Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reporter Butler's Trib article

Pacifica Climate Group: Keep Studying Sharp Park
BY IAN BUTLER Special to the Tribune

The Pacifica Climate Committee, a citizens group working since 2007 to study the local impact of climate change, has written to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Recreation and Park Department, urging them to “commit to long-term planning for the impacts of sea level rise and climate change on Sharp Park, and delay any planning decisions regarding Sharp Park until such planning is complete...The recently released Sharp Park Conceptual Restoration Alternatives Report omitted any analysis of sea-level rise and climate change impacts...therefore, the scope of this report is too narrow upon which to base long-term planning decisions.” The letter is dated December 21, 2009, and signed by Committee member Cynthia Kaufman.

The committee has been involved in climate change-related activities in Pacifica, such as creating an inventory of Pacifica’s non-municipal greenhouse gas emissions, celebrating International Climate Action Day on October 24, developing a “low-carbon diet,” and hosting the Community Climate Forum at Council Chambers on June 18, which featured Assemblymember Jerry Hill and then-Mayor Julie Lancelle.

Councilmember Lancelle was surprised that the City of Pacifica, which has been working with the committee, was not sent a copy of the committee's letter. She pointed out that “the City Council approved the formation of a Pacifica Climate Action Plan Task Force at the request of members of the Pacifica Climate Committee...Without a doubt, we are very concerned about the long-term effects of climate change.” The city is conducting interviews for the task force this week.

Dawn Kamalanathan, planning director of San Francisco Rec & Park, which prepared the alternatives report, echoes those sentiments. “The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department is absolutely interested in and committed to exploring the long-term impacts of sea rise on Sharp Park.” Dawn stated in an email response to the Pacifica Climate Committee letter, “Our intent is to conduct this exploration in full partnership with the County of San Mateo and City of Pacifica, as the potential impacts of sea rise on that region extend beyond the boundaries of Sharp Park.”

But at Pacifica Council Chambers on December 11, David Munro, one of the lead authors of the Rec & Park report, indicated that the report focused primarily on helping the highly endangered San Francisco garter snake recover in the short term. He said, “We’re looking at a planning horizon that takes into account events that will happen before sea level rise becomes too significant.”

For Celeste Langille, Pacifica planning commissioner and Climate Committee member, more long-term planning is needed. “You need to do all the analysis before you decide on a course of action,” she said. “Because the alternatives haven’t been studied, I don’t know what would be better for flooding for the neighborhoods. That’s why there needs to be planning for 50 to 100 years out.” Although the Rec & Park report included a no-golf alternative, a 9-hole alternative, and its preferred 18-hole alternative, it chose not to evaluate the feasibility of phasing out the levee or turning the property over to the National Park Service and GGNRA.

A separate study done by ARUP International, an engineering firm, looked at the condition of the levee. It recommended repairs costing between $6 million and $14 million, and requiring annual maintenance of 1 percent of initial cost. It estimated such repairs would result in “low to very low vulnerability to overtopping or breach” for 50 years.

Bob Battalio, Pacifica hydrologist and coastal engineer who helped develop the FEMA Pacific coast flood study guidelines, estimates that an effective long-term levee repair could cost closer to $30 million, and would not necessarily help. He said, “The risk of flooding from rainfall runoff is greater than the risk of flooding from the ocean. Therefore, the levee is counterproductive.”

Battalio has offered to help develop an alternative plan. “I think we can develop a plan that is sustainable, can enhance endangered species habitat, maintain our beach, and can even allow golf for at least the next few decades. Unfortunately, the existing plan has fundamental flaws inconsistent with better solutions.” He fears it would endanger the very species it is designed to protect. “Their plan places salt-sensitive species right behind the levee where they are at risk from saltwater overtopping and groundwater intrusion.”

