OWN VOICE. ~ InPerspective by Gregg Dieguez —
For you old folks, the new definition of an Easter Egg: “an unexpected or undocumented feature in a piece of computer software …, included as a joke or a bonus.” … And when you open them, something interesting pops out. In honor of Easter, this article contains a suite of topics that just open (to mix metaphors) several Pandora’s Boxes of problems and issues to come. They’re each brief, because it will take full articles to get to the bottom of each. But we need to talk…
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Wildfire Prevention: Who’s in Charge here?
The MCC April 14th session on wildfire had 91 attendees, and several agency luminaries, but didn’t seem to make progress on the main issue: removing eucalyptus. CalFire estimated the cost of removal at $150 million, which I would like double-checked. Nor has there been any progress on the locked gate atop El Granada Blvd. There are indications of progress on steam-lining eucalyptus removal permits, but no indication that costs will be reduced, or better yet, a bounty placed on those trees to motivate removal. For me it starts with a basic question: Who’s In Charge Here? And we still don’t know who will own and lead this removal problem, so expect the MCC to try to solve that issue.
The County is still avoiding solving what we described in our prior article [Fighting the Wrong Fire], that wind-driven fires caused by power lines are the biggest risk. Our government seems to be still echoing this sentiment:
WATER supply update – Oops!:
SFPUC released its water supply plans, and forecast a 40% cutback in drought years IF the Bay Delta Plan is adopted, which they expect by 2023. Details for each local water agency on Hetch Hetchy supply will vary based upon contract details, so look for your water agency’s Urban Water Management Plan, due by June. Also, early signs are the drought is very bad. Implication question: why are we building more housing? – we’ll just make everyone more miserable and/or have to spend billions and raise water rates a lot to fit in more newcomers, whom we’ll be subsizing.
We re-learned that we’re in a Tsunami danger zone, and it’s bigger than we expected. Take a look here. It would wipe out Big Wave, the housing for special needs children. Despite the USGS warnings of increased risks locally, CalFire decided to relocate the new EG fire station in the tsunami zone, saying it’s safe based on a National Academy of Sciences 2012 report!!! What about a more RECENT source?!? Oh, and did someone look at whether the roads and fuel and water supply would be working, even if the fire station building survives? It’s clear Hwy 1 would be broken in several places, so why aren’t we building the re-route for that Hwy NOW, in Montara, at Surfers Beach, etc.? I can’t find any plan in the recent Connect The Coastside study to address this.
The new tsunami risk map makes it real clear that a development near the beach is a terrible idea, even though “someone” dug out all the red legged frogs’ nests to anticipate an EIR objection. But there is SO much irresponsible, profiteering ‘development’ on the table for Pacifica that it will take another article. Wonder what a tsunami would do to Pacifica’s sewer infrastructure near the coast – would the entire city be immobilized? Don’t be surprised if a Grand Jury investigation is called to investigate the profiteering, err… ‘planning’ practices in Pacifica….
There are new water pollution problems being identified both by a program called First Flush and by the Regional Water Quality Control Board, which is about to set limits on pollution. Our beaches have been cited repeatedly as among the most polluted in the state. SAM is still looking for the source of recent high pollution levels in Princeton. It may surprise you that pollution comes from population, and we may have too much of both. Nonetheless, the push for affordable housing and the new housing goals (RHNA – Regional Housing Needs Assessment) set by the State at the request of the real estate industry – are running headlong into each other. Either we stop population growth here, or ?what? Spend a ton of money, paid for by the existing residents, to allow more newcomers? Doesn’t sound fair to me. Also, note the evidence in our prior wildfire articles…
… that building in wildfire areas is the problem, and yet we keep approving more building.
The MCC is going to be discussing the HMB lawsuit against SAM and its partners in May. Question for the public: what would you like the MCC to do about it? At present, it is likely to cost each MWSD or GCSD sewer connection ratepayer about $1,000 and could rise to four times that amount in just the current decade. If you’re an HMB resident in Frenchman’s Creek or Miramar, then your town is suing you….
REDISTRICTING! Don’t Lose Your Representation!
