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June 2014

Live Seminar on Energy in California, September 15-16

Energy In California, September 15-16, San Francisco (Marriott Union Square Hotel)

Law Seminars International is pleased to announce this year's 16th annual "Energy in California" conference. The program explores a number of cutting-edge areas and brings both practical advice and up-to-date information on recent developments in emerging areas such as energy storage and integrating renewable resources through capacity markets.

Conference participants will hear from seasoned practitioners and senior agency staff and will receive the latest information on developments at the California Public Utilities Commission and California Air Resources Board.
The conference will also explore new trends in distributed generation and micro-grids. You will hear about climate change and California's water supply planning and learn about potential impacts on hydropower generation.
We are excited about the diverse array of excellent speakers and anticipate a lively and engaging discussion. We hope you will join us. Live webcasting will be available for this program.
H. Kate Johnson

Call us at (206) 567-4490.

Intended Audience
Attorneys, industry executives, economists, consultants, and governmental officials involved with energy project development

Program Chairs
Howard V. Golub, Esq. of Nixon Peabody LLP    
Anne E. Mudge, Esq. of Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP

Available Credits
Live credits: Law Seminars International is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider. This program qualifies for 11.75 California MCLE credits. Upon request, we will apply for, or help you apply for, CLE credits in other states and other types of credits.

Sea Level Rise: San Mateo County Coastside & Bayshore

By Samantha Weigel, Daily Journal

Projections that portions of San Mateo County could one day be submersed in three feet of water is prompting federal, state, and local policymakers to join in planning for the future of sea level rise.

San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine, Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park), and Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) continue to host a series of workshops on sea level rise for elected officials, city managers, city planners, and public works directors.

“San Mateo County is one of the most vulnerable counties in the state because we not only have a coastal zone, but we have a highly developed bay zone, both subject to sea level rise,” Gordon said. “It’s a very slow-moving crisis and sea level will continue to rise over the next decade, and we have an opportunity to plan and prepare so that we’re not in a reactive mode.”

Gordon said he proposed and has chaired the Assembly’s Select Committee on Sea Level Rise, which has evaluated at-risk areas that could suffer severe consequences.

“We’ve learned that there are a lot of different sections at risk around the state; everything from the Air Force (base) to wastewater treatment facilities, we’ve learned there’s a threat to coastal agriculture from saltwater intrusion. … So there’s a whole variety of issues that we’re going to need to pay attention to,” Gordon said.

Many scientists agree that the sea will rise at least three feet by 2100 and it’s critical that cities and governments begin to plan with it in mind, Pine said.

The conference series provides a platform for officials who lead in creating land use policies to share ideas, resources, and information. Attendees are asked to help make decisions on three key concepts.

The first will be to decide if San Mateo County should adopt a cohesive planning concept that assumes the 3 feet of sea level rise prediction, Pine said. Officials will also discuss preparing a countywide sea level rise vulnerability assessment and the third issue will to consider how to fund adaptations, Pine said.

The county’s bayfront is lined with developments such as residential communities and high-tech companies that are at direct risk of being affected by sea level rise. Gordon and Pine said cities and special districts must work together and create a comprehensive planning scheme to effect meaningful change.

“We need to understand that there’s some places where we should not develop. We need to understand there’s other places where we have to protect existing developments and, at the end of the day, there’s going to be costs related to protecting what’s in place and adapting in some way. So we’re going to need to figure out how we pay for these things over time,” Gordon said.

An important part of the discussion will involve evaluating which parts of the county face the most imminent danger from extreme storm events like king tides, Pine said.

Pine said he became increasingly concerned after speaking with an official from Genentech who noted if the South San Francisco pump station near its campus was to flood, it would shut down the entire facility and its operations.

Gordon noted “in our immediate area, probably the greatest economic risk would be if San Francisco International Airport was to not be able to function and at this point, it’s pretty difficult to move the airport.”

Some ideas Gordon said they’ve generated in the Assembly committee that he hopes will evolve are armoring certain zones with special sea walls, adding levees and restoring marshes.

Pine said another intent of the conferences is to create standing working groups or a joint powers board. One group would oversee the preparation of a countywide sea level rise vulnerability assessment and the other to consider funding options for addressing necessary plans.

Pine said he would like to consider creating financing or assessment districts and cited Santa Clara County’s related district as a possible model. Bringing together those who create county land use policies and are at the front lines of preparing for climate change is critical to ensure the county doesn’t become paralyzed when the seas eventually rise, Pine said.

“San Mateo County is known for having a very collaborative political environment and if there’s any place we need to collaborate, it is on the issue of sea level rise. Because it does not lend itself to a city-by-city solution,” Pine said. “So I really think that San Mateo County is the county most at risk to sea level rise in the state of California. And I think we are starting to take the initial steps to be a leader in not only California, but in the country, to addressing the challenges of sea level rise.”
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106

Grammarly: How Good Is It?

