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August 2010

Great White Shark Sighted off Linda Mar Beach

KGO News photo

A large shark was seen attacking a sea lion Monday afternoon in the ocean about 150 yards off Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, police said. Witnesses said it appeared to be a great white shark, 18 to 25 feet long. Shortly after noon, a surfer reported seeing the shark thrashing about with the sea lion in its mouth just outside the breakwater, said Capt. Fernando Realyvasquez, a police spokesman. Realyvasquez said it was the first local shark sighting in several years. Police posted signs on the beach alerting the public and suggesting caution before entering the water. (E-mail Bob Egelko at

Pacifica Land Shark Rescue (VIDEO)

Bernard Prinz shot and edited this amazing video of a man on Sharp Park Beach rescuing a baby shark that washed up on the sand. The rescuer tried returning the young fish to the surf, but the waves pushed it back to shore. Watch the video to see how this daring fellow overcame the forces of nature and found a way to accomplish his goal.

Barking Dogs: The Bane of My Existence

This is a shaggy-dog story, so bear with me. I like dogs, really I do, but I can’t stand my inconsiderate neighbors who let their mutts bark continually. I feel surrounded. The worst part is that the City of Pacifica noise ordinance is toothless. Its bark is worse than its bite. To initiate action against a habitual violator, you have to keep detailed records of noise violations, including date and time barking started and stopped, whether the owners were home, their location, your location, incident description, and the name, address, and phone number of the neighbor verifying the incidents. You have to record at least eight of these incidents, at least five minutes each, on separate days within a one-month period. Your witnessing neighbor has to attest to at least five of these incidents. You have to personally speak to the offending owner, send two signed and certified-mail postcard complaints to the owner, attempt civil remedies (whatever the hell that means), and try to get the owner to agree to mediation. Once you complete this mini law school course of form filling and surveillance, you turn the whole mess over to the police, who forward it to the city attorney. If you haven’t checked off all the boxes and done the due diligence, they just kick it back to you. Seriously, if you don’t believe me, ask the city for this information packet and you won’t believe your eyes (but you will believe me from now on, right?). The whole procedure is so tedious and frustrating that I doubt anyone would ever attempt to use it, let alone succeed at getting the city to pursue the case. Meanwhile, I continue to phone the police for help when the barking gets really bad, and I whine to various sympathetic city officials (no names given, to protect the innocent, but really, they do sympathize with me and acknowledge that our noise ordinance is pretty useless). I also whine to my friends in POOCH, Pacifica’s official canine special-interest group and lobby (full disclosure: I even helped judge POOCH’s Dog Daze event). POOCH officers also have been quite sympathetic and have offered to intervene with the offenders, dropping off information packets and suggesting ways to help correct habitual barking. By now you may have sensed my anger, not only with the thoughtless people who let their dogs bark all the time but also with the city government that cannot truly help or protect citizens from thoughtless dog owners who break the law [Pacifica Municipal Code, Title 6, Chapter 1, Section 6-1.206(c)]. And now you know why I am a cat owner. My cats never wake up my neighbors, never disturb the peace, and never annoy a blogger.



More Housing Bubble Value Wiped Away: Assessment Declines Slow in 2009

The San Mateo County Assessor's Office issued a report in July 2010 that indicated a slowdown in the decline of assessed residential real estate values. But the dollar amounts of assessed value declines and the estimated drop in property tax revenues for towns and cities are still staggering.
In 2008, the overall decline in assessed value of residential properties in San Mateo County was almost $4.2 billion, with an estimated property tax decline of almost $42 million. Some 27,679 properties were reassessed that year. But with only 1,601 reassessments in 2009, another $1.5 billion in value was wiped away, with a corresponding hit to towns and cities of more than $15 million in lost property tax revenues.
In Pacifica, a quarter-billion dollars in inflated values disappeared in reassessments in 2008, while in 2009, further reassessments downward were almost $49 million. Although much smaller than in 2008, it still means almost a half-million-dollar loss in Pacifica's property tax revenue last year.
The figures in the reports imply that higher-value properties were in faster decline, as can be seen in Atherton's numbers. In 2008, the total assessed reduction in values was almost $121 million on 131 properties in the wealthy town. In 2009, only 59 properties were reassessed, but the reduction was even larger at $125 million. Hillsborough, the other small and wealthy enclave in the county, tells the same story: 2008 saw 164 properties reassessed downward by $106 million, but in 2009, 124 properties were dropped by $148 million.



