Previous month:
August 2014
Next month:
October 2014

September 2014

Fog Fest Plastic Tie-Wraps Littered Palmetto, Polluted Waterways

By Randall Nelson, Special to Riptide

I'm a longtime resident of Pacifica. Fog Fest 2014 was awesome, but I feel like I have a (sober) post-hangover. Two days after Fog Fest, plastic tie-wraps still litter Palmetto Street -- dropped on the ground by tent crews closing down on Sunday night.

I watched late Sunday evening as bipedal street cleaners tried to sweep up in the dark (without headlamps), and then on Monday the gas-fueled street sweepers were out in full force, but not to be seen on Palmetto.

At this point, about a third of the thousands of plastic tie-wraps are being broken up (some carried away by car tires) and finding their way into our storm drains and down to the ocean.

I noted this today, and wanted to recognize North Coast County Water District employee Matt, who said he would put in a call to city services. I'm simply seeking a sustainable and prosperous Pacifica!

Pacifica Sanchez Library Grows Potatoes for Resource Center

Potato harvest from Pacifica Sanchez Library Garden
By Library Assistant Chris Vance

At Pacifica Sanchez Library Garden, we dedicated two raised beds to potatoes this past growing season. See link below showing that potatoes can be part of a balanced diet. We harvested 77 pounds of potatoes (above) and donated them to Pacifica Resource Center). Our dedicated volunteer David Reuttiger (below) is our Master Gardener. 
Nutritious Spuds

  Dave Reuttiger - Master Volunteer (2)

Dave Reuttiger - Master Volunteer

Governor Brown Signs Bill Creating Sea-Level Rise Database Reporting

(From Coastal News Today, September 28, 2014)

By Brendan P. Bartholomew, SF Examiner

State and local agencies responding to an anticipated rise in sea levels in California will be required to submit monthly reports to a public database under a new bill that has become law.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed Assembly Bill 2516 as he prepared to address the United Nations Climate Summit in New York.

Authored by Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, the bill establishes a statewide online database focusing on sea-level rise planning that will be overseen by the California Natural Resources Agency. The database, which is believed to be the first of its kind, is intended to serve as a resource for cities and counties across the state to utilize data collected by other communities and share methods for how to adequately prepare for rising sea levels.

"California has produced an abundance of sea-level rise planning information, but lacks a consolidated location for this information," Gordon said. "AB 2516 creates an accessible, centrally located tool for local and state governments to share information and coordinate their efforts, allowing us to be far more efficient in our work to address the growing threat of sea-level rise."

The legislation was initiated as a result of work conducted by the Select Committee on Sea Level Rise and the California Economy, which Gordon chairs. After receiving testimony from scientists and stakeholders at a series of hearings, the committee issued a comprehensive report, which urges Californians to prepare for the seas to rise by an average of 3 feet during this century.

The report additionally cited that California is "woefully unprepared" for the challenge of accelerating sea-level rise and could potentially lose billions of dollars in revenue due to related impacts.

"Sea-level rise is already happening," Gordon warned. "This legislation enables California to become a national model for sea-level rise planning and continue to lead the country in addressing climate change."

According to Gordon, information such as studies, modeling, inundation maps and cost-benefit analyses will now be readily available for communities through the new database.

The legislation is set to take effect January 1.

Opinion: Widening Won't Work

By John Keener, Special to Riptide

As you probably know, I'm running for one of three seats on Pacifica City Council in November. I've made opposition to the widening of Highway 1 the centerpiece of my campaign. The 1.3-mile Caltrans project from Rockaway to just north of Vallemar would add an additional lane in each direction to the existing four-lane highway. 

In doing so, Highway 1 would become wider than an eight-lane freeway, like I-280 through Millbrae. Funded mostly by San Mateo County Measure A funds derived from a half-cent surcharge on sales tax within the county, the current price tag is estimated at $55 million.  

I am opposed because the widening project won't work to reduce traffic congestion during peak commute hours, and it would make commuting a nightmare during construction. At either end of the project, three lanes would merge down to the original two lanes in each direction, causing bottlenecks and mini-traffic jams.  Other Caltrans widening projects have resulted in similar problems, notably in Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties. 

To me, the Caltrans widening plan is a waste of taxpayer money. Once it is defeated, we could ask for funds for projects we really need, like alternatives to the widening of Highway 1, and repairing our poorly maintained city streets.

During my precinct walking and knocking on doors, I've heard from many folks that they distrust city government. Some don't seem surprised that $4 million in city money is unaccounted for. Others wonder what I intend to do about it. In addition to the audit that the city manager is initiating, I would hold budget forums in plain English, so that we all know where the city's money is coming from, and where it is going.