Lancelle said she would welcome an informational meeting with Battalio, perhaps along with Councilmember Jim Vreeland, who she said is “very well versed in coastal planning.” But she urged that “the long-term planning effort should not delay what needs to be done soon to maintain the coastal trail and golf course at Sharp Park and, most important, protect the endangered species habitat there.”

Unfortunately, the City of Pacifica has its hands full. As Commissioner Langille put it, “Pacifica has a lot of coastal planning to do besides the golf course. Just look at Esplanade.”

Is this a news report by a reporter or a column?

Mine, and a few others concern about this article is that is was not labeled as an opinion piece, which it cleary is. The Tribune continues to become nothing more than a birdcage liner and has about as much credibility as Pravda did in the 1980's. A local newspaper should really focus more on news and not become a weekly forum for those who clearly won't let the facts and the truth get in their way to take away the recreation choice of thousands.

One quote that did catch my eye: From Bob Battalio
“Their plan places salt-sensitive species right behind the levee where they are at risk from saltwater overtopping and groundwater intrusion.”
If Plater and his crew really want to restore this area to dunes and wetlands, and take the sea wall down as they say, won't the "salt sensitive species" be worse off? At least now the snakes and frogs are not in danger from salt water intrusion.


Crockpot said...

What a crock.

Nuts said...

OMG "Lancelle said she would welcome an informational meeting with Battalio, perhaps along with Councilmember Jim Vreeland, who she said is “very well versed in coastal planning.” But she urged that “the long-term planning effort should not delay what needs to be done soon to maintain the coastal trail and golf course at Sharp Park and, most important, protect the endangered species habitat there.”

Kathy Meeh said...

Imagine a City Committee (Pacifica Climate Committee) circumventing the city, and taking their request and commentary directly to the City of San Francisco, and without even a copy to the City. This is way out-of-control.

Next, is an assumption that San Francisco Recreation and Parks made no consideration of climate change, whereas their report actually considers flooding and ocean rise 25,50 and 100 years out. I saw a portion of that report at the last San Francisco hearing.

At the Pacifica meeting December 10th it was clear that A18, the preferred plan, included a RLF habitat corridor upland to Horse Shoe Pond, where they migrate during the winter months currently.

Taking down the sea wall and flooding the area is not acceptable, not only does habitat live there, but also so do humans.

Anonymous said...

Is the Pacifica Climate Committee a city committee? The article starts off "The Pacifica Climate Committee, a citizens group ..." Then it says "the City of Pacifica, which has been working with the committee," and Councilmember Lancelle said, "the City Council approved the formation of a Pacifica Climate Action Plan Task Force at the request of members of the Pacifica Climate Committee." That sounds like the Climate Committee is not an official city committee but the Task Force will be.

Steve Sinai said...

The whole committee is a farce. The Pacifica Climate Committee will have as much impact on the global climate as a Pacifica Committee on Middle East Peace would have on peace in the Middle East.

The committee is one of those cheap, meaningless gestures that makes council look good, and lets participants feel good about themselves. Nothing more.

Kathy Meeh said...

City council appointed committee, Carlos Davidson et. all. I tend to agree with Steve...fix highway one might help the whatever air polution we have.

Steve Sinai said...

Carlos Davidson? You mean that author of the ridiculous report that said air travel accounted for over 25% of the carbon dioxide emissions from Pacificans? He was only off by a factor of 100. It should have been 0.25%.

If you check the math in the Pacifica Community-wide greenhouse gas inventory available on their website at, you'll see that his estimate of Pacifica's population (37,010) in proportion to the US population (285,107,923) was about 0.013%, when it was actually 0.00013%. So he overestimated Pacifica's co2 contribution from air travel by 100x based on that incorrect number.

I haven't checked the other math in the report. I just remembered the air travel claims were absurd, so I zeroed in on that.

This from one of the expert "scientists" often quoted by local hippies on various environmental issues. I can understand making a mistake in the initial calculation, but something so clearly wrong should have been caught and corrected by now. This kind of careless science undercuts the credibility of any purported "scientific evidence" trotted out by local uber-greenies in support of their views.

