Raptorama is here again. Tickets are selling fast to take a walk on the coast's wilder side with Bay Area bird experts! Learn firsthand about coastside raptor habitats, including Wavecrest, Pillar Point Marsh, Pescadero State Beach, and Half Moon Bay State Beach. During the weekend of November 7-9, a diverse series of birding workshops and walks are available, including dinner with keynote speaker Glenn R. Stewart, director of the Predatory Bird Research Group, University of California at Santa Cruz. Workshops are indoors and include topics such as raptors, birding photography, and children's birding. Walks are outdoors in small groups to explore the local habitats listed above. For workshop and event details, and to purchase tickets, please visit Raptorama.org.
Coastside Land Trust Art Gallery presents its 2nd annual "California Raptor Show," opening on Friday, November 7 from 5 to 8 p.m. The exhibit features 26 local artists who have captured California's diverse raptor population through art. Mediums include oil, watercolor, batik, acrylic, mixed media, wood carving, and fine-art photography. All art is for sale. Show dates: November 7 to February 13. Gallery hours are Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and by appointment. Coastside Land Trust is dedicated to the preservation, protection, and enhancement of open space, including the natural, scenic, recreational, cultural, historical, and agricultural resources of the San Mateo County coast, for present and future generations. 788 Main Street, Half Moon Bay, 650-726-5056.
I was born in Pacifica and have lived here all my life. As a lover of the natural world, I have pitted myself over the years against any development that would not add to but only take away from the quality of life here on the coast.
Now we face what a growing number of Pacificans realize is the WORST AND STUPIDEST IDEA: widening Highway 1 between Rockaway and Vallemar. If you think the traffic mess at the Pedro Point bridge project has been rough, just wait. This massive construction project between two major stoplights at the center of town would go on for two years at the very least, and judging by how far off-schedule Caltrans has been on other projects (Devil's Slide Tunnels, Bay Bridge), it likely would be MUCH longer.
Thanks to Caltrans shutting out public commentary and railroading the review process, this mess is about to happen, something most coastsiders do not realize. And for what? Imagine, if you will, a section of 280, a freeway more than twice the width of Highway 1, bordered by 14-foot-high concrete walls—a freeway that encourages drivers to bypass local businesses and jockey for position as the lanes squeeze back down into the existing road.
Why is Caltrans so eager to transform Highway 1 into a freeway with bottlenecks at both ends? Is it so that demand for another section, and then another, would follow? NOTHING in this plan would improve commuter traffic! Even traffic consultants working with would-be quarry developer Don Peebles said this approach was expensive and useless.
Don't take my word for it. These pork barrel projects have been happening everywhere. Let's not make the same mistake! This article spells it out better than I can. Check out "Building Bigger Roads Actually Makes Traffic Worse":
Without support for transparency and a fair process in our own city government, this may be a done deal. A new City Council seems to be our only remaining recourse. Keener, Digre, and Dougherty are the candidates who have the backbone to say, "This makes no sense. It's WRONG for Highway 1." Without their votes and voices on council, this may be a done deal.
Alternatives that could actually address congestion have not been fully examined. Please contact Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives PH1A or on Facebook. Heads up, Pacifica. We are being railroaded, in the true meaning of the word.
Our well-informed source says, "The Rockaway Quarry FOR SALE sign came down, plus I just ran into a city insider, and that person has heard that the quarry has been sold, but whoever bought it didn't contact the Planning Department to ask about the quarry's zoning, history, and 12-year-old environmental impact report (EIR), so if it is sold, it's sold to another sucker. I'm hoping it's the Canadian a------- who are helping Tait with Harmony @ 1. The first house at Harmony @ 1 has plans into the Planning Department, but the plans are being returned to make the house comply with the Conditions of Approval in the subdivision's EIR. Yay, Planning! And here is your fun fact: Before an occupancy permit can be issued for any house in the Harmony @ 1 subdivision, ALL the sewer lines, electrical, water, cable, and access road(s), etc., must first be built, assembled, and have a final OK by Planning to sign off on the new infrastructure."