Because of the recent Census, the County will be re-drawing the district lines – which will affect how we elect our County officials, most importantly your member of the Board of Supervisors. To date, the MidCoast has been, with HMB, part of a single district served by Don Horsley, who understood our Coast well from his decade(s) serving as Sheriff here. Don is retiring this coming election, and I wish him well. But we might lose not only a valuable representative, but also our voice in the County – almost completely – if we do not participate in redrawing the district boundaries.
For example, imagine if “they” drew horizontal lines east-west which divided the County evenly by population. The already-small 2 or 3% we represent would be ‘lost’ in districts where almost all the population is “over the hill”, and the level of attention we currently get (which many already feel is insufficient) would become virtually nil. More logically, in my opinion, would be to retain coverage of the Coast, and moving inland – as needed and logical – to cover the appropriate number of people to justify a District. That way people who understood the needs, value and problems of the Coast – while still a minority – would at least be a relevant portion of the electorate to one (1) of the five supervisors.
However, I will not be making this decision. A new Commission will be. (Elected officials cannot serve, thus while I’m interested, I’m ineligible.) SO, I am asking for a MidCoast person (or a few) to apply as described here. Please do keep me/us informed of your interest and progress, in the event I/we can help advance your candidacy.
SAMTRANS – Coming or Going?
An effort called Reimagine SamTrans is starting, and the concern is that it might be stopping needed services MidCoast. Members of the public are encouraged to provide feedback online at http://www.reimaginesamtrans.com/ The commenting window will close on May 31st. Michelle Dragony will likely have much more to say about this…
Where’s the Money?
In February – triggered by Cid Young’s interest in a community center for the MidCoast – I wrote the County for an accounting of the Mid-Coast Parks Development Fund created in 2003 and funded by a small fee on new development, to be used to acquire or develop parks to be located in and primarily used by Mid-Coast residents. (Ordinance Code § 2.64.060.). The Controller pointed me to the Parks and Planning depts. The Parks Director said: “wait until March 24th or so”, and then I got a reply from seemingly every lawyer on the County staff, debating whether I had a right to answers for some of my questions, further postponing a reply which will require review by the Chief County Counsel, and attaching a dump of every transaction since 2003 in the fund – without identifying labels on the disbursements. Wonder why there isn’t a basic set of audited annual financial statements easily provided by the Controller? Stay tuned…
Governor or Grandstander?
Newsom announcing reopening the economy on June 15th is a dangerous stunt. For one thing, we don’t know how the variants are going to affect us and our vaccines. For another, we don’t know if vaccine supplies are going to keep up. Here in SMC we certainly had cutbacks for a few weeks while Newsom sent doses to SoCal, and when the J&J vaccine was suspended and had production problems. He may have been trying to instill hope, but my sense is he just undermined people’s willingness to comply with mask-wearing, or to get vaccinated. In the last month, I see very few people still wearing masks on the trails, something that was overwhelmingly prevalent 2 months ago. Why didn’t he wait until we had vaccinations, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths at some predetermined safe level? Could it have something to do with looking good before a Recall Election?
Vaccine Passports? YES!
Our economy has not just been ‘shut down’ because of Governors issuing public health orders. It has been shut down because people don’t TRUST their health protection in public spaces. For over a century, countries have required proof of vaccination before allowing travelers to enter. So the concept of a “vaccine passport” is nothing new. It would make ME feel safer, entering a crowd, if I knew that everyone was vaccinated, and thus motivate me to go out for food or entertainment. I can see a competitive advantage for businesses willing to require proof of vaccination, but I’m not forecasting human behavior in this pandemic, because it hasn’t been what I would have expected in a lot of places.
The state is facing its third driest year on record, and a possibly disastrous fire season. The area across NorCal experiencing the driest water year since at least 1979 (in dark brown) has expanded dramatically over the last 2+ weeks, now extending all the way to the Oregon border. Now about that Bay Delta Plan taking away half our water in drought years, and those still wanting to build more housing here…
— Silu Wang 王思露 (@silurian_wang) April 13, 2021
Mr. Dieguez is a native San Franciscan, longtime San Mateo County resident, and semi-retired entrepreneur who causes occasional controversy on the Coastside. He is a member of the MCC, but his opinions here are his own, and not those of the Council. In 2003 he co-founded MIT’s Clean Tech Program here in NorCal, which became MIT’s largest alumni speaker program. He lives in Montara. He loves a productive dialog in search of shared understanding.