Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jim Vreeland steps back

I am both concerned and puzzled by Councilmember Vreeland not making decisions or voting on council issues that may involve the federal government, in particular, his reasoning in stepping down and not participating in discussions concerning the apartment buildings that are in jeopardy of collapse.

This behavior presumably is caused by Mr. Vreeland working for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

I say presumably because Mr. Vreeland has not disclosed the terms under which he has to step back from decisions. The EPA gets involved in a lot off issues on the coastside. The rest of the federal government broadly gets involved in almost everything else in town. Neither the rest of council nor staff have said anything about this stepping back.

So, have we lost a councilmember on key issues? We now have only 4 dealing with critical issues and one--Vreeland--on the sideline?

What about the EPA employees on the planning commission? Have these commissioners also taken themselves out of decisions, like all environmental impact reports, that may involve the federal government? At least one PC commissioner is an EPA lawyer, so he should know the rules. Does he step back?

What about Vreeland's aggressive support of the now defunct biodiesel refinery? He supported that, even traveled to testify at the Coastal Commission and the federal government was deeply involved in that project. He didn't step down on that project. Is this a selective application of a "rule" we don't know about?

So, what are the step down rules. Do they apply to planning commissions? How does the public feel about a councilmember no longer representing the voters on all issues before council?

Sharon O'Brien


Unknown said...

I love how no one on this Blog will touch this.

Happy Now? said...

That damn Vreeland!

Richard Saunders said...

Have you asked at a public meeting about this?

Kathy Meeh said...

"What about Vreeland's aggressive support of the now defunct biodiesel refinery? He supported that, even traveled to testify at the Coastal Commission and the federal government was deeply involved in that project."

Interesting the grant available to Whole Energy Fuels was from CA Air Resource Board (CARB), under California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with a link to the US EPA.
Or listed directly

Any clarification is appreciated. I'm assuming much of the funding comes from the Federal government for both the CA Agency and the Grants.

The Coastal Commission (CC) found confusing the cross-over of Councilmember Vreeland attempting to represent Whole Energy Fuels and the City of Pacifica at the same time. Vreeland also described the CARB grant as "our grant". The grant distinction and identification was made by the CC Chair. Not "our grant" (City of Pacifica), but the grant of Whole Energy Fuels (WEF). The CC Chair also asked the WEF representative to step forward and describe their own project. For those interested the Agenda and video of that July 11, 2008 meeting is available on the CC website/Archives. COASTAL COMMISSION HEARINGS Total hearing time about 55 minutes.

Anonymous said...

JV has no balls. He has supported every seawall ever proposed in Pacifica. Why be silent now? Pacifica has no intention of ever initiating any coherent managed retreat strategy or ever thinking ahead regarding obvious erosion issues. Here sea rise is the single most important issue in the entire town and you all live in total denial, expressing shock and amazement every time regular periodic to-be-expected bluff falls occur. Wake up people. It isn't an emergency, it is fully predictable!

Kathy Meeh said...

The first house fell into the ocean from Esplanade Avenue more than 11 years ago. 15 years prior to that the revetment retaining wall (relatively cheap solution, not a sea wall) was installed along that part of the north Pacifica beach/cliff area.

Cliff walls were washing away then, prior, and now. The city and city council has been aware of this cliff deterioration and progression, and the need for repair and need for upgrading.

Have opportunities for this city to generate higher tax revenue to fix some of these serious city infrastructure problems which affect our citizens, other than taxing property owners and other citizens? They sure have. This city council and their friends: nice talk, no significant action, no progress, no intent. As you've indicated Anonymous, its just another predictable emergency.

Zombie Rockaway Sue said...

Lost homes is nothing new. I remember houses on beach blvd on the same side of the street as the pier.

Seawalls just fuck the next beach up the road.

Steve Sinai said...

Sea-level rise is hardly "the single most important issue in town." On the list of potential natural threats, I'd list earthquakes, mudslides and floods as way higher than sea-level rise.

"Managed retreat strategy" sounds like poorly-disguised, Platerian-phraseology for "shut-down the golf course...don't build anything."

Richard Saunders said...

Managed retreat strategy suggests to me that plans be developed now for the obvious blufftop retreat that happens every time it rains and every time the surf really pounds.

Blufftops retreat. That's reality. Former USGS geologist Ken LaJoie educated people up and down the coast on this for years.

Planning for the inevitable could help avoid the last-minute panic when blufftops retreat quickly, like this time on Esplanade.

Sea-level rise is happening more slowly, but planning for it could help avoid the last-minute scramble, anxiety, and cost. Looking at the maps from, Shelter Cove's may be a goner, the first 8 blocks of Linda Mar may be under water, most of Rockaway, the western portion of the golf course and the adjoining neighborhood, and the entire southern portion of Sharp Park.

My view on development in areas under risk is that it's not a problem if the idea is to get enjoyment of the development for as long as the ocean allows, and then to remove it and let nature take its course when the time comes.

Markus said...

We can plan and do all we want but it wont stop the inevitable. I must agree with Richard on his view re development. We should know by now, its simply useless to fight nature. We must realize that living along the coast can be compared with one's lifetime. One can only do all possible to live a rich, productive and enjoyable life, knowing well that it will end. Let us concentrate on possible solutions for the massive problems facing us today, and quit worrying about fighting inevitable forces.

Kathy Meeh said...