Pacifica Tribune interim editor Horace Hinshaw says he "decided to suspend the column indefinitely" (my weekly "Wandering & Wondering"), and would not discuss the matter until after the election "to avoid any controversy."
But in his October 15 "Editor's corner" in the Tribune, Hinshaw wrote: "The suspension of John Maybury's Wandering and Wondering column has sent a flurry of letters to me, requesting the reinstatement of his column. John's supporters are under the impression that he would not return as a weekly contributor to the Tribune. That was not the intent. In my discussion with Mr. Maybury I told him we would re-visit a time for him to return after the Nov. 4 election. However, with the misunderstanding -- and it's probably because of the word 'indefinitely' being used instead of saying 'after Nov. 4' in my statement last week -- I want to defuse this matter now. Mr. Maybury has the opportunity to resume writing his weekly column on Wednesday, Nov. 5." (Editor's corner)
On the October 15 and October 22 editorial pages and the Tribune website, Hinshaw ran several protest letters. Several other letters we know of were submitted to the Tribune but have not yet appeared in the newspaper or on the website. Some of these "missing" letters are archived here on Riptide in the Comments thread below this post.
Hinshaw wrote in an editor's note October 15: "There have been some internal production changes at the Tribune and it may be that the cyperspace [sic] thief got their hands on them."
As a freelance writer contributing my column to the Tribune for the past 15 years (formerly with pay, but now unpaid), I have no contract. But I protest this unfair suspension of my column during the election season. I did nothing wrong.
My personal endorsement of City Council candidate John Keener appeared in a full-page ad that Keener paid for and Hinshaw accepted and published in the Tribune's Coastal Connections supplement, and also on a Keener campaign mailer. The ad and mailer simply said "John Maybury, Pacifica Riptide and Tribune" (as is often done on campaign literature for identification purposes only), not implying that the Tribune endorses Keener. More important, I did not endorse ANYONE in my column itself.
Please click the Comments link below this post to join the conversation. I also invite you to contact Hinshaw and his superiors (see email addresses at the bottom of this post).
October 29 is my next deadline to turn in copy for the next column. Until then, I will give serious thought to the future of the column. Thank you for supporting my column and upholding the principles of fair play, free press, and free speech.
Letter to the editor, Pacifica Tribune, October 8, 2014: As a freelance newspaper columnist ("Wandering and Wondering"), I do not speak for the Pacifica Tribune when I endorse John Keener for Pacifica City Council. That is my own personal opinion. (John Maybury, Moss Beach) — Editor's Note: In an endorsement publication for John Keener, Mr. Maybury was listed as a writer for the Tribune, implying that the Tribune is endorsing Mr. Keener. Mr. Maybury is not employed by the Tribune, but rather is a freelance contributor. The Tribune does not endorse any candidate for City Council. To avoid any controversy, Mr. Maybury's column has been suspended indefinitely.
I sure hope you check out the e-book on iTunes and iBooks (free sample available). It includes illuminating stories, pictures, and videos on Yosemite's native people, soldiers, artists, climbers, promoters, and protectors. For me, it's been a wonderfully intense work of love and discovery. Twenty percent of all proceeds from the e-book go to support Yosemite Conservancy's restoration and education projects in the park.
Mitch Reid wrote to Caltrans on October 13 to explain how the San Pedro Creek bridge project and Pumpkin Fest would create a perfect-storm traffic jam:
"The problem is simply inadequate signage and signage placement. Three signs now warn of the detour ahead, one 100 feet before Crespi Avenue on the beach side of Highway 1 at ground level, which cannot be seen if a car is in front of it. One standard "Detour Ahead" sign is near the beach parking lot. The third is a lighted sign near Taco Bell about two car lengths ahead of the divided barrier that is causing traffic to squeeze in at the last minute, creating a bottleneck. This problem could be addressed easily by simply placing better signage well in advance of the detour, anywhere north of this area. At or before the Rockaway Beach intersection would be ideal."
