California Coastal Commission (CCC) responds to City of Pacifica request to change Local Coastal Plan for proposed Beach Boulevard project (aka The Old Sewer Plant). Officially known as Amendment # LCP-2-PAC-14-0173-1, this is a working draft. The proposed project is intended to be integrated into Pacifica's General Plan. The city's information about this project is published on the city website at the link below:
The City of Half Moon Bay is scrambling to account for a $4.3 million discrepancy in its budget after an unnamed employee apparently forgot to record a city payout as an expense. This snafu (reported by the Half Moon Bay Review, January 21) comes on the heels of the City of Pacifica "search" for a missing $4 million in its budget. We're waiting for the other shoe to drop. Who's next? Daly City?
By Carlos Davidson, Special to Riptide On January 13, a spirited group from the Pacifica Climate Committee greeted commuters with signs urging President Obama to veto the Keystone XL pipeline. Similar rallies were held in 160 communities across the country. If Congress approves it, the pipeline would boost development of tar sands oilfields in Canada, and increase greenhouse gas emissions. When the fight against Keystone started, it seemed a long shot. No major fossil fuel project has ever been stopped because of its effect on climate. Keystone could be the first. Obama has threatened to veto legislation authorizing the pipeline. Climate activist Bill McKibben recently wrote: "The fossil-fuel industry’s aura of invincibility is gone. They’ve got all the money on the planet, but they no longer have unencumbered political power. Science counts, too, and so do the passion, spirit, and creativity of an awakened movement from the outside, from the ground up."
Pacificans should be interested to learn that the City of Pacifica appears to incorrectly calculate its annual sewer charge. I will briefly summarize the main points as I understand them.
The city calculates the annual sewer charge based on each residence’s water use. Up front, it's important to know that all Pacificans have the same six bimonthly water billing periods for any sewer charge (February-March, April-May, June-July, August-September, October-November, December-January), irrespective of when meters are read for any bill period.
At issue is whether the "two consecutive highest rainfall months" methodology used by the city is a correct restatement of the "bi-monthly water billing period of highest rainfall" as found in the Municipal Code.
According to the Municipal Code, the city must compare each residence’s total water consumption for the year to six times its water consumption in the "bi-monthly water billing period of highest rainfall". Then the lower of the two values is multiplied by the predetermined sewer rate to arrive at the sewer charge.
The main idea behind this rationale is that during the water billing period of highest rainfall, irrigation should be lower, and so water consumed should more nearly match actual sewage produced. Residents with low water consumption (and lower actual sewage produced) pay the minimum amount, or about $580 for the most recent sewer charge year.
For the most recent sewer charge shown in the figure below (Sewer Charge Methodology Errors), the city did not select the "bi-monthly water billing period of highest rainfall". Instead, it used the "two consecutive highest rainfall months" of November 13 and December 13, which totaled 1.26 inches of rain; since these two consecutive months bridge two different water billing periods (October-November & December-January), the city selected one of the two (December-January) for multiplication by 6.
But neither October-November (0.91 inches) nor December-January (0.36 inches) represent the "water billing period of highest rainfall". According to the Municipal Code, since the "water billing period of highest rainfall" was February-March (1.16 inches), each residence’s water use in February-March should have been chosen in the calculation.
The city has not selected the correct water billing period in three of the past five years, as shown in the Five Year History at the bottom of the figure below. Rainfall totals for the city’s chosen bill periods are ranked and compared to the correct bill periods; note the years for which the city has selected the bill periods of third-highest or fourth-highest rainfall.
For the two years in which the city correctly calculated the sewer charge, note that the "two consecutive highest rainfall months" coincided with the "water billing period of highest rainfall". Pacificans whose water use was lower in the "water billing period of highest rainfall" than in either the city's chosen bill period or the annual consumption were overcharged.
Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson stands up to Big Oil and questions the safety of Valero oil trains coming to its Benicia refinery. Read more at the link above. And let this be an encouragement to all local government officials to think and act for themselves, and not get pushed around by corporate business interests.
In an upset victory in the November 4 elections, Pacifica voters sent a clear and unequivocal message of opposition to a Caltrans proposal to widen one section of Highway 1 in southern Pacifica, and of support for alternatives to the widening.
Anti-widening candidates were elected to two of the three seats by significant margins. Incumbent Councilmember Sue Digre, who opposes the widening, finished as the top vote-getter, with just under 20% of all votes cast, significantly ahead of the other incumbent, Mike O’Neill (just over 17%).
Even more striking was the victory of newcomer John Keener, who centered his campaign on the highway issue, opposing widening and favoring alternatives. Keener garnered 16.5%, just half a percent less than veteran O’Neill, and well ahead of several other candidates who had far more experience and name recognition in Pacifica politics, and who spent far more money.
Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives (PHIA) strongly endorsed and supported Keener's and Digre's campaigns. PH1A held two large public forums and several rallies, carried out a high-profile campaign gathering more than 1,000 petition signatures to get the Pacifica City Council to hold public hearings and hire an independent consultant to explore more effective, less disruptive alternatives to the Caltrans widening.
Now that the Pacifica City Council election is behind us, it’s time to analyze the results, specifically whether they are a mandate against the Caltrans widening plans for Highway 1 between Rockaway and Vallemar, by all accounts the primary issue in this election cycle.
Of the seven candidates, three were against widening, one was for, and three were vague or uncommitted on the issue. Three distinct tiers of candidates emerged: incumbents, contenders, and also-rans. In each tier, the anti-widening candidate fared the best.
Sue Digre, anti-widening incumbent, has a solid base of constituents, but many of her supporters had grown frustrated by her inability to build consensus and her increasing isolation on the council. Nevertheless, she beat popular incumbent Mike O’Neill by a solid 704 votes for the top spot.
Of the contenders, John Keener was the long shot. He was virtually unknown until a few months ago, and not a polished public speaker, yet he snagged the third seat, solidly trouncing Eric Ruchames, a popular school board member with deep roots in the community, and Victor Spano, who finished second two years ago and who basically has been campaigning for nearly three years.
Keener actually got more Election Day votes than O’Neill, and finished only 101 votes behind him (and a whopping 639 votes ahead of fourth-place finisher Eric Ruchames). Since Keener made opposition to the highway widening the centerpiece of his campaign, people on both sides of the issue framed Keener’s campaign as a clear referendum on the widening.
As for the also-rans, 23-year-old anti-widening newcomer Matt Dougherty beat 82-year-old pro-widening Therese Dyer by 554 votes, and on Election Day even got more votes than Spano. Matt has a bright future and could be a legitimate contender in two years with a little seasoning. Therese was the only candidate to unequivocally support Caltrans' widening plan, thus her poor showing, getting only 8 percent of the total vote despite decades in the public eye, implies weak support for the widening plan among the public.
Additionally, the low turnout of a midterm election usually skews toward older, conservative, absentee voters. All three anti-widening candidates fared considerably better on Election Day than they did with absentee voters. Thus, it is likely they would have finished even stronger in a higher-turnout election.
Although many factors are involved, making it impossible to fully separate the signal from the noise, surprisingly strong showings by all three anti-widening candidates suggests that this election was indeed a mandate against widening Highway 1. Our public officials would be wise to take heed.
Richmond, California. All progressive eyes around the country were focused on this blue-collar city of about 100,000, where Big Oil and Wall Street sought to oust a progressive local government that has been battling big business for the past decade. Instead, the lefties won against overwhelming odds. Under Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and her progressive allies on the City Council, Richmond has challenged Chevron, which owns a huge refinery in the city, to clean up its pollution, pay more taxes into the city coffers, and be a more responsible and accountable corporate citizen. Faced with a decade of predatory lending and an epidemic of foreclosures and “underwater” mortgages, Richmond city officials pushed back against Wall Street banks, demanding that they help troubled homeowners save their homes. In Tuesday’s election, community groups, labor unions, the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) and others mobilized a grassroots campaign to protect their gains and elect a progressive slate against candidates hand-picked and funded by Chevron and the real estate lobby.
The progressives won, despite operating on a shoe-string budget. City Councilman Tom Butt was elected mayor with 51.4 percent of the vote. He defeated Nat Bates, a longtime councilman who was heavily funded by Chevron but only managed to win 35 percent of the vote. The progressive slate of council candidates appears to have swept the four available seats. McLaughlin, the city’s termed-out mayor, won her City Council race as did her allies Jovanka Beckles and Eduardo Martinez. As of early Wednesday morning, progressive-backed incumbent Jal Myrick trounced fellow City Councilman Corky Booze for a two-year seat. If these leads hold, no Chevron-backed candidates will have won, despite dramatically outspending their progressive opponents. The RPA, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and SEIU waged a major grassroots get-out-the-vote campaign that triumphed over the Chevron funded assault that included an expensive flood of mailers, phone calls and an oil-stained local online “newspaper.”