OWN VOICE. ~ InPerspective by Gregg Dieguez —
Here are 5 Coastside Concerns and Controversies to go with your Cup of Coffee and Cupcake. And what you can DO about each of them. Oh, and one lingering issue…
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There’s a group of 58+ people working with Steve Gallup who are trying to resolve the excessive noise – and numerous complaints thereof at Half Moon Bay airport (HAF). They may have already accomplished one thing: the County wasn’t reporting any complaints, and apparently they now are going to start tracking them. John Ullom has created a real time tracking device which plots altitude as well as route and makes the evidence tangible. But this group may or may not go far enough, and I’m suggesting the MCC hold a hearing on this issue, to provide a public forum for residents and pilots alike. The use of leaded aviation gas is of concern to some, and they’re growing FOOD near that airport. If you want to join in, NextDoor has a Group called “Reduce repeated Touch-and-Goes over homes near HMB Airport” which you can click to contact and join. Steve’s latest update is here: Flying schools are listening to that group, which is a positive step. With the increased population density, and the change in office/home work resulting from the Pandemic, more people than ever are finding noise a problem. Should you care to join in, this is the online noise complaint form for Half Moon Bay Airport.
People are currently dying at an annual rate of over 900,000, and yet people seem ‘immune’ to the problem. Those who never wanted to follow public health guidelines and who find vaccines an infringement of their ‘freedom’ want all restrictions lifted. Those who are boosted as well as vaccinated also want to return to normal life, because they are pretty safe, at least from SERIOUS disease. But we still don’t know the frequency and severity of Long COVID, and don’t have the public health infrastructure of well-run countries to test, trace, and isolate to prevent viral spread. I say this because our free government test kits still aren’t here, 16 days later.
Now children are dying at an increasing rate, which is low compared to adults, but still on par with the Polio outbreak which triggered a successful vaccination campaign in the 1950’s. In round numbers, the peak year of 1950’s Polio was 3,000 deaths, 22,000 paralyzed, and 58,000 cases. With COVID, we’re over 1,200 deaths, 6,000 cases of severe multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and 7.5 million childhood cases. And over 120,000 COVID deaths don’t report the age of the individual, so those numbers are low.
We marshaled an entire country for a disease that killed only 0.3% (three-tenths of one percent) as many annually. I’m at a loss for words.
OFF-LEASH DOG WALKING
But people were NOT at a loss for words when the MCC held a meeting on the proposed off-leash dog-walking pilots in Quarry Park and Pillar Point Bluff. At the last minute (meaning 11:55pm) the MCC changed their initial draft letter, edited it on the fly, did not allow public comment on the two revised letters, and by a vote of 5-2 endorsed the Quarry Park pilot and opposed the Pillar Point pilot – all based on a new letter submitted about 30 minutes before the meeting. It’s clear from the 200+ emails I read from residents that the Quarry Park pilot was endorsed. As far as the Bluff goes, the off-leash people clearly lost the precincts in Menlo Park and Portola Valley (and other distant provinces), but overwhelmingly won the local vote. Those last minute distant emails were spurred by Green Foothills, which participated minimally in 6 years of meetings on the off-leash program, yet are vocal in protecting the environment. My NO vote was triggered by two things: First, I view it as unacceptable to act on material submitted minutes before a vote, with no opportunity to digest and research its claims – NOR to allow public comments. Secondly, and I’m still researching this, but it appears that 40% of our County households have a dog, and pay taxes here, but only 8% of SMC Parks allow dogs AT ALL, let alone Off-leash – so supervised pilots seem a minimal step toward “dog equity”. This topic will be worth a longer article, once I have the opportunity to confirm and assess the evidence, but it should not have been voted on as it was.
SCHOOL TRAFFIC SAFETY
A child was nearly run over at an un-signed intersection near Farallone View School in Montara. Prior years had similar events. The Connect The Coastside plan includes installing signs at a couple of intersections and a “Safe Routes To School” project – but that could take a year or more. A group of parents and school administrators approached the MCC, and I’m working with them to try to get the Department of Public Works to IMMEDIATELY put Stop signs at intersections of concern. As DPW reminded me, there are rules they follow in determining necessary traffic controls (see at right >>). However, this need is: a) near a school, b) on streets with no sidewalks, and c) already endorsed in concept by the CTC planners. I am preparing an email to the County. If you would like to co-sign it, please email me at MCCGreggD@gmail.com with the title “I support Montara Traffic Signs” and permission to use your name and email (you will thus be copied).
During December storms, HMB sewer flows caused the SAM treatment plant to overflow. 80% of the peak flow came from HMB, because: a) they have no wet weather storage for sewage (as the northern agencies DO have in the Intertie Pipeline System), and b) they have an excessive amount of leakage from storms into their sewers. Without quick work by the SAM crew, the entire plant could have been put out of operation. HMB has spent their money on lawsuits and libraries; now they need to address the inadequate sewer infrastructure they should have spent the past several years fixing. This also means, temporarily, that we should allow no new sewer connections in the Midcoast until this problem is proven remedied. Expect a lot of profit-making real estate interests to oppose THAT, yet not want to fully fund that infrastructure. More on this, you can bet, in the coming months. HMB residents will have to be part of the solution, and that starts with new council members in this fall’s election. So raise your hand if you want to become part of competent leadership in HMB.
PACIFICA – PLANNING TO FAIL
Speaking of sewer spills, Pacifica had it far worse. But there are bigger problems there than sewer overflows. The City hasn’t updated its general plan in 40 years, and has now issued an incompetent document leaving out, or using outdated maps and information on, a suite of potential hazards. It’s not just me talking; a group of Pacifica residents have sued the City over incompetent (or corrupt?), dangerous mis-planning. Their city council is dominated by real-estate sponsored candidates. And this is coming to a sharp point as the City grapples with state-mandated housing & population increases while already short on drought water and working sewer infrastructure. If only there were a way for voters to insist on local determination of what made sense for their city planning…. Oh, there is? Gather some signatures, and take control of your city/town/County. Write me if you want information on how to collect signatures.
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.