Caltrans listened, adding two new lighted signs north of the detour. It still is a mess, but at least Caltrans took some advice from a non-traffic engineer. Way to go, Mitch!
Alan Wald wondered whether our designated driver departing from the north end of Pacifica heading south on Highway 1 would ever reach the Pumpkin Festival. "When will our D.D. cross the intersection at Highway 92 in Half Moon Bay?" Alan asked Riptide readers. Well, now that nobody turned into a pumpkin, click the Comments link below this post to see who guessed right, who guessed wrong, and everything else in between. Feel free to leave your comment, too. It was one helluva weekend. Hint: The smart money just stayed off the road. And one bit of bad news: A woman drowned at Gray Whale Cove.
One can scarcely turn on the news today without hearing the latest frightening statistics about the 2014 African Ebola epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that before Ebola is contained, some 20,000 people will have been infected, and it will cost $600 million to fight this outbreak. To date there is no cure, but promising new treatments and vaccines are being developed to battle the disease first identified in 1976.
What Is Ebola? According to comprehensive Centers for Disease Control (CDC) studies, Ebola is a virus or group of viruses that originated in central Africa, possibly in birds. The main reservoir for the virus now is thought to be African fruit bats.
In people, the virus causes headaches, muscle and joint pain, fever, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, and then progresses to kidney failure and the hemorrhagic stage, when the victim begins bleeding internally and externally. Among primates, including humans, the disease is 50 percent to 90 percent fatal.
Which Creatures Are at Risk For Ebola Infection? Ebola is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be passed among species. The most adversely affected group is primates, including gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, and humans. Other animals known to have been naturally infected are African fruit bats, antelopes, porcupines, rodents, pigs, and dogs. No documented infections in felines have been reported at this time.
How Is Ebola Spread? Ebola is spread in several ways. An important study done by CDC infectious-disease experts and veterinarians following the 2001-2002 Ebola outbreak concluded that consumption of infected meat was one avenue. Gorillas and other primates kill and eat infected animals, African hunters trade in "bush meat," and people who consume that can become infected. An important way Ebola is spread among humans is by direct contact with body fluids such as urine, saliva, vomit, feces, semen, sweat, and blood from infected individuals. Objects such as needles may also be contaminated with infected fluids.
How Do Dogs Get Ebola? Dogs and other animals pick up Ebola from consuming infected meat, direct contact with infectious fluids such as urine, and feces. Dogs are kept as pets and for hunting in Africa but are not typically fed, therefore they scavenge and ingest infected meat or residue from infected people. The very detailed CDC study found evidence of infection in dogs by testing hundreds of blood samples for antibodies.
Can MY Dog Get Ebola? In the United States and areas of the world not contiguous to the affected countries in West Africa, the chances of contracting Ebola are extremely low. The virus is spread mainly in the current prevalent areas where the lifestyle is far different from ours. There is no known source of infection outside of affected areas in Africa. In our country, and most countries with more stringent rules concerning food production and sanitation, our pets should be protected as well as we are from this type of catastrophic disease.
What Are Symptoms of Ebola in Dogs? The CDC concluded that infected dogs are asymptomatic (do not develop symptoms) from Ebola. But during the initial time of their infection, they can spread the disease to humans and other animals through licking, biting, grooming, saliva, tears, urine, and feces. But once the virus is cleared from the dog, it is no longer contagious. Dogs do not die from Ebola infections. (Source: Pet Place)
With all the tumult about the Harmony @ 1 development above Roberts Road, the truth is that it's years too late. What we need is an early-warning system for these kinds of projects so that we can have an opportunity to affect their outcome. We've had an early warning on the Gypsy Hill project. We need to become informed now or in a few years we will be wondering how it all happened:
This potential development encompasses two tracts in East Sharp Park, totaling about 30 acres. One is about 26 acres below Sharp Park and Gypsy Hill roads, and above Brighton Road to the north, colored green in the figure above showing the proposed construction. It is severely sloped, with spectacular views of the coastline and ocean.
