OWN VOICE. ~ InPerspective by Gregg Dieguez —
One thing we’ve been missing during this Pandemic: Gossip. We can no longer sit around the bar or coffee shop and exchange news, views, and character assassination like we used to. I’m here to help….
Images: most will enlarge for improved readability in a new window when you click on them. Links: (colored text) will do the same.
1. Well, we finally found out what the lawsuit by HMB vs. its sister agencies in SAM is about: Money. Of course we KNEW that, but now we have a better idea about how much. When the HMB reps again voted to approve some infrastructure projects last week at SAM, but read a prepared statement to the effect that: “if we win the lawsuit you have to pay us back”, I did some digging. It appears that there is about $6 million up in the air on similar projects. So, if HMB’s share of the cost is zero, instead of about 50%, then that’s an extra $3 million facing MidCoast (and some HMB) residents using MWSD or GCSD.
Especially in light of the recent excellent strategic sewer presentation by MWSD (here), that lawsuit looks less and less justifiable, and more and more likely to de-motivate any thoughts (as Supv. Don Horsley suggested at the MCC retreat) of forming a consolidated city out here. We’ll do some more digging on the lawsuit, but it’s a real financial liability hanging over the heads of MidCoast residents.
2. It really, really looks like we’re getting a new Pump Track in Quarry Park. Thanks to local thought leader and activist Chris Johnson, and to the suite of El Granada residents who wouldn’t take No for an answer and – in best Field of Dreams fashion – built it so they would come, and to Nick Calderon of SMC Parks, who listened at a critical time.
3. Local gadfly Cyd Young really wants a Community Center for MidCoast Residents and believes she has found some money in the San Mateo County Mid-Coast Trust Fund which accumulates Development Mitigation Fees from new construction. She’s worried the County is spending that money, intended for ONLY MidCoast recreational infrastructure, on other matters and thus undermining funds which could be used for a community center. I agreed to look into the matter with/for her. A local official (and some gossip) told me GCSD is looking into converting the old firehouse into a community center, so maybe there’s an opportunity to ensure full MidCoast resident access by helping fund that effort with this trust fund money. Stay tuned.
4. Pat Foster of El Granada had a eucalyptus tree fall on her house in the middle of the night, and she’s wondering what’s holding the County up from removing all permit barriers to eucalyptus removal? We’ve heard plenty of MCC presentations that they are a non-native invasive species, which pollute the soil for other plants, which can fall and cause damage, which are a major fire risk, and which – while they are ‘homes of opportunity’ for some local fauna are NOT the native habitats thereof. So months after this issue was raised to the Board of Supervisors, what’s the holdup?
5. In a related matter, some homeowners are willing to take matters into their own hands, and money, and remove those trees, but the County’s wood chipper program has gone quiescent until JUNE ?!? Michelle Dragony points out the program was a tremendous success in La Honda, and Jill Grant of the MCC augmented concerns about the timing delay. They dragged Kellyx Nelson of the RCD into the conversation and the RCD is looking into more/earlier dates.
6. Keith Mangold is also a man in a hurry, because his home would be in the path of a crown wildfire at Quarry Park. Four (4) months after he wrote the presentation in this article: Hanging Fire: Eucalyptus Crown Fires and El Granada on the imminent wildfire danger, he’s wondering what’s being done. He wants to present an updated slide show on the risks at an MCC meeting. The answer is: stuff is being done, but there seems to be no coordinated status reporting on it. I’ve asked the County to provide such reporting at every MCC meeting. The challenge is our balkanized governmental structure, in addition to whatever funding, legal, or logistical barriers to action also exist.
7. Shauna Pickett-Gordon of Montara has taken a close look at the lists of fuel reduction projects SMC Parks has provided and has raised multiple concerns: wildfire risks on lands that SMC Parks doesn’t control, disaster evacuation, and the lack of specificity about Mr Calderon’s proposed-projects list in terms of location (and I would add, timing, funding, and priority). To his credit Supv. Horsley has been aware of these issues and in a recent Zoom meeting raised the Hwy 1 stretch where falling eucs could block escape through the tunnel during a disaster.
