Wednesday, August 31, 2011


In today's tribune you'll find a story about a new radio station "The Train". My friend, Dave Sholin, produces the programming. I've know Dave for a long...................long time. He's famous in his own right. When we get the opportunity to get together the discussion invariably revolves around music. This station is a slice of Americana, a look into the music that is our music heritage. I encourage all to tune in and let Dave know that you're listening.

Jim Wagner

Monday, August 29, 2011

PG&E will become better - "A leader for safety" they say

To be a "leader for safety" PG&E will charge residence utility payers less than $2 per month. Whereas,  PG&E (overseen by the PUC) saved us money prior by not affecting proper safety standards?  The following article is the friendly version of the "improved safety" announcement", SF Chronicle and Mercury News were not so kind.   

Bay Area PG&E workers testing pipelines
San Mateo Journal/Associated Press, 8/27/11. A California utility under fire for a deadly pipeline blast in San Bruno revealed an ambitious plan on Friday to boost safety on its gas lines it said would cost the average home less than $2 more per month. The new $2.2 billion plan filed with the California Public Utilities Commission will make the company an industry leader for safety, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said. “This plan represents a clear break with the way PG&E and other gas utilities once approached pipeline safety,” said Nick Stavropoulos, PG&E’s executive vice president of gas operations.

The commission in June required all state utilities to forecast how they would pressure-test or replace the untested segments of their transmission lines — such as the pipe that exploded last year in San Bruno.  The Sept. 9 accident killed eight people, injured dozens and sparked a fireball that torched 38 homes in a quiet neighborhood overlooking San Francisco Bay.  In the coming months, the commission will review the proposals from PG&E and other utilities before approving any costs or setting new safety requirements. They all must include plans for more patrols and leak surveys, pressure reductions, and prioritize pressure testing for pipelines coursing through highly populated areas.

Because PG&E’s transmission line in San Bruno lacked remotely operated or automatic shut-off valves, the gas kept flowing and fueled the fire for nearly an hour and a half after the pipe burst. PG&E’s new proposal includes plans to install automated valves in highly populated regions and in areas where pipelines cross active seismic faults so gas could be shut off in the event of a pipeline rupture. Consumer advocates said the cost of PG&E’s shoddy record keeping had put people at risk in the past, and should not be passed on to consumers since the company’s profits continued to rise. “PG&E has neglected safety and maintenance for way too long,” said Mark Toney, executive director The Utility Reform Network, based in San Francisco.  “Now they have to play catch-up, and it should not be at customers’ expense.”

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, at whose district includes San Bruno, gave cautious praise to PG&E’s plan. “It likely exceeds what the federal government is going to be requiring,” Speier said. “But we have to make sure that ratepayer is paying their fair share and only their fair share.” 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Medical cannabis and the fringe majority

The Mayor, Chief of Police and County Supervisor walk into a cannabis dispensary.... You are probably expecting a punch line right about now, but this is no joke, it actually happened. No, they weren’t there as customers, (as far as I know) they were on a Mayor’s walk and happened upon a shop that one of the participants actually described as having “a wonderful smell”.

Let’s be honest, marijuana is no stranger to Pacifica, it used to waft through the local speakeasies during prohibition, and has been an integral part of Pacifica’s surf culture since the early sixties. But in all those years, no one ever tried to sell it here legally until August 1st, 2011, when Ruben Salvatierra and the Wellness Center Collective quietly opened up shop and began providing cannabis to patients. They managed to fly under the radar for 19 days, until the Mayor’s walk suddenly put their little shop very much on the radar.

6 days later the police issued the dispensary a Cease and Desist notice. Apparently the collective got a business license as a “flower seller”, which, although technically true, is the legal equivalent of a liquor store getting a license as a gas station. So after an historic 25 days, Pacifica’s first cannabis dispensary was shut down, before Alan Wald’s newest palindrome, “to Pacifica pot” could be put to proper use.

The day after the dispensary was discovered I started hearing about it from people around town, and word got around fast - this opening got more buzz than Fresh and Easy, and so far everyone I’ve heard from is wildly in favor.  Admittedly, the people I know are by no means a representative sample of Pacificans, but you know what group is? Voters. And as I already have pointed out, last November 8,600 Pacificans voted to legalize marijuana. For comparison’s sake, the Peebles measure lost by 400 votes, but Prop 19 passed here by 2,800 votes, with 59.13% in favor. And, in almost every survey, medical cannabis polls about 25 points higher than legalization, which would put us well over 80%. So it would appear that medical cannabis supporters are an overwhelming majority in this town, and yet we are still on the fringe. Call us the fringe majority.

Well, now it’s time for the fringe majority to come out of the shadows and let everyone know how we feel; that the war on drugs is a failure, that after 30 years of Just Say No, marijuana is the number one cash crop in America, and we want a cut. Tell them that when Californians voted to allow the sale and taxation of medical cannabis, we expected it to be available in our progressive county within, oh, 15 months, not 15 years and counting. And tell them that there are lots of Pacificans who really do need safe access to cannabis; many are elderly and have mobility issues, and let’s face it, they probably shouldn’t be driving to San Francisco to get high!

