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February 2011

Wear Your Art on Your Sleeve: Arts License Plate Fees Are Tax-Deductible

Arts License Plate fees may be considered charitable contributions to the California Arts Council for tax purposes – a boon for individuals and business owners who have the iconic sunset-and-palm-tree plates on their vehicles and are helping support the Million Plates Campaign for the Arts:

Opinion: Tough Love for the Fire Tax—Just Say No

Our mail-in fire tax ballot came today. It's worded a little strangely. The YES box says, "Yes, I support the proposed assessment on my parcel for fire suppression services, including firefighter personnel, equipment and apparatus," while the NO box simply states, "No, I oppose the proposed assessment on my parcel for fire suppression services."

I went online to see how much our firefighters actually earn, because the fire tax ballot mentions it will help pay for personnel. The state controller's website has the amounts for 2009. Two of our three battalion chiefs earned over $257,000 each, with more than $120,000 of that in overtime. A fire captain earned over $153,000, with more than $40,000 of that in overtime. The rest of our firefighters earned over $120,000 each on average, and that's not including benefits. I can see why, given these amounts, the city manager wants us to tax ourselves more on behalf of the firefighters. Perhaps a better solution would be pay cuts for our heroes. At least it would show some empathy from the public sector toward us regular schmoes.

The ballot came with a breakdown of who will pay what if you vote yes. If you vote for this parcel tax and are a resident, you will add $73.17 to your annual property tax bill. You also will add the whopping sum of $678.28 to the property taxes of all our local businesses and $41.13 per acre of undeveloped parcels like Dave Colt's land on Pedro Point.

I'm voting NO because I think it is an unfair tax. That a yes vote would condemn business owners like my favorite mechanic or restaurant to an additional $678.28 a year is just too much to bear, and that friends of mine would pay an extra $41.13 per acre of undeveloped land is just plain mean, knowing how combative we as a community can be toward development. 

I'm sorry, but given its impact on others I live with here in Pacifica, I cannot in good faith vote for this tax. I urge all city employees, from our city manager to our lowest-paid hourly contractor, to take a 5 percent pay cut and pay into their own retirement like the rest of us do. We are hurting, too, and it would be nice if they could show they understand that. A simple 5 percent wage cut would more than equal the fire tax. What do you say, folks? 


Muddy Buddies Restore Pedro Point Headlands


Lynn Adams invited me to come up and see what she and her band of merry planters have been doing to restore Pedro Point headlands habitat. So on a sunny Sunday, I got up as usual at the crack of noon and drove up Highway 1 to the green gate opposite Mitch Reid Bridge @ Devil's Slide, parked in the muddy lot, and hiked up the hill to find Lynn hard at work digging water bars to channel runoff.

Others in her crew were busily planting seedlings to prevent erosion in slide areas. The entire site looks well cared for, thanks to these monthly work parties that remove invasive, nonnative plants like pampas grass, and plant distressed spaces with good native species.

Lynn's group gets guidance and financial support from the Coastal Conservancy, especially when mudslides strike. Biologist Michael Vasey of Pacifica Land Trust, which holds the headlands in trust and hopes to eventually turn it over to GGNRA, co-leads the work parties with Lynn.

The day of my visit, the volunteers had been hard at it since 10 a.m., and after I got the cook's tour of the site, with a hike up the summit trail and back down through the arroyo, we all gathered in the parking lot for Lynn's famous tailgate party spread of soup, bread, cheese, grapes, apple juice, and cookies.

To join this worthwhile undertaking and enjoy the gorgeous scenery, with ocean, mountain, and coastal views in every direction, contact:

L Y N N . A D A M S
Pedro Point Headlands, Volunteer Coordinator
650.355.1668 Office
415.309.5856 Cell


Snow Job: We Wuz Had, but Snow Falls in SoCal

What a crock! After a weeklong blitz of weather forecasts about how snow could fall at sea level in the Bay Area, the big bad Canadian storm produced some rain and wind, but no white stuff except on higher mountaintops and in a few isolated spots on the coast. From Skyline Drive, you could see snowcapped Mount Hamilton peeking out of the clouds.

It is mostly clear and cold now in the Bay Area, but at least more rain is on the way this week. To add insult to injury, our no-go snowstorm moved south and is now pelting the Los Angeles basin. Friends in Southern California tell me they are enjoying snowball fights. Eat your heart out, Bay Area! But see links below for Bay Area snowstorms of the past:

Enough snow to make a snowball covered San Francisco on the following dates: December 1882; February 5, 1887; February 28, 1951; January 21, 1962; February 6, 1976

You'll Wonder Where the Yellow Went...



