May 1 was the anniversary of the Northern California Marine Protected Areas http://www.caloceans.org/mlpa-regions/north-central-coast that stretch from Alder Creek in Mendocino to Pigeon Point in San Mateo County. One year ago, this system of undersea parks was created to protect treasured coastal areas such as Bodega Head, Point Reyes, Fitzgerald, and the Farallon Islands. It connects with a network of protected areas along the central coast http://www.caloceans.org/mlpa-regions/central-coast, and will eventually form part of the statewide system called for in the Marine Life Protection Act.
California’s marine protected areas act as sanctuaries for marine plants and animals, but they also give visitors a chance to learn about sea life, and function like living laboratories where scientists can study the impacts of different activities on ocean systems. Coastal residents helped to design the north central coast's marine protected areas, and they continue to play a hands-on role in their management, helping to staff citizen science programs, educate the public about new rules, and keep their eyes on the water. Right now, government and community groups are working together to gather information the state can use to assess the effectiveness of the new protected areas. Here are three cool collaborative efforts:
I hope you will help to celebrate this milestone and raise awareness about these programs as well as the marine protected areas themselves, which are great places to dive, tidepool, kayak, and watch birds and other wildlife.
OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) – Rises in fuel prices have led to an increase in the number of used fryer grease rustlers roaming restaurant alleys in the United States. Grease thefts have spiked whenever fuel prices climbed during the last four years and this spring is no different, according to Tom Cook, president of the National Renderers Association. "It's on the rise and it's because of higher oil prices," Cook told Reuters in a telephone interview. "I have one member who told me it's costing his business $1 million a year." Recyclers typically contract with restaurants to pick up the waste product. The grease is cleaned and sold for use as biofuel, livestock feed and other products.
An Omaha recycler has filed theft reports with police in Omaha and Lincoln in Nebraska, and Sioux City, Iowa. Thieves recently stole about 4,200 pounds (1,909 kgs) of used grease from six Lincoln fast-food restaurants. Processed fryer oil is not trash. It is called yellow grease and is traded. Its value is driven by higher prices of gas and ethanol. Recyclers and collectors pay restaurants about 18 cents a pound for grease. After further processing, it can be sold for 42 to 45 cents a pound, said Cook, who is based in Alexandria, Virginia. Yellow grease was trading for less than 8 cents a pound in 2000. Cook said he plans to conduct an industrywide survey to determine the extent of the losses.
Many restaurant owners don't realize what they are losing and local law enforcement agencies have other crime-fighting priorities, he said. One way to curb demand for stolen grease is to alert potential buyers, especially in the feed industry, to only buy from known sources to ensure the product they receive is free of impurities and moisture, Cook said. "The price (of yellow grease) is real good right now," he said, "and those who steal it are really getting a good deal because they're not paying for it."
Florey's Books invites you to its poetry series on the last Saturday of each month from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Each evening has featured poets, as well as an open-mic period. Sign up for open-mic from 7 to 7:30 p.m. Florey's is at Palmetto and Hilton, across from Pacifica Library in Sharp Park.
Committee for Green Foothills (CGF) has filed suit in San Mateo Superior Court against San Mateo County in an effort to prevent the controversial Big Wave Project from moving forward. Big Wave proposes to build 225,000 square feet of office and commercial space, plus housing for 50 developmentally disabled adults and 20 caregivers in a Tsunami Hazard Area next to the environmentally sensitive Pillar Point Marsh in Moss Beach.
“The Board of Supervisors ignored basic common sense in granting approval for this project,” says Lennie Roberts, CGF legislative advocate. “This project threatens our waterways and puts dozens of our most vulnerable residents at risk. Turning a blind eye to the many real dangers associated with the Big Wave Project will not make them go away.”
Big Wave is the largest development San Mateo County has ever approved on the coast. It would nearly double office and commercial space between Pacifica and Santa Cruz. The 46-foot-high office park buildings would loom over single-story homes, farmed fields, and preserved open space.
“California’s strict environmental review laws are in place for a reason,” says attorney Winter King of the law firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, which represents CGF in the lawsuit. “The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors overstepped its bounds when it approved this project despite gaping holes in the environmental impact report. How will the project dispose of its sewage? What will the residential facility actually look like? These fundamental questions were never answered.”
The project is within the mapped Tsunami Hazard Area, which was evacuated in the wake of the Japanese earthquake on March 11. The Board of Supervisors approved the project on March 29. The proposed building site is next to an active earthquake fault, and is on sandy soils that are highly susceptible to violent shaking, liquefaction, and other earthquake hazards. San Mateo County is potentially vulnerable to a large tsunami event that could be spawned by a major underwater earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which stretches from Cape Mendocino to Vancouver Island.
“As the parent of a developmentally disabled daughter, I fully sympathize with the need for expanded housing for developmentally disabled adults in the county, but this is clearly not a suitable location,” says Lennie Roberts. “Placing these individuals in mortal danger is not a reasonable solution to the County’s housing challenges.”
The environmentally sensitive Pillar Point Marsh, home to a wide diversity of species, including the California red-legged frog, could also be affected by the project. The project’s stormwater drainage and wastewater disposal systems are inadequate. Pollution from stormwater runoff and possible sewage overflows would severely impact the marsh.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the state Division of Aeronautics, and the San Mateo County Department of Public Works also have objected to the project. The county is at risk of losing federal funding for airport improvements due to fundamental incompatibility of the proposed housing in such close proximity to the airport.
Approval of Big Wave has already been appealed to the California Coastal Commission by CGF in partnership with the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club, San Mateo Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Pillar Ridge Homeowners Association, and San Mateo County League for Coastside Protection. Two additional appeals also were filed with the commission by the Granada Sanitary District and by the commission itself. The commission has the authority to amend the approved project or prevent it from moving forward.
GREEN FOOTHILLS The Committee for Green Foothills (CGF) has been working to prevent unwise or poorly located development throughout the Peninsula since 1962, when it was founded by a handful of citizens and activists to save Peninsula foothills from sprawling development. The organization’s mission is to protect and preserve the hills, forests, creeks, wetlands, and coastal lands of the Peninsula through grassroots education, planning, and legislative advocacy. CGF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
SMW LAW Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP (SMW) specializes in government, land use, natural resource, and environmental law. Since 1980, the firm has provided representation to public agencies and community groups throughout California. Known for its commitment to promoting environmental and community values, SMW is at the forefront of major land use and development issues facing California today.
This is a program to train people to install their own greywater systems that use laundry wastewater to irrigate their gardens. The program will pay for much of the material expense and the training itself is free. They are looking for volunteers; if you are interested, contact Jeff Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org
The following is a blog we wrote about the program: Rags to Riches --This is hopefully the first installment of a rags to riches story: how discarded water from your laundry (that’s the rags part) can turn into edible riches. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commissionhttp://sfwater.org/home.cfm is launching a new Laundry to Landscape pilot program, the object of which is to install greywater systems that utilize laundry wastewater for irrigating landscaping, thus reducing water and sewer use. The program is aimed at single and duplex home owners, and includes a short training class and subsidized sale of the necessary piping equipment.
For those not familiar with greywater systems, they involve the use of wastewater from bathroom sinks, showers, bathtubs and laundries to irrigate landscaping (and in some cases for toilet flushing). Wastewater from toilets, utility sinks and kitchen sinks are not included, as they contain much more bacterial and chemical components and need more sophisticated treatment. Bathroom sinks, laundries, showers and tubs, given the use of appropriate cleansers, are considered safe for use in landscaping, as long as some basic precautions are taken with how the water is distributed. The state has even legalized ‘simple’ systems, involving water from a laundry, without needing a permit. More complex systems are also possible. Check out the Greywater Alliancehttp://www.greywateralliance.org/ or Greywater Actionhttp://greywateraction.org/ for general information.
The program is being run by the Urban Farmer Storehttp://www.urbanfarmerstore.com/ of San Francisco, and they are looking for 150 volunteers for the pilot. The benefits include a $95 subsidy on parts and training by experts. This will cover most of the costs for many people. We intend to irrigate edible plants -- a small fruit orchard and blueberry bushes – with our system. It may take a few years for things to mature (growing edible plants in San Francisco’s climate is always a challenge!), but we have hopes for a cornucopia.
Robert and Christine Boles Beausoleil Architects 745 Faxon Avenue San Francisco, CA 94112 415.587-2004