Of course, not all medical cannabis supporters actually smoke it themselves, but many do. And if the fringe majority wants to come out of the closet, we need to go all the way, publicly. Because marijuana users are where gays were in the 70’s, when everyone knew one but didn’t KNOW that they knew one. “I have this friend” won’t cut it anymore.

So I’ll go first. I, Ian Butler smoke marijuana. I have a medical card and use it for medicinal purposes, but must admit that I do enjoy the side effects. The first time I purchased cannabis from a dispensary was like a dream, or an alternate reality. The friendly young woman behind the counter showed me more strains, concentrates and edibles than I could possibly keep track of, using terms like ‘couch lock’, ‘body buzz’ and ‘head high’. It was more like shopping for iPads at the Apple store than scoring drugs on the street. It was safe, reliable, and I even used my credit card. When I left it dawned on me that this is the way it should really be, and should have been all along.

Six weeks ago I advocated for a cannabis dispensary in Pacifica. I thought it would take at least a year, but miraculously, one opened a mere three weeks later, showing that we do have a viable market and that a dispensary would very much like to be in business here. And we should welcome them with open arms. The City Council, the Police Department, the Planning Commission and the Chamber of Commerce all need to know that Pacificans demand a dispensary; we need the access, we need the tax dollars and we need to figure out how to help this dispensary reopen, fast.

Wellness Medical Solutions made history when they opened up their shop. And in so doing they just may have awakened a sleeping giant. Well, not exactly sleeping, but sedated. Now it’s up to the fringe majority to rise up from their couch lock and make themselves heard.

Anyone that is interested in working on this issue can email me at

Ian Butler

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What else can we do to hasten City failure by land, commerce and sea?

Pacifica Tribune, 8/24/11, "Homeowner planning jeopardy", Our Turn guest column, by Jim Wagner and Mark Stechbart.

Gotta Watch: Hurricane Irene
"In Pacifica, planning is like making sausage -- better not to see it being done. Others characterize Pacifica planning as like making lemonade -- if all you have are lemons, make lemonade. Having watched last Monday's marathon 5-hour planning commission meeting on the future of Pacifica, we think simply muddling through is the game plan. But the General Plan revision under consideration right now will define this town for the next 20 years. It's a very big deal.  The General Plan update being voted on right now will control how, when and what it costs you to remodel or enlarge your house, if they let you at all. Where you drive your car, if the city allows the ocean to chew through various housing locations and Highway 1, and if this town is fiscally sustainable are questions being debated.  Yes, you must pay attention to this General Plan debate as the occasional breath-taking lack of common sense, the political correctness and the lack of fiscal responsibility take their toll. The new General Plan will set the fiscal tone for this town for the foreseeable future.

We have asked the city to include revenue projections for the adopted General Plan/zoning covering the last 20 or so parcels in town. After eight years of structural deficit spending, the city acknowledges that it's broke. Hence, severe staff lay-offs and service cuts. In the next 6 months another $1 million has to be cut out of the budget. In all likelihood the So when the Pacifica Planning Commission makes land-use decisions -- a park, hotel, housing, mixed use -- on a parcel, you would think the commissioners would want to know what type of revenue each land use generates.Police Department will be contracted to the San Mateo County Sheriff. 

Just a peek at the sustainability issue because if we don't help our local economy in this General Plan we are faced with either status quo on lower services, more staff cuts or more Council demands for new taxes. The document approved by the Planning Commission last Monday night and sent to Council makes zero mention of revenue. This General Plan update could actually lose Pacifica revenue.

Second, ocean level rise has become quite the trendy topic. Ocean rise will affect Pacifica, but no one knows how much. Some areas of town may get wet in the next 50 years, maybe. But the planning wheels grind on anyway. Here's your homeowners' alert: remodel or expansion restrictions are being developed for the following areas of Pacifica. If you want to remodel or expand your building, you will have to pay for a study to convince city staff your structure will survive ocean rise.

  • All of Linda Mar roughly west of Peralta, north to Crespi, west to Highway 1, including Linda Mar Center and Pedro Point Shopping Center.
  • Rockaway businesses west of Highway 1 and the Quarry flat lands.
  • The Sharp Park Golf Course.
  • Most of the southern Palmetto area, including the old sewer treatment plant.
    Two huge concerns come to mind with this scheme. Property owners have not been notified that this costly program is being considered and the costs involved may stop hundreds of homeowners from remodeling. Finally, Pacifica economic engines are put at risk -- probably 35 percent of the town's retail space and what was supposed to be our new main street (Palmetto and the old sewer treatment plant) is now under a cloud. This huge new surprise cost has to be more publicly debated.

    Another new trendy fanciful term has been concocted: planned shoreline retreat. This is a fancy term for no more boulders or riprap on the beach areas to protect houses, business, Highway 1 or the golf course. Let nature take its course. You would think our elected officials would come up with erosion protections that do not destroy millions in property value and threaten to cut Highway 1 in Linda Mar. Nope. Shortly the official policy of this town will be do nothing regarding shoreline erosion. Council will require someone to pay to keep the Highway 1 open. But adios to everyone else.

    Our last observation about Monday's planning meeting deals with political correctness running amuck. It would be funny if it wasn't so hypocritical. Everywhere you turn, Pacifica seems to be a nursery for the Red-legged frog (RLF), an endangered species. The General Plan contains new areas for "RLF critical habitation expansion under consideration" covering several thousand acres in the hills of Sweeney ridge covering a big part of eastern Pacifica, Sharp Park Road south to Pedro Valley Park. A curious map omission was uncovered. Vallemar is surrounded on three sides by "critical habitat expansion under consideration" but not Vallemar proper. And this even includes Calera Creek which is habitat in the quarry 300 yards to the west but not mapped as habitat with the middle of Vallemar. Inexplicably, RLFs north of Vallemar take a 2-mile hike around Vallemar to travel south, but never, ever, take the short cut by walking 600 yards due south through Vallemar. A lot of hiking for the frogs but no RLF protections in Vallemar means Vallemar residents avoid restrictions. This concludes our first evaluation of the various nuances and back stories of the Pacifica general plan update as it moves to Council. What do you say: sausage or lemonade?"

    Posted by Kathy Meeh
  • Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    ...and our local NIMBYs say nobody builds outlet malls anymore

    Construction on high-end Livermore outlet mall finally begins

    Contra Costa Times
    Updated: 08/24/2011 06:01:43 PM PDT

    After a long series of changes and setbacks, ground finally has been broken on a high-end outlet mall in the East Bay suburbs. 

    With retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th and Neiman Marcus Last Call, the 543,000-square-foot center at Interstate 580 and El Charro Road will be a regional destination drawing shoppers from as far east as Stockton and as far west as San Francisco, developers and city leaders say.

    "(The Bay Area) is a sophisticated retail market. People understand brands," said Robert Brvenik, a principal at Paragon Outlet Partners. "This will be a tourist magnet for easily 50 miles around."

    A community gathering is planned at 10 a.m. Friday, at the El Charro exit on I-580 to celebrate the project, which has been under construction since July. Parking will be available at 3505 Paragon Outlets Parkway.

    Numerous designer discount stores have signed leases, among them Banana Republic Factory, Barney's New York Outlet, Cole Haan Company Store, J. Crew, Michael Kors, Nike Factory Store and Tommy Hilfiger, according to a Paragon news release.

    About 64 percent of the space, which is expected to feature more than 120 stores, has been leased, Brvenik said, adding that the goal is to open the mall in time for the 2012 holiday shopping season.

    Livermore leaders are salivating over the $2 million in annual sales tax revenue they say the mall will bring to the city. About 2,000 jobs -- temporary construction and permanent retail positions -- will be generated.

    The economic boost is "extraordinary in this day-and-age," said city engineer Cheri Sheets.

    The area will benefit from flood-control improvements, and roadway and other infrastructure projects related to the project, Sheets said.


    Posted by Steve Sinai

    Pacifica Chamber of Commerce endorses highway widening project

    Business supports highway improvement for this City, for our economy and for you traveling.

    Pacifica Tribune 8/24/11."The Pacifica Chamber of Commerce voted to endorse Highway 1 widening in a unanimous vote Friday, Aug.19. "The Chamber recognizes the economic and safety issues inherent in this unacceptable bottleneck," said Courtney Conlon, Chamber CEO. 'It's a regional issue that affects residential commute, tourism, and Coastside business.
    Highway 1 is our only north/south transit corridor and is currently unable to handle everyday traffic. In addition, emergency vehicles are unable to get through during commute times.'"

    Don't forget to write your letter for the needed the highway fix, and include your name, address and phone number. Easiest way, email to:  Yolanda Rivas, Branch Chief, Division of Environmental Planning & Engineering, California Department of Transportation, District 4, Attn: Thomas Rosevear, 111 Grand Ave., Oakland, CA 94623, fax 510-286-5600, email"  These comments must be received by 5pm, October 7, 2011.  

    Reference -  Pacifica Chamber of Commerce.
    Note:  Example letter from Jim Wagner posted in comments 8/24/11.

    Posted by Kathy Meeh

    Highway widening improvement - what you need to know

    If you want a Highway fix so you don't have to sit in traffic, you're going to have to work for it:  1) write a letter and 2) show-up.  Will you do that?  

    City council majority probably won't help, but may also be a drag on the process as usual.  And if you're successful in your letter writing and showing-up, the project will be done in stages over a period of about 3+ years. What will traffic congestion look like in 3 years going forward?  Remember 2005-2008?  Better start now to do something.  First get that letter written and include your name, address, phone number. By email, fax or US mail send your text to the address at the bottom of this article.  

    Pacifica Tribune,/Jane Northrop, Staff Writer, 8/11/11. "A plan to widen Highway 1 from south of Fassler to north of Reina del Mar, also known as the Calera Creek Parkway project, is under environmental review. A draft environmental impact report with three project options -- a no build option, a narrow median option and a wider landscaped median option -- are all under consideration. The environmental review process has identified wetlands and endangered species habitat as main environmental issues that have been discovered, but which are expected to be mitigated during the course of construction.

    Caltrans is the lead agency on the project with the city of Pacifica and the Transportation Authority as partners. Joseph Hurley, director of the transportation authority program, said the community needs to decide if this is something that should be built. "At the end of the environmental process, either it will be given environmental approval, undergo further study or abandoned altogether," he said. "This public review period is almost twice as long as normal for public comment. We want the public to have as much time as necessary to submit any comments. We want to allow the environmental process to play out. Let's do all the technical studies that are necessary."

    Members of the public may comment on the draft EIR until Oct. 7. The address appears at the end of this article. At the last public meeting about the highway widening in Pacifica, the agencies presented every alternative that had been conceived and abandoned along the way to show the public why this widening design was the one on which they settled.

    The next public meeting will focus on the current options. It is set for Sept. 22 at the Community Center. The program will begin with an open house at 6:30 p.m., followed by a meeting at 7 p.m. with a presentation followed by a question and answer session.

    The current build options widen Highway 1 from south of Fassler Avenue to north of Reina del Mar from four to six lanes with shoulders. It would be widened primarily on the west side of the existing roadway. New pavement would be put in and the sidewalk will be improved. A bike path would be built.  There are various improvements proposed for the two intersections. As noted in the draft EIR, by the year 2035, the widening is expected to increase capacity through those two intersections and reduce congestion. Travel time would improve between eight and 11 minutes. The two alternatives vary in the way the median is designed. In the narrow alternative, the median would be increased to 22 feet. It's at six feet now. Under the landscaped median alternative, it will be widened to 30 feet. The residents of a single family home at 425 Old County Road would be displaced under both scenarios.

    The project will require extensive mitigation measures to protect the endangered California red-legged frog and San Francisco garter snake. The National Park Service will have to sign off on those mitigation measures for the land that is owned by the GGNRA. In addition, a qualified archaeological monitor and a Native American consultant will assist if necessary. To guard the habitats, all construction staging activities will be located out of the wetland, aquatic and riparian habitats. Fencing will guide workers away from inadvertently straying. Mitigations to treat storm water runoff and control of pollutants in runoff during construction is expected to avoid indirect impacts to wetlands. Soil stabilization measures will be included. Slope protection will help control erosion.The environmental process is expected to be completed by next spring if everything falls into place, Hurley said. After that, the design process would take about a year and a half. Construction would begin about a year after that. The narrower media option would cost about $30 million and the median with landscaping, $35 million. 

    Copies of the draft EIR are available at Caltrans, 111 Grand Ave., Oakland, San Mateo County Transportation Authority, 1250 San Carlos Ave.,. San Carlos, and in Pacifica at the Sanchez Library, 1111 Terra Nova Blvd., Sharp Park library, 104 Hilton Way, City Hall, 170 Santa Maria Ave., Community Center, 540 Crespi Drive, Planning Dept., 1800 Francisco Blvd. and Public Works -- Engineering Division, 151 Milagra Drive, or online at the websites for Caltrans (, Transportation Authority ( and city of Pacifica (

    Public comments must be received by 5 p.m. Oct. 7 and can be submitted by U.S. mail, fax or email to Yolanda Rivas, Branch Chief, Division of Environmental Planning & Engineering, California Department of Transportation, District 4, Attn: Thomas Rosevear, 111 Grand Ave., Oakland, CA 94623, fax no. 510-286-5600, email"

    Posted by Kathy Meeh

    Looking for a new species?

    SF Gate, 8/24/11.  "For centuries scientists have pondered a central question: How many species exist on Earth? Now, a group of researchers has offered an answer: 8.7 million.  Although the number is still an estimate, it represents the most rigorous mathematical analysis yet of what we know - and don't know - about life on land and in the sea. The authors of the paper, published Tuesday by the scientific journal PLoS Biology, suggest 86 percent of all terrestrial species and 91 percent of all marine species have yet to be discovered, described and catalogued.

    The new analysis is significant not only because it gives more detail on a fundamental scientific mystery, but because it helps capture the complexity of a natural system that is in danger of losing species at an unprecedented rate. Marine biologist Boris Worm of Canada's Dalhousie University, one of the paper's co-authors, compared the planet to a machine with 8.7 million parts, all of which perform a valuable function.
    "If you think of the planet as a life-support system for our species, you want to look at how complex that life-support system is," Worm said. "We're tinkering with that machine because we're throwing out parts all the time." He noted that the International Union for Conservation of Nature produces the most sophisticated assessment of species on Earth, a third of which they estimate are in danger of extinction, but their survey monitors less than 1 percent of the world's species.
    For more than 250 years, scientists have classified species according to a system established by Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus, which orders forms of life in a pyramid of groupings that move from very broad - the animal kingdom, for example - to specific species, such as the monarch butterfly.

