party got out of hand, and Sheriff's deputies ended up delivering several drunken teenagers to the hospital. Local firefighters were also called out to extinguish a bonfire at risk of spreading along the hillside.

The piles of garbage from last month's revelry still need to be cleaned up, GGNRA officials say. They are planning a workday with nearby residents sometime next month to clear out the trash. In the meantime, GGNRA installed the new fences and signs to warn that open fires and litter are illegal and punishable with fines."This was the first thing that neighbors asked us to get done," said GGNRA ranger Alexandra Picavet. "At the very least, this gate will help people know they've moved onto a different piece of land."
The new gates will still allow hikers to visit the trails. Similar gates could be installed at other entrances to Rancho Corral in the Moss Beach area, Picavet said.

GGNRA fully acquired stewardship of the Rancho Corral property last month as part as $20 million purchase with the Peninsula Open Space Trust. At the time of the transfer, parks officials pledged to work with surrounding communities on developing the park and its trail system."

Rancho Corral de Tierra (in Moss Beach and El Granada) references:  
Golden Gate National Recreation (GGNRA) properties. Newest property Rancho Corral de Tierra, includes maps.
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) transfer of 4,262 acres to the GGNRA. Bay Nature Innstitute, 5/25/11, 3:37 minute video.  

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Thursday, January 19, 2012

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi drama continues...

"At times like this I really miss Venezuela." (Elaina Lopez).  This article is for those who find that "beating" on past San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi is better justice than not.... you know who you are.
Those "rich" golfers on a public golf course in Pacifica.

From San Francisco Chronicle, Matier and Ross column, 1/19/12. "In an emotional interview on Venezuelan radio, the wife of embattled San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi vehemently denied she had been abused by her husband and said he was the "victim of very dirty politics."  "I am not a little Indian girl gringo victim," former Venezuelan telenovela star Eliana Lopez told the Caracas station Noticias24 on Tuesday, four days after Mirkarimi was accused of three misdemeanor charges.

The charges - domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness - stem from an incident that took place at the couple's Western Addition home on New Year's Eve in which Mirkarimi allegedly bruised Lopez's arm. Lopez told a neighbor, who went to police, authorities say. Lopez told reporters Friday at City Hall that "I don't have any complaint against my husband. We are together, and we are fighting this."

In the 20-minute, Spanish-language interview with Noticias24, Lopez said that what happened New Year's Eve was much more complex than has been reported. She said "the richest people in California are behind" an attempt to ruin her husband, according to a Chronicle translation of the interview.
Lopez suggested that her husband's progressive stances on jail issues - his desire to break the "vicious cycle" of incarceration of minorities, the homeless and mentally ill - made him unpopular with certain elements in the city. "They couldn't win the election, so they fired this up as a way to take him down," she said. "They want to destroy his credibility. ... They know this is a political persecution."  Read more if you must.

San Francisco Chronicle, Matier and Ross column, 1/18/12.  This article links to a CBS news video.
Prior Fix Pacifica article and comments, 1/14/12, the driver's license photo.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

City Council meeting, Monday, January 23, 2012

Attend in person, 2212 Beach Boulevard, 2nd floor.  Or, view on local channel 26, also live feed internet www.pct26.com.  The meeting begins at 7pm (but usually starts a few minutes late).  Agenda, 1/23/12, 66 pages. 

A.  Closed session (6:15pm)
1)  Labor negotiations, Waste Water Treatment Plant, Local 856. Conference with labor negotiator
Building our city revenue 1 car at a time.
2)  One potential litigation. Conference with legal council.


B.  Open session (7:00pm)
Call to order, salute to the flag, commission liaisons, closed session report (if any).
Consent Calendar (pass through), pages 1-2.
1.  Approval of cash disbursements.
2.  Approval of Minutes (meeting of 1/9/12).
3.  Amend city franchise tow franchise agreement.  Add a $50.00 city fee per police citation tow, which is expected to generate $25,000 city revenue per year.
4.  Adopt off-leash dog park ordinance, 1220 Linda Mar Boulevard.
Special Presentation
Recology of the Coast update - Chris Porter
Public hearing
5.  Two challenge appeals from San Pedro Creek Watershed Coalition and Neighbors Concerned about Pacifica against the Assisted Living Center final EIR certification. Recommend to continue to the next meeting, the appeals for the Assisted Living Center cannot be heard. There will not be a city council quorum at this meeting..
6.  Appeal of denial of business license for Cannabis Wellness Center, Patient Resource Center and Dispensary.
7.  Request for Proposal (RFP) professional auditing services for city's CAFR fiscal year 2011 audit. Periodic rebid audit. 

C.  Adjourn to joint city council/redevelopment agency meeting
1.  Approval of minutes 8/8/11.
2.  Dissolution of Redevelopment Agency.  1) Resolution that the city serves a successor agency. 2) Resolution adopting an enforceable obligation payment schedule.  2004 Bonds debt service total -$2,626,325. Borrowed from Agency 1985-1994 total -$6,209,971. Grand total debt to be repaid: -$7,749,971 (as of 6/30/11). See pages 56, 57, 65, 66. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh