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October 2013

Last Hours: Climate Change Could Lead to Extinction

Last Hours

Our planet has nearly died before. Five times in the deep geologic history of planet Earth, massive quantities of greenhouse gases have been released through the Earth's crust. One was provoked by a meteorite strike, others by tectonic and volcanic activity. In each case, these massive releases of greenhouse gases warmed the planet enough to cause global mass extinctions—the death of more than half of all life.

Last Hours is a film that explores the possibility that we could be close—centuries or perhaps just decades—to tipping points that could lead to a sixth mass extinction. Last Hours relies on input from some of the world's leading scientists.

 “It's almost impossible to know when you have passed a tipping point," says Thom Hartmann. "You only see them in retrospect. So we have to do everything we can now to avoid inadvertently hitting tipping points that might lead to catastrophic methane releases.” Hartmann's most recent book, The Last Hours of Humanity, goes in depth on the topic.

While climate scientists rarely study mass extinctions, geologists are quite familiar with them. And increasingly they are speaking out about how our extraction of carbon fuels from beneath the earth and burning of them into the atmosphere is mimicking processes that, in the deep geologic past, have caused mass extinctions.

“Geology is a patient teacher and it repeats its lessons over and over again," says Last Hours co-producer George DiCaprio. "Last Hours explains that the same chemical circumstances will yield the same results. There is no reason to suppose otherwise. It's time to tell everyone that global warming may cause a calamity; we have no time to waste.” 


Was City of Pacifica Press Release an Illegal Action?

By Lamont Cranston, Special to Riptide

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The City of Pacifica issued an undated press release (click link for PDF) on or about September 19, 2013, stating that meetings planned by the City Council to hear citizen comments about the highway-widening project would have to be delayed "until the legal issues are resolved."

But no council action approved this policy decision, and there was no statement about how this policy position was reached. This was not an official council action, so the press release was an unauthorized, unapproved statement of a new council policy.

The press release was printed on city letterhead but not attributed to anyone. No contact information was given, as is usually the case with a press release. No one on the letterhead was designated as a media contact for comments or information.

The press release quotes Mayor Len Stone as saying the council is “forced to wait to move forward.” But this is untrue. In the past, the city has held hearings on projects that were the subject of litigation. The council is not “forced” to NOT hold hearings on the widening project.

Not having hearings is clearly a policy decision, not a requirement. But who made this decision? The mayor does not have the authority to make such a decision for the entire council. The council must vote on any such decision for it to be an official policy position. Is the statement of an unauthorized, unapproved council policy in a city-issued press release an illegal action?


Pacifica Scores Big Among U.S. Suburbs: High Employment, Low Crime

Survey Results
Ian Butler forwards this news flash: "We're #18! Pacifica was rated as America's 18th-best suburb overall, 3rd-best for employment, and 7th-best for lack of crime."

Of peculiar note, Pacifica tied for 18th with Chicago suburb Skokie, Illinois, known as "The World's Largest Village" and also known for the 1977 Skokie Affair.


Help Pacificans for a Scenic Coast Stop Highway Widening

To support Pacificans for a Scenic Coast (PSC) in its legal challenge to the Caltrans final environmental impact report (FEIR), you can make a tax-deductible donation with PayPal or credit card online.

Click to Donate

Pacifica's Environmental Family is PSC's fiscal sponsor, so be sure to click "Add special instructions for the Recipient" and type in "for PSC" or "for Pacificans for a Scenic Coast" so your donation goes to the right place. The web page has information on mailing a check.
More Info Here


Wild Ride on a Busy Bus

By John Maybury, Editor & Publisher

SamTrans’ number 14 bus circles Linda Mar and Park Pacifica several times a day, straining to climb uphill, then rumbling downhill in low gear. Most passengers are school kids, but a few adult shoppers take the 14 to Park Mall and Linda Mar Shopping Center. Using my Clipper Card, I ran an errand recently on SamTrans and was amazed when a couple boarded the bus with a surfboard and a huge inflatable swim ring. The bus driver waited patiently till the beachgoers were safely seated with their gear, then off we went.


The Rock: Proposed Development Would Tower Above Highway 1

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FASSLER & ROBERTS RD.  copy 2Photo by Bob Pilgrim; renderings by the developer

By Todd Bray, Riptide Correspondent

On October 21 the city Planning Commission held a heavily attended Study Session about "The Rock," that humble outcropping (above at left) across from Sea Bowl. Also above are architectural renderings for "The Rock" proposal at 4545 Coast Highway, or to us locals, the southeast corner of Fassler and Highway 1.

Looking at the elevation and the four computer simulations above, the proposal is nine stories tall after all. Planning Director George White misrepresented the scale of the project in his study session notice by declaring the proposal to be only 41 to 45 feet tall. The proclaimed 22,000 square feet of commercial would be less than 9 percent of the overall project, which means the proposal is not a mixed-use development as claimed by White.

The proposal is a nine-story condo development with a five-story detached parking structure. Judging from the simulations, the applicant (who lives in Woodside) has put no thought into our surrounding community, as the project looks like it's on the Mendocino or Carmel coastline, not at the corner of Fassler and Highway 1.

The building is presented as two separate structures, but they share all utility and mechanical, so they are really one building, not two. The current proposal has 63 residential units, with two to three bedrooms each.

This proposal is a direct consequence of Caltrans' proposed Calera Parkway Project to widen Highway 1. In previous interviews, city planner Lee Diaz has stated that the proposal was always put off because of traffic issues associated with the project's residential units.

Even without possible highway widening, this new project should be shelved. But, of course, we now have a rubber-stamp planning director and a rubber-stamp planning commission, so this monstrosity is a real threat.
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The Rock: "Alcatraz/San Quentin" Look Not Right for Pacifica

By Rush Limbo, Riptide Wrangler

Just as the highway-widening debate heats up, an out-of-town developer proposes to build a nine-story colossus on top of The Rock at Highway 1 and Fassler. The architect's renderings look like San Quentin or Alcatraz.

The property owner (applicant) is Guru Thalapeneni, 1920 Glenbrook Road, Glenbrook, NV 89413. He apparently also has or had an address in Woodside, California. He is the founder, president, and CEO of Remoba, a mobile technology company, with almost 3,000 Google entries. You could look him up.

The City of Pacifica Planning Commission met in a public Study Session on October 21 to look at this controversial proposal. Inexplicably, the city had ham-fistedly posted a confusing and misleading notice on its website about the Study Session. The headline for that date said the regular commission meeting was cancelled. Nevertheless, dozens of citizens found their way to the unfriendly confines of Council Chambers to hear the Planning Commission's concerns about the proposal.

But if you clicked the link anyway, you got: 
And clicking yet one more time took you to:

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Bray's alternative (top), applicant's proposal (bottom)

By Todd Bray, Riptide Correspondent

To further the debate, I offer this to the Pacifica Planning Commission, the general public, and the applicant: a three-story alternative to the nine-story proposal for the Sea Rock condos (aka The Rock) at Fassler and Highway 1.

By losing the top building and two floors of the bottom structure, I think a proposal of this scale, with an iconic coastal veneer of shingles, would not have much, if any, opposition. It's one-third the size of the project to date but still would allow for seven units and (possibly) a rooftop bar and grill.