    Until now, estimates of the world's species ranged from 3 million to 100 million. Five academics from Dalhousie University refined the number by compiling taxonomic data for roughly 1.2 million known species and identifying numerical patterns. They saw that within the best-known groups, such as mammals, there was a predictable ratio of species to broader categories. They applied these numerical patterns to all five major kingdoms of life, which excludes micro-organisms and virus types. The researchers predicted there are about 7.77 million species of animals, 298,000 plants, 611,000 fungi, 36,400 protozoa and 27,500 chromists (which include various algae and water molds). Only a fraction of these species have been identified yet, including just 7 percent of fungi and 12 percent of animals, compared with 72 percent of plants."

    Posted by Kathy Meeh

    State of CA looking for revenue - millions in rent not paid

    Got rent?
     From SF Gate, 8/24/11. "The California commission in charge of leases on state lands has failed to collect millions of dollars in payments, an audit released Tuesday has found. The audit of the State Lands Commission, conducted by State Auditor Elaine Howle, found that the commission has not evicted businesses that have failed to pay rent for many years and is slow to reappraise the value of leased land that could lead to higher payments to the state.

    One Bay Area business, Crockett Marine Service in Contra Costa County, has not paid rent to the state since 1989 and owes $662,000, including penalties and interest, the auditor found. Nine other businesses have not paid rent for many years as well. The audit was a sampling of 35 leases overseen by the commission and in those Howle found about $8.2 million in uncollected revenue. The Lands Commission oversees about 1,000 leases that require businesses or other entities to pay rent to the state, along with 3,200 leases that don't generate revenue.

    "The report concludes the commission has not always managed its more than 4,000 leases in the state's best interest with the result that it has missed opportunities to generate millions of dollars in revenues for the state's general fund," Howle wrote in a letter Tuesday to Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders that accompanied the audit. In the 35 leases sampled, the auditor found a total of $1.6 million in delinquent payments, about $270,000 in potential increases from expired leases and about $6.3 million worth of potential increases in rent for current leases.The State Lands Commission oversees about 4.5 million acres in California, including rivers, lakes and coastline. It also is responsible for school land. Most of the money generated by leases - a total of more than $400 million last year that went to the state's general fund - came from royalties on oil taken from the ground.  Read More,,, 

    Posted by Kathy Meeh

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Another Pacifica property threatened by bluff erosion

    Updated: 08/22/2011 11:16:35 PM PDT

    PACIFICA -- Only 20 feet of bluff separate Joan Levin's deck from the edge of a crumbling cliff -- and a steep plunge into the ocean. 

    But she can't get a permit to install boulders at the base of the cliff to stabilize it, because her situation doesn't meet the Coastal Act's definition of an emergency.

    Levin's home, a historic building known as "Dollaradio," lost 10 lateral feet of bluff in 2009, taking her fence and sprinklers with it. Her wind-whipped backyard now consists of loosely packed sand covered by a black tarp and sandbags.

    "I'm devastated. There's not much more to go. Last year it was at 30 feet to the house, now it's at 20," Levin, 72, said Monday as she peered over the edge.

    Dollaradio sits on the same eroding cliff line as two apartment buildings on Esplanade Avenue that were evacuated in the winter of 2009-10. They remain abandoned today.

    Another neighbor to the south of Dollaradio, Lands End Apartments, recently received an emergency permit from the Coastal Commission to place riprap, or piles of heavy boulders, on the beach and another emergency permit to construct a heavy-duty sea wall, which is under construction.

    Lands End has offered to donate 3,000 tons of unused riprap to Levin, which would be enough to build a 25-foot pile across the base of the cliff that spans Dollaradio.


    Posted by Steve Sinai

    Protecting the coastline and our city

    including solutions other than "managed retreat". 

    Can you believe it, of all the coastal erosion protection management choices, our Pacifica environmentalists and supportive city council majority favor "managed retreat"?  With their promotion of "we can do nothing", eventually we will lose Highway 1 and our entire city.  Does that sound reasonable to you? 

    From BBC UK Schools "GCSE Bitesize".  Geography, coastal management strategies.  "Physical management of the coast attempts to control natural processes such as erosion and longshore drift."  Hard and soft management strategy choices below:  

    A.  Hard engineering - Hard engineering options tend to be expensive, short-term options.
          They may also have a high impact on the landscape or environment and be unsustainable.
    1.  Build a sea wall.  "Curved sea walls reflect the energy of the waves back to the sea".
          Advantages.  Protects the base of cliffs, land and buildings against erosion. Can prevent coastal flooding
          in some areas.
          Disadvantages.  Expensive to build.  Curved sea walls reflect the energy of the waves back to the sea.
          This means that the waves remain powerful.  Over time the wall may begin to erode.  The cost of
           maintenance is high.   
    2.   Build groynes.  Right angle wooden barrier  to the beach.
          Advantages.  Prevents the movement of beach material along the coast by longshore drift.  Allows the
          build up of a beach. Beaches are a natural defence against erosion and an attraction for tourists.
         Disadvantages.  Can be seen as unattractive. Costly to build and maintain.
    3.  Rock armour or boulder barriers.  Large boulders piled up on the beach. 
         Advantages.  Absorb the energy of waves.  Costly to build and maintain.
         Disadvantages. Can be expensive to obtain and transport the boulders.
    B.  Soft engineering - Soft engineering options are often less expensive than hard engineering
          options. They are usually more long-term and sustainable, with less impact on the environment.  There
          are two main types of soft engineering.
    1)  Beach management.  Replace beach or cliff erosion or longshore drift.
          a)  This replaces beach or cliff material that has been removed by erosion or longshore drift.
          b)  The main advantage is that beaches are a natural defence against erosion and coastal flooding.
                Beaches also attract tourists.
          c)  It is a relatively inexpensive option but requires constant maintenance to replace the beach material
               as it is washed away.
    2)  Managed retreat.  Areas of the coast are allowed to erode and flood naturally.
          a)  Areas of the coast are allowed to erode and flood naturally. Usually this will be areas considered to
               be of low value - eg. places not being used for housing or farmland.
          b) The advantages are that it encourages the development of beaches (a natural defence) and salt 
              marshes (important for the environment) and cost is low.
          c)  Managed retreat is a cheap option, but people will need to be compensated for loss of buildings and
               farmland. "