Has Beans: Cafe de Mi Abuelo

Check out the good locally roasted coffee beans from Café de Mi Abuelo at Coastside Farmers Markets, Oceana Market, and New Leaf Community Markets. This is a shade-grown, high-altitude, bird-friendly estate coffee from Nicaragua, cultivated and harvested organically and sustainably by one family, thus the name, which in Spanish means “coffee of my grandfather.” Info: ABUELO, 650-712-1456 Banner

Dave Crimmen's Images of America: Broadmoor Village @ Florey's Books

Florey's Books invites you to read local author Dave Crimmen's new book Images of America: Broadmoor Village. Broadmoor Village, the little community that embodies the American ethic of independence, survives despite neighboring annexations, budget crises, and even Mother Nature. This subdivision was built in San Mateo County by the Stoneson Company just after World War II, targeting returning veterans and their families. Established before Henry Doelger built neighboring Westlake, Westmoor, St. Francis, and other communities since annexed by Daly City, Broadmoor has repeatedly chosen to stay unincorporated and independent. This attitude has shaped Broadmoor through the years to assert its autonomous stature while surrounded by larger cities. Crimmen lived in Broadmoor Village for 30 years, where he graduated from Garden Village and Ben Franklin schools. Dave is a professional musician whose original music has been used in major motion pictures like The Game, starring Michael Douglas, and also in television shows like CBS's Cold Case and Fox's Melrose Place. This collection of images from the Broadmoor Police Department, Broadmoor Property Owner's Association, Westmoor Alumni, and the author's personal archives tells a real-life version of David vs. Goliath. Look for an interview in the Pacifica Tribune. See the Facebook page for BROADMOOR VILLAGE

Florey's Book Co., 2120 Palmetto Avenue, Pacifica, 650-355-8811
Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day!

San Mateo County Coast Agriculture Booming

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Strawberries and wine grapes enjoyed a sharp increase in value in an otherwise down year for much of San Mateo County’s agricultural industry, according to the 2009 Crop Report. The value of all San Mateo County crops in 2009 was $149,226,000, an 8.3 percent decrease from the $162,726,000 value posted on 2008. The decline reflects the overall economy as growers planted fewer indoor and outdoor flowers and nursery crops. “While most people think of San Mateo County as fairly urban, the coast is mostly agriculture,” said Fred Crowder, the Agricultural Commissioner. “Much of that industry suffered in 2009 because of either falling crop prices or slack demand for nursery stock, cut flowers and even lumber.” Crowder presented the report Tuesday to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. The report provides an insight into an industry that is often overshadowed by the biotech, software and financial services firms that are just minutes away from family farms and ranches. Crowder estimates the agricultural industry contributes more than a half-billion dollars, or $522 million, to the local economy each year through employment, purchasing and other factors. Brussels sprouts accounted for $7.4 million of the $16.1 million in vegetable crops grown in 2009. Brussels sprouts were a bright spot for farmers, shooting up 27 percent in value from 2008 even with less acreage. Strawberries rose in value by 155 percent to $1.3 million with 29 acres given over to planting compared with $543,000 and 24 acres in 2008. Wine grapes rose 29.9 percent in value to $625,000 with a modest 135 acres planted compared with $481,000 and 96 acres in 2008. The crop categories showing the greatest losses were floral and nursery stock with an $8.86 million (6.6 percent) decline, vegetable crops with a $4.25 million (21 percent) decline and forest products with a $1 million (58 percent) decline. Reduced sales are responsible for the declines in floral and nursery stock; the closure of the county’s largest mushroom operation is responsible for the decline in miscellaneous vegetables; while the decreased production of forest products reflects the construction downturn, according to the report. The California County Agricultural Commissioner’s Data for 2008, the most recent State report summarizing agricultural production by counties, reports San Mateo County as being the number one producer in the State of indoor potted nursery stock, the number two producer for Brussels sprouts and the number three producer for artichokes. The report is available online on the San Mateo County website under Departments, Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures, Agricultural Crop Report, 2009 Crop Report.