(I do give Carlos credit for showing where he got his numbers, so that they could be checked. And he's not nearly as bad as Summer Rhodes/Kathy Jana.)

As I said, the Pacifica Climate Committee is pointless.

Jeffrey W Simons said...

The biggest waste of energy in Pacifica is the effort made by private citizens to time and time again point out the fallacies of Carlos Davidson's junk science and invalid arguments.

But once again . . . how can you have a legitimate "climate committee" that does not address the city's largest contributer of greenhouse gases and CO2 ommissions - Highway 1? Or that promoting more jobs in Pacifica for Pacificans will significantly reduce our carbon footprint by reducing traffic?

40% of the city's population commutes over the hill for employment. Think of the positive impact to the city's economy and reduction in our carbon footprint if the city were able to reduce that number by even 5%.

But Carlos Davidson has been at the forefront of stifling development and denying jobs to Pacifica. His own science undermines his every position. Why we would give someone so ignorant such credence is beyond me.

ian butler said...

The Climate Action Plan Task Force is conducting interviews this week. It is my understanding that all members of the public are welcome to apply. Just contact city hall.

Kathleen Rogan said...

Let's create a "Pacifica Culture Committe". We will build a center. Call it "Pacifica Cultural Center". This is different from our Pacifica Community Center. The cultural center will feature pictures and stories of all the people that came here before us and developed in Pacifica. We could start with Shelter Cove, then the Golf Course, first track homes, Brown Church, Rockaway, etc. etc. Pacificans really don't know who these people are. When we build in the quarry, in between the ice rink and theaters, outlets, will be a cultural center. Open to Pacifica Family and Friends. It should have a big beautiful bar , restaurant, meeting room. Pictures of all developers and people who moved into Pacifica after it was developed. Who were some of the first familiy's to buy homes and who visited Shelter Cove. Who was the first to swing a club at the golf course. All future architects could visit and study old architectual plans and the people who drew them.

Steve Sinai said...

If people want to learn about Pacifica history, they can check out a few books from Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series:

"Pacifica" by Chris Hunter and Bill Drake.
"Ocean Shore Railroad" by Chris Hunter.
"San Mateo County Coast" by Michael Smookler.

They're all interesting, and they're available from various libraries in the San Mateo County Library System. You can go to the library website and look up where the books are, and have them sent to one of the Pacifica libraries for pickup.

Kathleen Rogan said...

Good we could have them on a shelf in the Pacifica Cultural Center when it is built.

By the way, this is probably for another post, but whatever happened to the city lawsuit against shelter cove?

Oh and Howard Zinn famous Socialist/Communist died. I have listened to his lectures and what an anti-American nut. R.I.P., but I doubt it.

Steve Sinai said...

One of the things I learned from reading the books is that Pacifica doesn't exactly have a deep cultural history, unless you consider rum-running a cultural activity.

ian butler said...

Kathleen's idea of a Pacifica Cultural Committee sounds a lot like the Pacifica Historical Society. And the Pacifica Cultural Center sounds a lot like what the Litle Brown Church will be when it is finished. Although I don't think they plan to have a bar.

Kathleen Rogan said...

@Steve, yes I do. Some of us have ancestors that did that work. Don't be a hater. They may have contributed to the tax base here back then. Buying cigarettes and axes. They probably ate at the old taco bell building in manor.

@Ian, Then we can combine the two. It would be more about the people who came here before us and why. Did they build? Did they start a famous business? Nick's. What kind of bands/music played here. Surf or latin music. What came first.
And, every cultural center I have been to has a bar and I have been to many. Many here in Pacifica enjoy spirits. It's part of our culture.

Kathy Meeh said...

Howard Zinn, historian, playwright, social activist--peace activist. Thanks Kathleen, I wouldn't have looked him up without prompting. He seems to be a kind of an icon with many of the Pacifica Riptide patrons.
Website -
People speak

Kathleen Rogan said...