     Posted by Kathy Meeh

    Looking for a newly "elected" office in a different country?

    Where is Gaddafi, rebels currently control 80% of Tripoli.

    NY Times 8/22/11. "Muammar el-Qaddafi remained at large Monday morning, and loyalist forces still held pockets of the city, stubbornly resisting the rebels’ efforts to establish full control after their astonishingly speedy advance into the capital appeared to signal the end of the Libyan leader’s four-decade grip on power". This story is in process, for updated information see NY Times.
    Other accounts.
    UK Guardian, 8/22/11.  "Gaddafi forces battle on after rebels enter Tripoli". Imbedded Video 3:57 minutes commentary from 2:15.

    CNN 8/21/11, "Benghazi Peace Rally".  Imbedded Video 30 seconds.

    CNN 8/22/11, "Democratic transition".  Opinion, based upon rebel leadership.

    Posted by Kathy Meeh

    Vallejo emerges from bankruptcy

    Click here: After 3 years, Vallejo emerging from bankruptcy

    Submitted by Jim Alex

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    Pacifica Chamber of Commerce Golf Scramble

    Submitted by Jim Wagner

    Sound familiar?

    David Machado then is accused of having work performed at the property without permits and telling workers to conceal the work.

    The complaint also says Machado tried to improperly influence Placerville city officials to obtain preferential treatment to lift city-ordered work cancellation notices without the required inspections.

    I am going to read this at the next council meeting..hahahahaha
    Submitted by Jim Alex

    Saturday, August 20, 2011

    Opinion on Pacifica School District Property Tax Increase

    Whether or not you decide to increase your property taxes by $118 a year to support the employees of the Pacifica School District (PSD) and their pensions by voting for the up coming parcel tax renewal November 8 there are a few other numbers you may want to ponder. These numbers are readily available in the District’s most recent audit and can be verified by visiting the Districts offices on Reina Del Mar. The company that prepared the audit admittedly did not fact check the financial information contained in the audit but relied on staff’s assurances that the information provided was correct.

    PSD has a combined enrollment of 3226 students and an operating budget last year of $29,584,810 or $9170.74 per student. By comparison a popular local private grammar school on the north end of town charges $6,421 a year tuition pre student which is $2749.74 cheaper than what we collectively provide for PSD students. 

    The District also has outstanding financial liabilities of $44,589,611 that include a $36 million bond obligation and $8,057,645 in accounts payable or in lay terms unpaid bills. It is surprising since so much public property has been sold to private developers by the District it published a $13,000,000 surplus after the last ten acre school property was sold a few years ago. Currently the District is going through the motions of selling off two more public properties but that has nothing to do with renewing the up coming parcel tax.

    I've requested PSD salary information three times now in the last few weeks. The info I'm asking for is identical to that found on State Controller John Chiang's web site that shows what employees from the City of Pacifica and the North Coast County Water District earned last year which was so helpful last spring with the fire tax. Compensation sheets list positions only (no names) and the amounts shown in Box 5 on annual W2's the District must provide each employee. PSD has no such info I am told which is in my opinion stone walling as W2's are an IRS requirement. I'm sure the District could easily pull this information together from their accounting software. If PSD would make public the compensation paid to it's administrators, facilities department, grounds keeps and the like we would have a better idea of why the District is spending $9170.74 per student. Since the District so often boasts of how little it pays it's teaching staff the money must me going somewhere. 

    Clearly PSD which is it’s own government body needs to be more transparent to show it deserves more of our tax dollars especially in understanding its obligation of openness to the public at large not just motivated parents who want us to further fund their children’s education. At $9170.74 per student PSD needs to own up and publish a full compensation sheet that includes non classroom staff like administrators, facilities and grounds keepers among others in a timely fashion well before Novembers vote.  

    You may support the parcel tax renewal or you may not but please vote on this item either way come November 8. It is an off year election so voter participation is expected to be low. Millions of dollars of our property taxes will be voted on and whether or not you want to tax your neighbors to further fund PSD salaries, pensions and other expenses it is important that this parcel tax measure gets a large turnout so win or lose it will have gotten a fair shake. 
    Todd McCune Bray

    The Comcast deal for families on Free/Reduced Lunch

    could be a helpful post. you may have seen this already. hell, i may have forwarded it already!