Pacifica schoolteacher Angelique Barry and her husband tore out the crabgrass when they moved into their Linda Mar rancher on the northwest corner of Rosita and Rio Vista two years ago, so they were pretty surprised when bright yellow oxalis (above) took over. They plan to landscape part of the yard near the front door but leave the colorful yellow ground cover on the side yard facing Rosita. Oxalis flowers bloom in full sun, then close when the sun and temperature go down. Oxalis grows wild on the Rockaway headlands and other open areas of Pacifica, where it is considered an invasive species. Oxalis (wood sorrel) has been used medicinally throughout human history, mainly for its active ingredient, oxalic acid.



Drive Carefully & Read This in Case of Accident


Rainy weather brings slick roads and rear-end collisions. As a chiropractor, I see several people every year who have been involved in these unfortunate accidents. Here are a few tips I can pass along.

Get a police report. If you have to bring your case to litigation for whatever reason, having a police report establishes the facts and makes a record of the event that you, your attorney, insurance carriers, and health care providers can refer to. Definitely call police if you suspect a driver may be injured or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Get yourself checked out at a hospital. You may or may not have immediate symptoms despite damage done to the automobiles. Going to a hospital will enable you to have serious medical conditions such as fractures or concussions ruled out. This will give you peace of mind, and serve as medical documentation. Hospitals also can equip you with medication if you need it. Although you may not feel the need for pain medication at the onset, soreness typically takes a day or two to set in. You may find pain medication and anti-inflammatories most helpful. Better to have them on hand early than trying to acquire them while in severe pain.

Immediately begin icing. It will take a few days for the inflammation to reach its peak. Meanwhile, apply ice packs regularly to the neck and back. About 15 minutes on every two hours ought to do the trick for the first few days. Make sure to put a paper towel or two between you and the icepack. Lie face up on the icepack. Avoid the temptation to fall asleep, lest you wake up with frostbite!

Wait a couple of days before seeing an alternative health care practitioner. Once major life-threatening injuries have been ruled out at the hospital through use of X-ray and examination, you still may feel the need to get some hands-on treatment. A chiropractor or acupuncturist may be a good choice. Wait a day or two before receiving your first treatment. Symptoms can be at their worst 48-72 hours after a whiplash injury. It takes this long for the swelling to fully set into muscles, ligaments, and tendons, or “soft tissues.” This is the best time to have them examined and documented.

The first couple of weeks may involve intensive, frequent care to help you manage inflammation and pain. The second week on, the body continues laying down scar tissue and healing the area. Visits would be less frequent but coupled with exercises to help the new tissue lie down in an orderly, functional manner, as close to the original grain as possible. Week 8 and on is considered chronic care, focused on maintaining range of motion and strength and stability of the spine and surrounding soft tissues.

Get objective proof of injury. It is one thing to state that you have been injured; it is quite another to have it recorded on an MRI, CT scan, or nerve conduction study. The more objective documentation showing injury to specific tissues, the more precise your diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis will be. Try to have it done within the month of the accident to assure it is timely. Objective studies are also helpful to your case when seeking remuneration for damages.

Seek legal help. If you are having difficulty, you may wish to seek legal help. David Harte, Esq. of Pacifica has been representing people who have suffered both work injuries as well as automobile and other personal injuries. He recommends speaking to an attorney if the injuries sustained are expected to last more than just a few days into the future. What is the greatest mistake people make in handling their accident? Harte says, “Assuming that the other insurance company will pay for all their medical treatment or offer them a fair settlement value. People also do not pursue medical treatment hoping their physical problems will just go away. If you do not have a paper trail documenting your damages, you do not have damages.”

Cynthia Luce is a Pacifica chiropractor and longtime Riptide supporter.