I have listened to Howard Zinn's lectures. He scares me.

Kathy Meeh said...

Kathleen, more like a cultural anthropology rather than a higher level of culture-- have to go over the hill for that one too.

With Steve's highway air pollution statistic, and Jeff's prior research that indicates Highway 1 is our worst air polluter, it doesn't seem that a climate change committee is of much value.

And, so how is it the Climate Change Committee has chose to bypass their Pacifica appointment and assert themselves directly into sea wall protest against San Francisco, as if San Francisco wouldn't do long term studies and planning with regard to the Sharp Park Golf Course property? The Climate Change Committee is also advancing a political agenda, more than the citizens of this city bargained for sure.

Bark Nuggets said...

I would consider it not only poor taste, but inappropriate to offer alcohol at a family cultural center.

It's true that there is a deep-rooted drinking culture in America. And I think it's sad.

Kathleen Rogan said...

Next time I am in the Basque, Italian, Irish Cultural Centers I will tell them what you said. Then I will run as fast as I can out of there.

Bark Nuggets said...

I didn't realize that being Pacifican was an ethnicity.

I find it very odd that one of the things you mention a Pacifica Cultural Center should have is a bar. I think the focus should be on culture and not on serving drinks. Why not just put the cultural center in at Winters?

Do you also think alcohol should be served at the ice rinks and movie theaters that you want in Pacifica? How about our libraries?

My point is that there are plenty of social places for adults to congregate and get a drink. There are fewer places for families to gather in an alcohol-free environment. I'm not a teetotaler, but I don't believe alcohol needs to be present at every social gathering and family center.

Kathleen Rogan said...

I am just throwing ideas out. Just having a little fun. Do you really think a Pacifica Cultural Center will happen?

Bark Nuggets said...


I owe you an apology. I think "drinking culture" is a little too pervasive in our society, but that's my own personal "hot button" issue and I should have kept it to myself.

I'm truly sorry; you did not deserve to be attacked over the issue.

I think a center as you suggest would be a nice addition to Pacifica. As to whether it will happen... who knows.

Kathleen Rogan said...

it's ok. Safeway had a checker who died in the past couple years. Whenever I would get her , she would preach a little. Once time she said to me, "you know to be drunk is a sin". It never offended me, not one bit and no, I was not drunk, this was just something she did. She lived around the corner from me. I liked her a lot. So, don't worry, I need a little preaching to now and then.

Zombie Rockaway Sue said...

When I see Ian Butthead "funnyman" byline I automatically skip to the next article.

He doesn't deserve the attention.

Anonymous said...

Correction to Kathy Meeh: the Pacifica Climate Committee is not a city committee. It was not appointed by the Council. It is a group of concerned citizens.

Jeffrey W Simons said...

It is a group of concerned citizens.

No, its a group of self-appointed demagogues who want to stifle Pacifica's economic growth under the guise of junk science and fake environmentalism. Their "goal" to to "restore" as much of the Coastline as possible, regardless of the consequences, and carry themselves under the umbrella of "concern" about "climate change."

I find it very unsettling that the person who signed the letter also sits on the local school board and makes decisions affecting the education of the youth of Pacifica. But she has to live with Carlos Davidson, so I suppose I can cut her some slack.

Kathleen Rogan said...

I lost track. Who are all the people who are on the Pacifica Climate Committee? Who founded the committee?

Jeffrey W Simons said...

well it looks like one school board member (Cynthia Kaufman), one planning commissioner (Celeste Langille), I'm assuming Carlos Davidson and Bob Battalio as well . . . they are a private citizen's group who influenced the city to form the PCAPTF . . .

As for the timing of Butler's "article" (opinion piece disguised as journalism) one has to wonder what his motivation is for all the press he has been hounding upon himself if he is not seeking public office.

Even Jim Vreeland isn't this desperate for media attention . . .

Lance said...

Vreeman not desperate for attention!
Jeff make funny.