A writer/editor colleague and friend asked me for my opinion on Grammarly, which is under discussion on the Quora forum. Here is my take on it:

"As with most other spell, style, and grammar checkers, this program is only as good as the humans who input the content and coded it, which is to say that it does some good but also some harm. As an added layer of quality control, as a backup, as a second pair of eyes, it’s probably somewhat useful, especially for a non-writer or novice, but there really is no substitute for a real human editor. The main problem with all such word programs is their occasionally vague or unhelpful or downright silly suggestions. Their best calls are probably outright spelling errors and duplicated words, so it wouldn’t hurt to run those tests just in case you were sleepy or impaired when you wrote the copy."


Developer Proposes Commercial/Residential Project @ Waterford & Monterey

Applicant Javier Chavarria on behalf of Miramar Enterprises has filed a planning development application to develop a vacant parcel with a three-story mixed use development consisting of 1,752 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and five (5) residential units above the ground floor at the northwest corner of Monterey Road and Waterford Street (on the corner next to the Highway 1 northbound onramp, before the car wash).

Opinion: Defend Net Neutrality, Faster Internet

UPDATE 12/29/18

The first round of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) public-comment period on net neutrality ends July 15. The United States has the slowest Internet in the developed world. We rank behind even Estonia in Internet speed because major players in the U.S. wanted to be able to characterize the trashing of net neutrality as "the advent of a net fast lane" for the rich, rather than "the advent of a net super slow lane" for the poor and middle class, just good advertising.

The American people paid for the inception and development of the Internet. I recognize the tradition of turning over the fruits of research and development that our tax dollars paid for to for-profit corporate sociopaths, but I must say I disagree with the very idea of that longstanding practice.

This corporate power grab is not unlike "Citizens United" or the current lack of antitrust enforcement allowing corporate media and banking giants to merge into mega-giants, or allowing ALEC (a corporate lobbying group) to write our laws. Benito Mussolini said, “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

The end of net neutrality, if we allow it, would give mega-corporations freedom of speech while they take that freedom away from the rest of us. I oppose any and all transfers of wealth or sovereignty from the people to the corporations.

Please contact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and say YES TO NET NEUTRALITY. Thank you.

Mail: 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554
Phone: 1-888-225-5322
TTY: 1-888-835-5322
Fax: 1-866-418-0232
Comment Online

Dan B. Underhill

Opinion: It's Official—Mayor Nihart Phones It In

We've long suspected that Mayor Nihart doesn't care enough to be here. Now we see it's true: Mayor Nihart IS phoning it in!

June 23, 2014 City Council meeting:

"This closed session meeting will include participation of Mayor Mary Ann Nihart by teleconference located at 4370 Dickerson Road, Charlottesville, VA 22911-5805."

A lengthy closed session presumably had secure phone lines. Concerned citizens wonder how it is that the mayor can phone in to council meetings yet not have General Plan/Local Coastal Plan/DEIR meetings videotaped for the electorate!

Stay posted for video!

C.C. Ryder

Suspected Drunk Driver Critically Injures Pacifica Woman

June 23, 2014, 05:00 AM Bay City News Service:

A woman walking in Pacifica late Saturday night was struck and critically injured by a man suspected of driving under the influence, police said Sunday.

The 33-year-old Pacifica woman was crossing San Pedro Road north of the Pedro Point Shopping Center when a driver heading south along the roadway hit her, according to police. The woman was taken to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Police said officers at the scene determined that the driver, identified as 32-year-old Robert Walton of Montara, was driving under the influence at the time of the crash. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI and taken to San Mateo County Jail.

The investigation into the collision is ongoing and anyone who witnessed it is asked to call Pacifica police at 650-738-7314.

Opinion: Pedro Point Zoning Change a Backroom Deal

By John Keener, Special to Riptide

At the Pacifica General Plan Update open house the other night, I became aware of a change in land use designation that I believe calls into question the transparency of the planning process.

In question is the "Calson property" on Pedro Point, approximately five acres immediately west of Pedro Point shopping center, separated from the Pacific Ocean by the old Ocean Shore Railroad embankment. It is a low-lying tract subject to seasonal flooding. One would imagine the flooding will only get worse as the sea level rises.  

This property was changed from a land use of "vacant/undeveloped" in the existing Coastal Land Use Plan to "coastal residential mixed use" in the updated draft. It is the only tract with this land use designation in Pacifica. It is currently zoned "commercial," but with the new land use designation, rezoning to "residential" would be necessary to be consistent with the new Coastal Land Use Plan. Once rezoned, the "Calson property" could accommodate up to 80 houses. For comparison, there are about 230 houses in the entire Pedro Point neighborhood.