Richard and Markus, gosh I though humans were smarter than that. Maybe outside Pacifica they are. Richard said Shelter Cove may be gone, that's one thing, losing the first 8 blocks of Linda Mar is another, ha, ha. That means we'll all be boating out of Pacifica because Highway 1 will long be under water. And, what's your time table on this? Oh, its 100-200-300 years for the golf course without human interference? On the other hand, maybe a new city council will be elected by then and Pacifica will actually have some economic development to improve city infrastructure.

The opposite argument could be made: This is exactly the reason to build and enjoy development along the land west of highway one now--after all, what ever is built today can be enjoyed for the next 100-200-300 years. By then it will be time to remodel or remove, and if its nature that does that oh well.

The shale consistency cliff problem is mostly in the north part of town. And except for no money, why not fix the coastline by sea walls?
Preserving coastal homes all the way past the first 8 blocks of Linda Mar (really just part of a potential tsunami flooding zone) is part part of protecting our city infrastructure. These problems can be solved with proper planning and city economic development (tax revenue).

Zombie, I visited Sharp Park beach 45 years ago, there were no houses on the side of the beach as the pier that I recall-- how old are you, and/or when were these houses there? Two houses were removed from Linda Mar Beach about 7 years ago as part of the beach restoration and beautification in the beach transfer from city owned to State owned. The affect of rising tides was not the issue. And I agree with Steve, the rising tides issue is bogus for quite some time into the future and also argues strongly in favor of keeping and improving the golf course-- if you're concerned about frog and humans who live there that is.

Lance said...

O'Brien seemed to be asking what, exactly, can Vreeland vote on in this town. How did we get to global warming. Seems a calculated diversion designed to lead the stream away from the question. Good work! I'd like to explore what he CAN vote on. Pier? Nope. Quarry? Nope. Hwy 1? Nope, Department of Transportation money. The Quarry? Nope. Feds all over that. Trails on GGNRA property? Nope. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. He can't even be seated when the federal weatherman gives the city an award. What can he represent Pacifica on?

Anonymous said...

There was at least one house on the ocean side of Beach Blvd, just south of the pier. It was destroyed in a storm sometime in the early 80's. One huge wave took it out.

Markus said...

Kathy, I believe you misunderstood my earlier comment. When I speak of the inevitable, I am referring to a much longer sea rise timeline, 100 - 300 years. As you may know from some of my other comments, I am a big proponent of smart sustainable development happening in the now. This also includes infrastructure, repairs, shoring up and doing whatever we can to mitigate and prepare for a number of other more immediate problems and recurring natural events, not sea rise. I must admit, after rereading my earlier comment, it was rather ambiguous and easily subject to misinterpretation.

Lance said...

Call the question, Sir.

Kathy Meeh said...

Lance wants us to get back on topic-- why would you expect us to do that Lance? Okay it seems that those who work for the government may or may not have a conflict-of-interest with these overlapping federal/state government concerns. Apparently working for the EPA and promoting a private biodiesel plant project supported by an EPA CARB grant is not a conflict-of-interest.
So, by that standard why would anything city activity be a conflict-of-interest?

Councilmember Vreeland sits on the County Transportation Authority Board (Highway 1 improvement), no mention of conflict here.

Land use. Councilmembers Vreeland and Lancelle were the city council sub-committee "negotiators" that killed the last quarry redevelopment deal. Apparently land-issues are not a conflict-of-interest either. And, if land-use is not an EPA state/federal conflict for a city council member, why would land use be a conflict for 2-3 planning commissioners, two of which are employees of the EPA, another which may be related (spouse may work for the EPA, something like that).

Anonymous, there was only a drainage pipe on the beach south of the pier during the past 45 years, no houses, I still think the confusion is the transition of Linda Mar Beach to State. Markus mentioned the "inevitable" rising oceans.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous, there was only a drainage pipe on the beach south of the pier during the past 45 years, no houses." You are wrong. I was in that house. I know it was there. I saw it destroyed in the storm.

Bark Nuggets said...

Check it out: a photo of the area in question from 1972 (before the current pier existed):

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that, Bark! Nice work. That looks like the old treatment plant is under construction. There are 2 houses in the center of the picture on the ocean side of the street - a red one and a smaller one next to it - and a larger complex down at the end. Those houses were there after the pier was built. I don't know for sure but they all may have been taken out in the storm in the early 80's.

Kathy Meeh said...

Well, well, you're right, I'm wrong, great archived photo.

Isn't the pier further north, and the area of where your house was part of the current park? Wasn't the brown area an upper edge, and the gray area the beach. I also forgot about that gray building next to the golf course.

Sorry your home on that beach area was destroyed, and hope you and your family were out of there when that happened.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't my home. I only visited there. The pier is just to the north of where the sewage treatment plant is. (It was built to carry the treated sewage out to the sea.) It would be in the picture if it existed then. Where the houses were is now a park. The occupant of the small home was there when it was destroyed and watched it happen, but no one was hurt.

Markus said...

I happen to be at the Chit Chat Cafe @ the pier this morning. There is a photo of 2 homes, a pink and a smaller blue home, just south of the pier. The picture showed both homes nearly leveled and caption reads, "after the storm of 1983". As far as Vreeland is concerned. After some in debt research, I definitely find myself not conflicted. Time for new blood.

Anonymous said...

just call the sf office of the epa and ask if they have instructed jim to recuse himself or not, i'm betting they did not