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May 2011

April 2011

Lucky Town

Few if any towns of Pacifica’s size have the great good fortune to read not only a community newspaper but also three websites where citizens can go online to find local content and post their own comments. As the longtime Pacifica Tribune columnist (12 years and counting), I took the plunge five years ago and started this site, mainly to celebrate the victory of the open-space forces (No on L) over Peebles Park, my pet name for developer Don Peebles’ housing “proposal” for Rockaway Quarry. Over time, Riptide has evolved into a broader domain, covering everything from politics and government to music, food, and sports. We even have cute critter photos, book reviews, and endless arguments over every issue in town.

One outgrowth of those arguments was a friendly disagreement, which ended in my challenging Steve Sinai to a blog duel. I basically suggested that he ought to have his own blog. Steve, being up to the task, and with help from Kathy Meeh and others, started Fix Pacifica. Steve and Kathy have had their own problems with controlling the trolls and herding the wild cats on their site, but now they have established a more-or-less smooth-running operation.

Finally, just this past year, along came AOL (now Huffington Post) with its Pacifica Patch, run by young recruit Camden Swita from Seattle. Camden has quickly sussed out the local political scene and is ambitiously expanding Patch’s coverage of education and other coastside beats.

Meanwhile, I continue to work closely with my friends at the Pacifica Tribune (Elaine Larsen, Jane Northrop, Victoria Monroe, and Jean Bartlett). We have a non-compete agreement of sorts. The Tribune publishes my weekly column to keep my print readers informed of the news and noise from the blogosphere. But I urge all Pacificans to buy or subscribe to their hometown newspaper (including its own website and Facebook page), because in this ruthless economy, the rule is harsh: Use it or lose it.


Adventure Out Seeks Surfing Instructors

Do you love the ocean? Are you a skilled surfer with a passion to share your knowledge and experience? We are looking for instructors to teach surfing in the Bay Area for Adventure Out ( Adventure Out is Northern California's leader in outdoor adventure, to read more about the programs, check out

At Adventure Out, we pride ourselves on teaching surfing SAFELY AND RESPONSIBLY. We keep low student-to-instructor ratios and try to teach surfing culture along with ettiquite so that we are putting responsible, aware people in the water.

Furthermore, our clients tend to be working professionals in the Bay Area. Instructors need to be professional in nature and able to teach and work with people of all walks of life. We have a top-notch, well-organized program here and need independent and responsible individuals to join our team. If you're looking for a job that will let you "hang out on the beach all day", this is not it. We work hard and play hard and require respect for the job.

If you can hang-10 with these ethics, than give us a shout! Contact:

-First Aid and CPR certifications (EMT, paramedic, or lifeguarding a plus)
-Minimum 5 years experience as a surfer (10 years preferred)
-Teaching Experience a HUGE plus

Please send resume and cover letter (photo a plus as well!) Details provided upon receipt of application - pay is commensurate with experience and is well above average for the outdoor guide/instructor industry. All applications will be reviewed and will receive a response within 14 days. Contact:

This is a part-time job.
This is at a non-profit organization.
Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
Please, no phone calls about this job!
Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.
PostingID: 2286389656 craigslist

Pacifica Patch Launches New Blogging Platform

Pacifica Patch is launching a blogging platform on May 4—strong community voices are needed. The blog will be more free-wheeling than the Pacifica Patch homepage, and although I will have the final say on what is posted, for the most part anything that is legal, goes. I want the bloggers to own their blogs. Pacifica Patch will not own the blog content, meaning you can repost stuff on other sites. Bloggers will be unpaid. If you are passionate about anything in Pacifica, whether it's education, fishing, government, shopping or pets (literally, anything), and if you are a prolific writer and have a strong voice, then you should write for Pacifica Patch's new blog. If interested, email


U.K. Surfers, Kayakers, Sailors, Divers, and Swimmers Clean Up Beaches and Coastal Waters

The United Kingdom has 11,477 miles of coastline, consisting of many natural features, from beaches to bays, islands, and peninsulas. In this country made up of islands, no one is ever more than 70 miles from the coast, which is in regular recreational use by surfers, kayakers, sailors, divers, and swimmers. These enthusiasts wish to enjoy the waters and beaches in an unspoiled state, but over the years many parts of the U.K. coast have been polluted by sewage, toxic waste, and rubbish. Global warming also poses many threats. The following efforts in coastal conservation are in progress to protect the U.K. coast:

Marine Conservation Society (MSC) is a U.K. charity that "champions the need for marine wildlife protection, sustainable fisheries and clean seas and beaches." MSC volunteers help with beach litter surveys and cleanups. Many water sports enthusiasts have carried out MSC`s Coastal Challenge, sponsoring walk, kayak, swim, and dive events.