The Pedro Point Community Association has repeatedly asked throughout this process that the property retain the original use of "vacant/undeveloped" with a zoning of "commercial." This would prevent residential development. There is no mention of the community association's comments, and apparently no "paper trail"  that would tell us how and why the land use designation for this property was changed. But it is very likely that the property owner was involved in the change.

In my opinion, this change in land use designation is an example of the lack of transparency that many have complained about in city government. It taints the planning process with backroom dealing hidden from public view. The city should explain exactly what caused this change, and reverse it.

Opinion: Time for a Change @ San Mateo County Harbor District

Opinion from Fix Our Harbors:

Taxpayers are upset about questionable activities by the San Mateo County Harbor District, most recently its admission that reserve funds are used to cover operating costs—up to $2 million this fiscal year. Read more:

"Harbor district details missing checks"
The harbor district made headlines in October 2013 when some $38,000 in undeposited checks were found in an employee's desk drawer in July 2013. In some cases, boat owners who had paid rent had ended up falling in arrears, according to the district’s records. Other tenants were never charged their monthly berth fees. ..." Read the rest of the story here:

After that revelation, the harbor district made a bid to destroy records, including meeting minutes:

Fresh & Easy Survives: Same Name, Different Store?

"Fresh & Easy is back, and purportedly better than ever. The small-format grocery chain, bought out by Southern California supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, began a big reintroduction campaign this week, highlighting 'affordable organics,' 'gourmet' made-on-the-premises takeout, no artificial flavors or coloring and everything fresh as can be. Burkle's Yucaipa Cos. took 167 Fresh & Easy stores off Tesco's hands in September -- the British supermarket chain lost $1.8 billion on the venture -- and closed 40-odd stores...Despite reports to the contrary, the Fresh & Easy name survives. 'We set out to make our stores and our brand fresher, easier and more relevant to modern consumers who are looking for healthy, convenient options,' said Mike Evans, the chain's head of marketing." (business columnist Andrew S. Ross, San Francisco Chronicle, June 20)

Caltrans: Highway 1 Bridge Detour Until October 2015

California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has begun detouring Highway 1 traffic via San Pedro Avenue, south of Linda Mar Boulevard in Pacifica.

As part of the San Pedro Creek Bridge Replacement Project, this detour allows construction crews to begin work in the creek and to construct access to the creek.

Pedestrians have access along San Pedro Avenue facing Pedro Point Shopping Center. Pedestrian traffic south of Linda Mar Boulevard is no allowed east of the old bridge.  

Southbound: Traffic continues to Highway 1 by making a right turn on San Pedro Road at the intersection with Linda Mar Boulevard, and then merging back into Highway 1 southbound up the hill to Devil's Slide. 

Northbound: Traffic coming downhill from Devil’s Slide continues on San Pedro Avenue to the intersection with Highway 1 and Linda Mar Boulevard, turning left to get back onto Highway 1 northbound or going straight onto Linda Mar Boulevard. 

Changeable message signs help guide motorists through the detour. This project ends October 2015 (weather permitting). Road conditions and other info:

Caltrans Quick Map

Caltrans on Twitter

Get Caltrans Email

Highway 1 Bridge Detour; Tunnel Traffic Safety Hazards

I recently dropped by the Caltrans trailer park in Linda Mar and chatted with the man in charge of the San Pedro Creek Bridge project. His crew now has completed prep work for the Highway 1 detour via the Pedro Point frontage road, and actual traffic diversion began June 20. Expect gnarly traffic at reroute chokepoints.

The project is to raise the height of the old Highway 1 bridge over the creek to that of the newer frontage road bridge. The new Highway 1 bridge is supposed to be seismically safer and stronger than the 60-year-old span it replaces.

While I had Caltrans' ear, I suggested posting "WRONG WAY, DO NOT ENTER" signs at the Devil's Slide Tunnels north portal, where the roadway splits on a banked curve entering the Shamrock Ranch bridge to the tunnels.

Warning signs could prevent a southbound driver (especially a drunk or disoriented one on a foggy night) from accidentally entering the northbound lane and causing a horrendous crash with oncoming traffic.

If you drive south toward the tunnel entrance, you will see the split I am talking about right before you get onto the bridge. With all the crazy lane and line markings at that banked curve, you can see the visual confusion and potential for a deadly head-on collision with a wrong-way driver.

And don't get me started on the ridiculously narrow bike lanes alongside Highway 1 leading up the hill to the tunnels, which together with blind curves and excessive motorist speed can only mean that a really bad accident is just waiting to happen.

As you know if you regularly read this blog and my Wandering & Wondering column in the Pacifica Tribune, I am a huge fan of the tunnels. Always have been. But as we learn to drive the new Highway 1 configuration, we are discovering safety issues that could use a tweak or two to make Devil's Slide a safer place to drive and bike. Let's hope Caltrans and the City of Pacifica are listening before it's too late.

John Maybury, Editor & Publisher