    Jim Wagner

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Please Join Us: Don Horsley - Guest Speaker - Pacifica Democrats Breakfast Meeting - Saturday, August 20th

    On Saturday morning, August, 20, 2011, San Mateo County's 3rd District Supervisor, Don Horsley will address the Pacifica Democrats at their regular monthly breakfast meeting. The 9:30 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. meeting will be held in the banquet room of the Sharp Park Golf Course Restaurant, located at Francisco and Sharp Park Blvds, in Pacifica.

    Newly elected to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in November of 2010, Horsley will specifically discuss what his first year's personal experiences have been as a County Supervisor, as well as informing the morning's attendees about the "State of the County", in general.
    Horsley, no stranger to county governmental operations, formerly served as the elected Sheriff of San Mateo County for nearly 14 years, prior to his recent Board election.
    Having started his law enforcement in the 1960's as a police officer in Daly City and Pacifica, and a juvenile counselor for the County's Probation Department, he began his career in the Sheriff's office in 1972 as a patrol deputy in East Palo Alto. He quickly rose through the ranks, spending extensive time in upgrading the training of deputy sheriffs and correctional officers. Later in his career, he was instrumental in the planning and building of a new correctional facility, which resulted in changing the way that the County Correctional system was managed. Horsley was eventually responsible for the adoption of a new management system called "direct supervision", wherein deputies and correctional officers worked in contact with detainees, which ultimately resulted in a sharp, near total, decrease in incidents of violence.
    After his election in 1993 as Sheriff , Horsley organized a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement effort that helped East Palo Alto, which, at that time, had been dubbed the "murder capital of the United States", to reduce its number of homicides dramatically. The Sheriff's Office, under Horsley's leadership continued to assist the City of East Palo Alto with patrol deputies and investigators for the entire time that Horsley was in office. Throughout his law enforcement career, Horsley has enjoyed multiple accomplishments. Two, in particular, benefited San Mateo County greatly. One was the establishment of a special gang investigative unit, which identified and targeted for arrest violent gang members, which resulted in San Mateo County having the lowest homicide rate in the State, according to the District Attorney's office. And, the second was Horsley's oversight of the building of an energy efficient and technologically advanced crime lab that serves all of the law enforcement agencies in San Mateo County, as well as agencies in adjoining counties with the latest in crime detection and identification technology.
    After leaving the Sheriff's office, Horsley was elected to the Sequoia Healthcare District and served as the Board President prior to his election to the County Supervisor position. In his current position, Horsley serves on numerous boards and committees, including  City/County Association of Government (C/CAG), Airport Community Roundtable, Coastal Counties Regional Association, Domestic Violence Council,  Health Plan of San Mateo (HPSM), HEART, LAFCO, Mid-coast Community Council (MCC), Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance, Redwood City 2020, and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (TA). His San Mateo County standing committee assignments include being the Chair of the Environmental Quality Committee and a member of the San Mateo County Legislative Committee.
    All members of the public are welcomed to attend Pacifica Democrats meetings. It is not necessary to be either a club member or a Democrat to attend. A full breakfast is available for $12; continental for $6; and coffee only for $3. No purchase is necessary. Doors open at 9:00 a.m. Seating is between 9:00 a.m. and  9:30 a.m. For questions and/or to RSVP, please contact Barbara Arietta, club president, at 415-246-0775 or email

    Barbara Arietta
    Correspondent - Pacifica Tribune

    A Vote for Naftali could get OHS $5000

    this would be cool if we could win this thing. the garden is cool
    jim wagner

    This summer Oceana senior Naftali Moed was nominated and selected for a Cox Conserves Heroes Award. The award is for people who have made significant environmental contributions to their community through volunteering and service.

    “To help honor the Bay Area’s unsung environmental heroes and inspire neighborhood conservation, KTVU Channel 2 is proud to partner with The Trust for Public Land to present “Cox Conserves Heroes.” A total of $10,000 will be donated to local environmental nonprofits in the Bay Area.”

    Naftali is one of five finalists, and the only young person. All five finalists receive an award of $1200 for their project (in Naftali’s case, the project is the Oceana High School Garden).

    We now have the opportunity to vote for Naftali and receive an award of $5000 for the Oceana Garden.

    Please take a minute to go to the Cox Conserves Hero link below and VOTE for NAFTALI MOED (the non-profit listed for Naftali is Pie Ranch, but the funds will go to the Oceana High School Garden):

    Thank you!

    For more information about the Oceana Garden:

    San Mateo County buys Pillar Point Bluff from Peninsula Open Space Trust

    Eco-capitalism at work.  In 2004, POST (in Partnership with CA Coastal Conservancy) purchased from a private estate, 119 acres adjacent to Pillar Point Bluff, see Coastsider article, 12/18/07 ).  POST improved the land building a segment of the CA Coastal Trail.  San Mateo County has now purchased the property through a State conservation grant.