HEAT WAVE: Pacifica Beaches Like Coney Island

All you sun worshipers out there, get your fill of heat today. Then let's get back to cool and foggy weather, the way it spozed to be here on the coast. This late-August heat wave is causing illness, dehydration, and Spare the Air days. Even trains have  to slow down because high heat softens and stretches the rails (a phenomenon known as heat kinks, for all you metallurgists and railfrans). Caltrain reports major delays up and down the Peninsula due to "heat restrictions" to protect the railway from damage.

To Mosque or Not to Mosque

I join those who have called for looking into how is this opposition to the mosque being funded. How is this being ginned up?” (Nancy Pelosi)

After reading what the second-in-line to become president said concerning the planned construction of the famous mosque/not a mosque, Islamic victory/not a victory monument, Islamic community center in a building damaged by one of the suicide airliners, I decided to investigate myself since I unwittingly found myself in opposition to all the pro-Islamic liberals who've now decided that if the right wing comes out one side of an issue then naturally they have to come out on the other side regardless of how strange it is to be in bed with a religion that would quickly kick them out of bed as soon as they find them between the sheets.

I quickly discovered that my source of funding was somewhat limited by the fact that the economic recovery had not yet reached my pocketbook. Was I against the mosque simply because I didn't have a job? No. Was I against the mosque because the imam was on a State Department junket to the Middle East on what used to be my dime? No. Or was I against the mosque/not a mosque because it was a chance to agree (probably for the first time) with the majority of my fellow citizens? Definitely not!

I finally decided that the real reason I was against the mosque/not a mosque was because President Obama refused to comment on the “wisdom” of building the mosque/not a mosque in the location chosen by the imam/representative of the State Department. If the president can't comment on the “wisdom” involved in this situation, then there must be some information that hasn't come to light and it would be precipitous of any citizen not in possession of all the facts to be in favor of building it when the president, who has access to the largest and most powerful intelligence apparatus in the world, can't or won't let us small people know whether or not it's a wise thing to do.

So Ms. Pelosi, I've investigated myself to the best of my ability and I've come to the unhappy conclusion that it's the president himself who has “ginned up” this controversy. This of course is not to deny the fact that in asking how the opposition was “ginned up,” you also should take some credit for the “ginning up." But that was your intention, n'est-ce pas?

MANAMA  Bahrain -- The imam spearheading plans for an Islamic  center near Ground Zero said the attention generated by the project is positive and he hopes it will bring greater understanding.

P.S. Hope springs "POSITIVELY" eternal!


(will fast for food)

UPDATE: Guide to Reuse, Recycle, Compost, Trash

For the benefit of Bruce Hotchkiss and other Riptide readers who are still confused or unclear about what to put where and when, here is our handy guide to getting rid of all your stuff in the right containers on the right days. This is general information only. For specifics, visit RECOLOGY OF THE COAST or call 650-355-9000.

BLUE RECYCLING TOTER (biweekly pickup): plastic containers #1-7, glass bottles and jars, cans (aluminum, tin, steel), aluminum (foil, pie plates, takeout containers), newspapers, magazines, phone books, most kinds of paper, unwaxed cardboard. Everything must be empty, rinsed, and clean. Place used batteries in a sealed, clear plastic bag and leave on top of blue recycling toter. (Recycle clean, dry plastic bags at Safeway, Oceana, and other markets. Recycle styrofoam pellets and blocks at the Recology yard on Palmetto; the UPS store—now in Rockaway—no longer accepts styrofoam pellets, probably because it sells them by the bag.)

GREEN COMPOSTING TOTER (weekly pickup): garden greenwaste; ALL food (including tea bags, coffee filters, coffee grounds); milk and juice cartons (remove any plastic spouts); soiled paper and cardboard (used paper towels, napkins, and plates; takeout food wrappers and containers, such as pizza boxes), unpainted and untreated wood.

TRASH CAN (weekly pickup): bagged kitty litter and pet waste, unrecyclable plastic, broken glass, light bulbs, cellophane, rags, cloths, hair and fur, anything else that can't be reused, recycled, or composted. New wheeled trash toters coming in July!

Visit RECOLOGY OF THE COAST or call 650-355-9000 for information on getting or exchanging different types and sizes of toters, how to safely dispose of various toxic substances (home, garden, and automotive), and specific instructions on correct recycling and composting.