Sharp Park Golf Course: Restoration & Recreation

Bob Pilgrim

 *** Press Release ***
A Vision for Sharp Park Comes into Focus: Restoration of Laguna Salada Wetlands Would Help Protect SF Garter Snake and California Red-Legged Frog
For Immediate Release
February 23, 2011
Contact: Elton Pon
Phone: 415-831-2782
SAN FRANCISCO -- A vision for Sharp Park could balance ecological and recreation objectives, according to findings released this week by a working group of land managers from local and federal agencies including the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Mateo County, the City of Pacifica and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.
The short-term restoration of the Laguna Salada wetlands at Sharp Park will be the first step in the recovery of the endangered San Francisco garter snake and the threatened California red-legged frog. Restoration efforts would triple the current amount of habitat available to those species by moving built up sedimentation in the wetland area and by forming a connecting channel to nearby Mori Point by moving the 12th hole of Sharp Park's golf course.
Over the long term, Sharp Park will face serious challenges from climate change, expected to cause a rise in sea level between .6 and 2 meters by 2100. A long-term plan to naturally manage the coastal areas of Sharp Park was found to be the most sustainable and cost-effective approach to creating additional habitat and breeding opportunities for the protected species. A technical study, followed by development of a range of alternatives to be set forth in an environmental document, will explore viable ways oftransitioning from the current seawall to a more natural beach and lagoon barrier system.
Further armoring or heightening of the existing seawall was not recommended to be part of any future plan because it would result in the continued and accelerated erosion of the beachfront. These land management changes are similar to those called for in the recently released Sharp Park report of Wild Equity Institute and the Center for Biological Diversity.
The working group noted that with consideration of the needs for sustainable species habitat and the more natural function of a barrier beach and lagoon system, the 18-hole golf course could be redesigned to coexist with viable populations of sensitive species in the long term.  Any long-term solution would need to address periodic flooding of the residential area.
"Our priorities have been to meet the ecological requirements of the species and to maintain golfing as a valued recreational pastime at Sharp Park," said Phil Ginsburg, General Manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, which owns and manages the park. "We also accept the consensus which is forming to naturally manage the coastal areas at Sharp Park over the long term. The working group's findings suggest there is a win for all parties and interests at Sharp which we intend to pursue."
Sharp Park is a multiple use facility owned and maintained by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, located in the City of Pacifica, San Mateo County and within the boundary of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Members of the working group include Dave Holland (San Mateo County Department of Parks); Steve Rhodes (city manager of City of Pacifica); Dawn Kamalanathan (San Francisco Recreation and Park Department Director of Planning and Capital); and senior staff from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Amy Meyer, co-chair for People for a Golden Gate National Recreation Area and a former Recreation and Park Commissioner, facilitated the six-month study. The report can be found here:

Wild Equity response:

Media Advisory, February 24, 2011

Neal Desai, National Parks Conservation Association, (415) 989-9921 x 20
Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 499-9185
Statements by Conservation Groups on San Francisco's Change of Position on
Sharp Park Golf Course Management

Sharp Park golf course, owned and operated by the city of San Francisco and located in Pacifica within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, faces significant problems with flooding, achieving environmental compliance and financial losses. The coastal wetland is home to two endangered species, the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog. A recently released, peer-reviewed scientific study by coastal restoration experts concluded that restoration of the natural lagoon and beach processes provides the most public benefit and best protects endangered species, and is much less expensive than a San Francisco Park Department plan or maintaining the status quo.

In a change of position Wednesday, the Park Department abandoned plans to reinforce a beach-eroding seawall that is needed to support golf operations; it has also concluded that current golf operations are not compatible with protection of endangered species at the site. A working group of land managers convened by the Park Department issued a puzzlingly brief two-page policy findings report on Sharp Park that agreed with the conclusions of the peer-reviewed study on the impacts of sea-level rise and coastal erosion and the futility of armoring, maintaining or further raising a seawall that protects the golf course and recommended a transition to a naturally managed “barrier lagoon” at Sharp Park. Below are statements on the position change from conservation groups involved in the issue.

Statement by Neal Desai, Pacific Region associate director of the National Parks Conservation Association: “The Park Department now appears to acknowledge the conclusions of the recent scientific study by coastal experts at ESA-PWA that preserving the current golf operations is not financially sustainable and is damaging to the recovery of the endangered San Francisco garter snake and California red-legged frog within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. San Francisco policymakers should seriously consider the science-based ESA-PWA study as a blueprint for how to solve the various problems plaguing Sharp Park so our national treasure is preserved and protected for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.”

Statement by Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute: “We agree that recreation can coexist with endangered species protection at Sharp Park; however, recreation that relies on dredging, pumping and mowing operations is not compatible with endangered species. Bay Area residents want our parks more sustainable and expect our scarce parks funding to improve the golf program and other recreational services located within San Francisco communities, not subsidize suburban golf in Pacifica. Restoring Sharp Park in partnership with the National Park Service can build a better public park that everyone can enjoy.”

Statement by Jeff Miller, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity: “The Park Department’s working group seems to be embracing a more sensible approach to restoring this important wetland and concurs that reviving the natural barrier beach and lagoon system is the only viable option for Sharp Park. However, some of the working group’s two-page ‘findings’ are unexplained assumptions and unsubstantiated assertions that lack the scientific foundation of the peer-reviewed 212-page scientific study. The best science shows, first, that restoring Sharp Park is the cheapest option, particularly compared to the San Francisco Park Department plan or maintaining the status quo; second, that restoring natural processes of the lagoon and surrounding wetlands will provide the best flood protection for neighbors against sea-level rise and coastal storm events; and third, that removing the golf course to restore habitat to the east of the lagoon is essential for the long-term sustainability of endangered species found on the site.”