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is a U.K.-based charity that campaigns for "clean, safe recreational waters, free from sewage effluents, toxic chemicals, marine litter and nuclear waste." SAS was created by surfers fed up with sewage-infested waters. Many other recreational users, including kayakers and divers who also want clean waters, have joined SAS. SAS also fights marine litter, regularly holding beach cleanups by volunteers, including recreational users of the coast who are happy to don their MEN'S REEF FLIP-FLOPS and spend the day restoring the beaches. SAS's Sewage and Sickness campaign aims to prevent sewage pollution of recreational waters, including "brown spots" like Brighton and Guernsey.

Opinion: Download Sewer Tax Protest Form Here


By now most Pacifica property owners have received official notice of a new sewer rate increase from the city. It's another increase at a bad time for most homeowners, as the plethora of assessments/fees/taxes/rate increases demanded of them continues unabated. In an article for Pacifica Riptide last year, I detailed how poorly written last year's notice was for property owners protesting the increase or even understanding the notice:


This year's notice features a further deterioration of public information: "Instructions on filing a written protest can be found on the City website or at City Hall" is nowhere to be found on the notice. So if one were clairvoyant, one might know that the city website has the staff report on the proposed sewer rate increase and that one could scroll to page 8 to find relevant rules for protesting. Fortunately, there is an easier way this year if you wish to protest. Pacifica Riptide has a protest form that this writer composed after carefully reviewing page 8. Just download, print out, and send it in:


Sick and tired of being squeezed like a turnip? Want to show the city what you think about the sewer rate hike coming up? Here's a form to fill out and send in if you wish to protest. Share this with friends and family who may not be computer-savvy. Print them out for wider distribution, and have fun, boys and girls!


Earth Day Success: Pacifica Cleans Up

Earth Day 2011

Kudos to Pacifica Beach Coalition and all Pacificans who came out to celebrate Earth Day by cleaning up the town, including beaches, parks, trails, and streets. Erik Piro (above) removed an old tire from Linda Mar state beach. There is still plenty of trash to pick up, especially on the beaches (plastic straws, cans, bottles, cigarette butts, etc.), so please join ongoing efforts to preserve our natural resources:


Pacifican James Dickson Pleads Guilty to Felony: Selling Stuffed Endangered Animals on Craigslist

A Pacifica man has pleaded guilty in federal court to selling taxidermy mounts of a Siberian tiger, polar bear, a bald eagle and other endangered animals on Craigslist. James Dickson, 57, entered the plea Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to a felony count of illegal trade of protected wildlife. He could face up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced July 12 by Judge William Alsup.

Dickson admitted that he sold a mounted American bald eagle to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service undercover agent for $2,200 in cash in November 2009. The sale came a month after the agent contacted Dickson, inquiring about a Craigslist ad Dickson had placed offering a stuffed polar bear for $6,500.

"When asked about purchasing the polar bear, Mr. Dickson explained that it was illegal to have a polar bear in the United States," federal prosecutors said. "At the time, Mr. Dickson also tried to sell the agent a black bear mount and further explained that it was also illegal to sell the black bear and he could go to jail for doing so."

Dickson also admitted to selling or offering numerous other protected big game animals on Craigslist, including taxidermy mounts of a Kodiak bear for $14,000, a Siberian tiger for $15,000, a black bear for $3,800, the summer coat of a grizzly bear for $4,500, the shoulder mount of a grizzly bear for $2,500, a cheetah rug for $900 and a stuffed black panther for $4,500.


California Penal Code § 689, Requisites for Conviction
No person can be convicted of a public offense unless by verdict of a jury, accepted and recorded by the court, by a finding of the court in a case where a jury has been waived, or by a plea of guilty.

Tax Relief for Peninsula Commuters

Caltrain, SamTrans, BART, and other public transit carriers can ease your tax burden. Employees and employers can take advantage of tax savings that are available through a federal pretax commuter benefits program. Federal legislation signed by President Obama in 2009, and extended until the end of this calendar year, nearly doubled the allowable pretax commuter benefit amount from $120 to $230 per month. Up to $230 is allowed for parking expenses, as well. The hitch is that employers must participate.
What’s more, The Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance is offering financial and other aid to San Mateo County employers interested in setting up a commuter benefits program through its Commuter Benefit Employer Incentive Program. This program provides assistance and cash awards from $75 to $1,000 to defray some of the initial employer program startup costs. The amount of the cash award depends on the size of the company and the level of transit or vanpool participation in pretax commuter benefit programs.
The benefit to pay for transit passes works one of three ways so that employers have more flexibility: (1)
Employers give their workers up to $230 for transit as a tax-free benefit. (2) Employers give employees the option to use payroll deductions to avoid paying taxes on up to $230 a month in commuting costs. (3) Employers and employees share the costs of the benefits. Employees also do not pay federal income or payroll taxes on commuter transit benefits, except on the amount, if any, in excess of $230 per month. This more than covers the cost of any SamTrans Monthly Pass ($165 being the most expensive) and can cover a four-zone Caltrain Monthly pass, which costs $225.25.

For information, call 650-588-8170 or e-mail or visit Alliance staff also will provide free consultation to companies considering starting a program.