8. Joe LaClair pointed out to me on Feb. 1 that the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP) was being updated (dormant since 2016?) but it appears that group will take until Dec. 2021 just to get their planning ducks in order, let alone actually get funding and boots on the ground taking action. Joe is retiring this March, and we wish him well. At present I know of no MidCoast members on the steering committee, which I suggested to Supv. Horsley via Lena should be the case.
9. I was invited by Summer Lee to speak to CPUP, a group of Pacificans concerned about yet another profiteering and damaging population expansion being planned there. A copy of my slides is HERE. It once again does appear that, with drought year water supplies threatened by 56 to 68% reductions due to the Bay Delta Plan, and increasing regulations on sewage, Pacifica could become less livable – in terms of either cost, congestion, and/or failed infrastructure. Has anyone considered the need for – and cost of – extra fire-fighting water storage at elevation that would be required for a dense new housing project high on hills? Or is the Town Council so controlled by real estate interests that they don’t care about the longer term impact on the city as long as they can make their money (and get their campaign contributions) today?
We’ve all heard about NIMBY’s, but there are two more acronyms I’d apply in this situation:
NIMTOO – Not In My Term Of Office – which applies to way too many politicans I could name…
LMMMMG‘s – Let Me Make My Money Growing … “Lemmings” (who are known to rush en masse into the ocean, so this is really appropriate in Pacifica). This is the group of people who use the term NIMBY to guilt-trip residents into allowing them to make money on non-sustainable expansion projects which will burden the city’s residents with reduced water, sewer and fire security and extra costs and congestion, forever.
10. While the Medio Bridge replacement is now under review by the Coastal Commission to decide on whether the related armoring would worsen erosion, local concerns on the erosion issue continue. Lisa Ketcham worked hard to compile the information provided on the Surfers’ Beach Erosion section of the MCC website. Dan Haggerty of the MCC has looked into new technologies for beach replenishment. County planners are excited about the West Trail Living Shoreline project at Pillar Point which may just use nature’s way to sustain our shoreline. The popular recreation area and essential emergency access to the west breakwater has been threatened with closure due to erosion since 2011. The CCC staff report calls this a “win-win for the public and coastal resources … an important project, not only for the Pillar Point Harbor area and its users and habitats, but also for the Commission, where the promise of living shorelines can be put to the test, and where lessons learned here can be applied elsewhere along the California coast.” Check back in a few decades to see if we have a real long term solution to a very Coastal problem!
Thanks for stopping by! I know I shouldn’t have had both the biscotti and the doughnut, but… Let’s get together and do this again, shall we? Perhaps in another month? In the meantime, if you have something you want to share, I’m all ears. And if it’s something the MCC should know about, don’t be shy in letting them know at: email@example.com
From: Joe LaClair <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, Feb 1, 2021 at 4:34 PM
Subject: RE: Your dept’s scope
To: Gregg Dieguez <email@example.com>
Thanks for sharing the initiative proposal. We launched the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan update this morning. Preparation of this plan is typically led by emergency managers throughout the County. This time the project involves all SMC cities, the County, most special districts, including for the first time the San Mateo County Resource Conservation District (SRCD). Many of the topics or issues that you raised, including eucalyptus removal are appropriately addressed at the planning scale by this document. Subsequent mitigation actions or projects will be carried out by the agencies, departments, etc. identified in the LHMP. The first public meeting of the Steering Committee is on Feb. 22nd. Since this project is on a rapid schedule, the project website is still in development and won’t be live until Feb. 12. I believe that many of the issues you raised and suggestions for mitigating risks can and should be addressed in the updated LHMP. Finding the resources for implementing the mitigation actions in the plan is always a challenge, but feasible. For example the SRCD received a grant for about $2 million for eucalyptus removal in Huddart and Wunderlich parks for fire hazard mitigation, and I know they’re working on other project ideas for eucalyptus removal in the County.
San Mateo County
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.