Additional Information
Some of the assertions in the Park Department policy statement are unsupported and contrary to the conclusions of the peer-reviewed scientific report by coastal restoration experts. The claim that short-term habitat enhancements and golf “could be compatible” is unexplained, and the ESA-PWA report shows maintaining the golf course is not compatible with protecting the endangered species at the site, since the Park Department “restoration” plan would squeeze endangered species habitats between the golf course and the seawall in the area most vulnerable to salinity intrusion. The working group adopts the misguided Park Department recommendation to dredge the lagoon to reduce sediment, ignoring the fact that loss of open-water habitat is caused by artificial pumping down of the lagoon to maintain the golf course, not sedimentation. Dredging is extremely expensive, damaging to endangered species habitat, and unnecessary; the preferred solution is to raise the lagoon water levels and allow the wetlands to expand and spread eastward where the golf course is currently located.

The working group statement cites a new pumping protocol for the lagoon, initiated due to illegal pumping and drawdown of water levels killing endangered red-legged frog egg masses after the Park Department received a notice of violation from the Fish and Wildlife Service and a notice of intent to sue by conservation groups. The statement disingenuously and falsely implies the pumping problem is solved, yet conservation groups documented dewatering by pumping this month and illegal stranding of red-legged egg masses this week, in violation of federal law.

A public briefing, titled “The Future of Sharp Park,” on the ESA-PWA report will take place March 17 at 12:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Planning Urban Research Association (SPUR), 654 Mission Street, San Francisco. Click here for more.

To read the ESA-PWA peer-reviewed scientific report, go to:

Mike Stark
Communications Director
Center for Biological Diversity
P.O. Box 710, Tucson, AZ 85702
520-623-5252 X 315 direct
520-336-7474 cell


Shop Locally & Still Beat Those Over-the-Hill Deals

Pacifica's curse and conundrum is shopping for bargains. We always talk about shopping locally and supporting our hometown merchants, but then we lower our voices and confess that we find better deals somewhere else over the hill. The debate involves both price and selection. But with a little due diligence and a leap of faith, you often can match or beat what out-of-town businesses offer. Two cases in point: If you like Trader Joe's variety and prices, try one of our locally owned grocery stores, which all sell unusual items at reasonable prices. Give them a try.

Now here's the real surprise: I always assumed that Costco had the best tire price and selection. But in a recent comparison, I found Seaview Tire and Brake in Manor can sell tires you want at a price very close to Costco's, plus a lot more friendly, free tire care and maintenance after purchase. So shop around and count not only coin but also customer service and convenience. Then repeat after me: There's no place like home!



San Francisco Chronicle: Hit and Miss

The San Francisco Chronicle can be maddening at times. The February 20 Home & Garden section wrote a clever headline ("Doody calls") on a story about manure composters and called them "kings of the dung hill." Well done. But on February 18 the newspaper ran a story about an abused pit bull that "would lie his bloody frame on the apartment balcony." Great story about a heroic Good Samaritan saving the pit bull from its abuser, but the old lie/lay error reared its ugly head in the lead paragraph.

Pacifica's Petit Prince Posts Pilot Projects


Hi, all my aviator friends!

I have a new interview with Eddie Andreini about his Super Stearman and all the modifications he's done to it:

I also have photos my dad took of his new P-51 Mustang (should be flying soon):

And a short video my dad did of it:

Also, check out this cool website with TONS of info about all kinds of planes, and all you pilot friends of mine can add to the info:


Friends of Caltrain Fight to Save Peninsula Service


Caltrain faces a severe budget crisis, due partly to our state budget mess. We have only a few days to save our Caltrain service. If short-term solutions to the crisis aren’t made viable by March 3, 2011, transit officials are likely to approve drastic cuts to the service, and the train may not be there for you anymore a few months from now. CLICK HERE for more information and to get involved.

For information about Caltrain schedules and fares, call 1.800.660.4287 (TTY 650.508.6448) or visit For Pacificans and other coastsiders, Caltrain is a pleasant alternative to BART. San Bruno Caltrain station has free and easy street parking or a paid parking lot. Then it is a single-zone round-trip (buy the Day Pass) to the city, all on surface rail, with interesting views of the bay and the industrial underbelly of the Peninsula. Unlike BART, Caltrain does not smell bad and it has a real train whistle, not that pathetic BART beep. And Caltrain goes right to AT&T Park, home of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

WiFi Coming Soon to Amtrak's Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin Passenger Trains


Wireless Network: The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) received a second allocation from the California Transportation Commission (CTC) at its January 2011 meeting.The funding, $3.75 million reinvested from cost savings from the Emeryville Track Project, will provide dollars needed to install a wireless network for the Northern California intercity passenger rail fleet assigned to the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin trains. The outcome from this investment includes: passenger Internet access, improved wireless communications to achieve e-Ticketing, credit card purchase authorization, and a backbone for transmitting on-board passenger information systems and security camera surveillance feeds. After a period of design and testing, the installation will begin in spring 2011, with expected completion for the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin IPR services by December 2011. (Source: Train Riders of California)