    Mercury News/Julia Scott, 8/16/11. "One of the best views on the coast now belongs to San Mateo County -- and to the public. The Peninsula Open Space Trust has announced the sale of Pillar Point Bluff, a steeply terraced, grass-covered 140-acre parcel that rises hundreds of feet above the ocean. The privately funded nonprofit sold the land to San Mateo County for $3 million, money the county got through a grant from the state Wildlife Conservation Board.  The trust acquired the land in increments from 2004 to 2008. The nonprofit fixed some erosion problems and restored a three-mile trail that spans the top of the bluff from Seal Cove, near the entrance to Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, to a southern overlook that gives hikers -- provided they have a good set of binoculars --
    a decent view of the Mavericks surf break.

    "This piece of land is pretty magnificent. It covers that last piece from Seal Cove to the marine reserve. It protects that whole area as well as the bluffs above it," said assistant county manager Dave Holland, who helped orchestrate the sale in his former role as head of the county Department of Parks. The county has, in fact, managed the bluff-top property for several years instead of POST, at a cost of $30,000 per year, and it will continue to do so, Holland said.  "They're not set up to manage public access," he said. "They redid those trails with the understanding that it was coming to the county to manage."

    A hiker on the bluff trail can see harbor seals swimming and flopping on the beaches below, as well as auks, red-tailed hawks, rabbits and other wildlife.The current entrance, equipped with a parking lot, is along Airport Street behind the Half Moon Bay Airport, just north of the Pillar Ridge mobile-home community. Holland said the county intends to add a northern trail connection that will allow people to walk directly from the bluff down to the entrance of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, and vice versa, rather than traverse a warren of residential streets, as is currently the case."  

    Posted by Kathy Meeh

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Award-winning documentary 'Bag It' to air Saturday on PCT

    Bag It has been garnering awards at film festivals across the nation. What started as a documentary about plastic bags evolved into a wholesale investigation into plastics and their effect on our waterways, oceans, and even our bodies.

    Recently Pacifica's Environmental Family hosted a screening of 'Bag It', which was produced by Suzan Beraza, at Mildred Owen Hall. This Saturday, August 20th at 3:30 PM, you can watch it in the comfort of our own home on Pacifica Community Television, Comcast Cable 26.

    So grab some popcorn, tune in to PCT and ask yourself, is your life a little too plastic?

    To watch a trailer of the movie go to:

    Ian Butler

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Saving the coast from the developmentally disabled?

    The Truth About BIG Wave
    Scott Holmes, past City of Pacifica Engineer is viewed by some as helping save our city from development.  Now he finds himself on the other side of that issue as Project Engineer for the "Big Waive" development.  Having fun yet, Scott?

    The Big Wave Group. This is the organizational foundation in El Granada that hopes to provide housing and organic farming employment for adult developmentally disabled individuals, in an environment in which "... adult individuals with developmental disabilities could reach their full potential". The project would also include commercial space for local businesses. 

    Sounds good, except in the spirit of "no good deed goes unpunished" the competing organization that would  Stop Big Wave includes those who would "save the coast" by developing almost nothing. Champions all, these include:   Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club,  the Committee for Green  Foothills, Surfrider, San Mateo County League for Coastal Protection.

    The Big Wave mixed-use village/farming project was approved by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, but the opposition has allied against the project with other vested-interest local organizations, namely Pillar Ridge Homeowners Association (225 manufactured, mobile home affordable housing community), Montara Water and Sanitary District, Granada Sanitary District, and  the California Pilots Association.  It appears that the water districts would need to improve their sewer plants, and the Pilots Association might be concerned about the land location next to the Half Moon Bay airport. The environmental organizations are concerned about the usual:  frogs, marsh, tsunami and earthquake potential. For related articles see "Big Wave = Big Pave" on the Stop Big Wave website (link above) and  Coastsider, 4/19/11.

    News update from The Half Moon Bay Review, 8/11/11. "The proposed Midcoast development known as the Big Wave Project is in a sort of project planning limbo. Local groups in opposition to San Mateo County's decision to greenlight the project have blocked the process on two fronts: by appealing to the California Coastal Commission and through a joint lawsuit against the county. "  The lawsuit hearing is set for November, the Coastal Commission is currently reviewing the appeal. The cost to develop "has already cost the project backers more than $1 million".   Read the full article.

    Posted by Kathy Meeh

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Stupid City Hall tricks: : terra nova resurfacing/school session

    here you go. Had all summer to do this. Now they screw up student arrival/drop-off at 2 schools plus morning commute, plus library patronage.
    Best we can do: re-scehdule to start after 9AM and pick up job a round 2:45 before either school lets out.

    mark stechbart

    Yes we are getting ready to resurface Terra Nova Blvd. from Everglades to Oddstad.

    The tentative schedule is as follows:
                Concrete work – August 22
                Pavement grinding – August 29 and 30
                Pavement overlay – August 31 and September 1

    Please let me know if you have any other questions.

    Take care,

    Raymund Donguines, PE
    Associate Civil Engineer
    City of Pacifica
    (650) 738-3768