The other is an "L"-shaped 4.4-acre tract, also steeply sloped, with Frances Avenue to the west and Clarendon Road, a "paper" street, to the north. It is colored yellow and orange in the figure above.
The 26-acre plot (in green) currently has a land use designation of commercial or residential/open space, and is zoned Commercial (C-2, residences not permitted), with a Hillside Preservation District (HPD) overlay. The Hillside Preservation District limits the area of the parcel that can be disturbed, for example, by houses, roads, or construction equipment, using a calculation based on the steepness of the land. HPD is certainly appropriate on this piece of land, where the risk of slippage or landslide due to construction activity threatens the houses below.
Neighborhood activists thought they were working with the landowner toward a bed & breakfast or a conference center. But the Draft General Plan Update changes the land use designation from commercial to very low-density residential, which may permit 0.5 to 5 acres per residence, or up to 52 residences on the 26-acre tract. This change from commercial, with no residences permitted, to very low-density residential is an example of a change in the Draft General Plan Update that favors development at the expense of community groups.
The development plans call for 16 residences, or about 1.6 acres per residence on the 26-acre tract. Note that the calculation required by the Hillside Preservation District has not yet been made. This calculation is critical for evaluation of the project. About 4.5 acres of the 26-acre tract would be designated a park, and a trail would be constructed up the hill to the rest area on Sharp Park Road. A left-turn lane would be required on the eastbound (uphill) part of Sharp Park Road, as would a right-turn lane in the other direction.
The "L"-shaped second parcel of about 4.4 acres (in yellow and orange) by Francis Avenue and Clarendon Road is slated to get 10 residences and 16 below-market-rate units. The below-market-rate units are apartments or condos, four to a building, in the northwest corner of the project. This parcel is divided between two tracts zoned single-family residential, one B-3 and the other B-10, and is also in the Hillside Preservation District. The owners probably plan to get changes made to the zoning for these tracts by trading zoning rights among the parcels to accommodate their building plans.
Under current zoning (shown in the figure above), this project could not be built. It depends on a land use designation that has been changed in the Draft General Plan Update, in spite of opposition expressed by community groups and others at study sessions and forums. Those who oppose this development will find their first battle in trying to reverse that change made in the draft plan. The next phase will probably be a struggle over the details of the Hillside Preservation District and zoning regulations, and how they will apply to the property. Bear in mind that the plans, if permitted, would transfer with any sale of the property.
There is much at stake. Not only are the views of the hillside likely to change forever, but building on that hillside may increase the risk of landslide. Traffic on Sharp Park Road will be impacted, and one of the main approaches to Pacifica will be marred. And the property is a wildlife corridor. This is an opportunity to preserve the hillside character of Pacifica, which together with our coastline is our environmental heritage.
Lost in the election/highway hullabaloo is a little item on the October 13 City Council agenda: Recology requests a 1.87 percent increase in solid-waste collection rates. Doesn't sound like much, does it?
Gaze upon the chart below (courtesy of the City of San Bruno) to see how much 14 nearby communities pay to have a 32-gallon can of garbage picked up every week. Pacifica pays the second-highest rate for residential garbage collection, and in commercial rates, we're number one! Take that, evil business community!
Perhaps citizens would care to ask their favorite candidates for City Council if they favor an open, competitive bidding process for the privilege of collecting Pacifica's solid waste. That process starts soon, as the current contract ends in December 2017.
There is also an option for council to do what it does so well in the back room: Section 3.03 of the contract allows the city to extend the contract by another five years merely by providing written notice to Recology at least one year before the end of the contract. Please click Comments below this post to join the conversation and see what other people are saying about this issue.