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!
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)
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.
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.
In early October, Pacifica Tribune interim editor Horace Hinshaw said he had "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 October 15 and 22, the Tribune editorial pages and website ran several protest letters. Several other letters that we know of were submitted to the Tribune but have not 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 all along I have protested this unfair suspension of my column during the election season. I did nothing wrong to deserve this.
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. 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.
At the October 13, 2014 Pacifica City Council meeting, Mayor Nihart took a moment to wag her finger and lecture the citizens of Pacifica on their oh-so-silly notions about this city’s so-called $4 million deficit.
Apparently, there is no such deficit and she’d really appreciate it if everyone would just stop being troublesome troublemakers who are only demonstrating their ignorance by constantly harping about this teensy little pile of disappeared money.
Besides, it’s probably around here somewhere in a drawer, a shoebox, or a dirty sock. We’ve got a guy—sorry, a consultant—poking one of those metal detector wand things around the office. Only $25K to hire this guy. Found him on Craigslist—a real steal. Oops, heh, sorry.
Anyhoo, the point is that we’re pretty sure we’ll find the missing money, which really has noooothing to do with our budget anyway, so everyone can just shut up and settle the hell down! __________
(transcript of October 13 City Council meeting)
Nihart: City Manager, I’ve heard this enough. I’m…I’m done with it. There is no $4 million deficit.
Tinfow: No, there’s no $4 million deficit in the general fund. What the speaker is referring to and which the council is well aware…in putting the budget together last spring, I did identify some other funds—not the general fund...the general fund is balanced, it’s our operating fund—but some other funds where there are some deficits that we’re investigating at this point.
Nihart: And those funds are funds that are grant funded. They’re special funds, they’re other kinds of earmarked funds that have nothing to do with our budget, our balanced budget, or any of those kinds of things.
Tinfow: That’s correct. They’re referred to typically as special revenue funds—
Tinfow: —with strings attached.
Nihart: —and so when, for example, you get money from C/CAG to build something and you maybe spent more of that than you thought you did and…that’s what you’re tracking down.
Tinfow: That’s exactly right.
Nihart: Thank you. And for anybody who’s confused about that, city manager has gone through it with all of the candidates, so they should be well aware. ________
Actually, Madam Mayor, the city manager walked you (and the rest of council) through this on June 23, 2014, as I’m sure YOU’RE well aware. __________
(City Manager’s Message: 2014-15 Operating Budget; June 23, 2014)
The City’s full budget includes more than just the General Fund, even though that is the topic that often gets the most attention and for good reason. However, there are a number of other funds that make up the City’s full financial picture and that are important to understanding the City’s overall financial status.
Fortunately, remedying the approximately $4 million total deficit shown across several funds is a problem that isn't required to be fixed overnight.
Over the course of several years, we can bring these funds into balance on an installment plan with several possible revenue sources such as the following:
Applying future annual revenues we receive;
Assigning a portion of General Fund balance revenues toward the amounts;
Using one-time revenues such as the proceeds from the sale of the Beach Blvd. property;
And lastly, directing available Excess ERAF funds toward these deficits.
An outcome of this approach is that some planned activities over the next few years will be delayed or possibly eliminated. I will return to Council in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2014-15 with a preliminary plan to fix the deficits based on information collected between now and then including a “second opinion” by a financial services professional to confirm or modify these results.
I dream that this giant wooden horse comes to our poor little village, bringing inside it great riches for those who believe in Manna. Boy oh boy, what a big surprise! This could save our poor little village! We would be so lucky if the wooden horse came here. Let's all dream and make it happen. Just say YES!