The city will probably be about $2.5 million to $3.5 million short of balancing next year's budget. This is a problem distinct from the missing $4 million. How can we make up this shortfall?

New or expanded businesses are often touted as the way to save Pacifica's city finances. But sales taxes are only about 3 percent of our total tax revenue. So, while I welcome new or increased business, especially ones that save our residents trips "over the hill," the sales taxes they collect are not a large part of the budget.

I don't expect any new tax measures to pass, based on the fact that the past three such measures were handily defeated by the voters. So the city most likely will have to reduce spending to balance the budget next year. 

The public must be involved in decisions about how to get city finances under control, hence the budget forums. Whatever the final result, it is important that the process be an open one, with citizen participation. If you agree, then vote for me, John Keener, in November.

Keener for Council

Harmony @ One: Multimillion-Dollar Homes at Fassler & Roberts

How Does This Help Pacifica?

Pie in the Sky Aug. 30 #9
Bob Pilgrim photo

According to Canadian developer Sonora Shores* (say what?), Pacifica's scruffy surfer overlook Roberts Road (between Fassler and Crespi) is to become home to something mysteriously branded as Harmony Estates. How's that grab ya?

*Note to the geographically challenged: Sonora is 145 miles east of Pacifica and not on the shores of any body of water that we know of.

Eyewitness: Vallemar School Parents Abuse Crosswalk Button to Jump the Line

Regarding your “Forget Widening, Sync Traffic Lights” post, I agree that the traffic signal at Reina del Mar is the major problem for the traffic buildup on northbound Highway 1 in the morning. A friend and I like to walk the beach trail from Linda Mar to Vallemar, and every day we see the same thing: parents driving south on Highway 1 to take their children to Vallemar School. 

Instead of waiting in the left-turn lane at Reina del Mar, many turn right into the quarry, make a U-turn to head east, put the car in park, get out of the car and push the button on the traffic signal intended for pedestrians wanting to cross the highway. 

Then these parents get back in the car, knowing that the light will be extra long, giving them and the cars behind them plenty of time to cross the highway. This action lengthens the signal for northbound cars, thus causing an even bigger backup on northbound Highway 1.

One day we even saw a father in a two-door car stop, climb into the backseat to release two children from their car seats. His two children ran to the signal and pushed the button, ran back to the car, and he re-buckled their car seats and waited for the signal to change. We have seen other cars stop and send older children over to push the button. I don't think widening the highway is the answer if there still is a signal at Vallemar. 

The bridge replacement on Highway 1 at Linda Mar also is causing major traffic jams and delays. What sort of traffic problems will the highway widening project cause and for how long? Two years? Three years? A more reasonable answer would be to build a frontage road for emergency vehicles on the west side of Highway 1. The old KFC/Boston Bill’s building is empty and Lovey's Tea Shop knew of the future road project when the building was leased.

Fortunately for me, I have no need to be on Highway 1 in the morning, but I feel for the drivers who drive this route every morning. Most of the traffic is caused by parents or students driving to school. Everyone knows that when school is not in session, there is no traffic problem. During winter and spring breaks and summer vacation, traffic is practically nonexistent.

Eleanor Schulze

Jim Vreeland Memorial Service & Education Fund

Vreeland memorial
On September 21, a huge crowd attended the Jim Vreeland memorial and paddle-out. Many spoke passionately, not only of Jim's contributions to the city, especially the renovated beach that was his sanctuary, but also of his warmth and generosity as a human being. There was laughter and stories were shared, and by the end, nary a dry eye was to be seen. As his wife Lauri put it, "Jim couldn't have asked for a better send-off!" And our community couldn't have asked for a better citizen. Thanks, Jim, thanks for everything.

Ian Butler

Pacificans are mourning the loss of former City Council member Jim Vreeland, who served 15 years on the council and is remembered for his work to protect the city's natural environment and outdoors recreation, especially the beaches and trails. Jim always took the high road, and I believe his spirit lives on in Pacifica. Please click the Comments link below this post to submit your memories of Jim for our archives.

John Maybury

As promised at the memorial service, here is a link for the memorial fund for Jim's family. Lauri will use the money for the boys' education. James is 13 and Scott is only 8, so we want to raise as much as we can. We are doing the fundraising online because of the ease in tracking the money and getting it to Lauri, but also the ease in donating. Here is the link: 

Vreeland Memorial Fund

Thanks so much for attending the memorial service. I know that Lauri really appreciated the turnout. Lauri has a rough road ahead, but I hope we raise enough to make it a little easier. Thanks in advance for anything you can contribute. And please share this with others!

Mary Ann Nihart

Sue Digre: Highway Report @ Coastside Democrats

Mail Attachment
Pacifica City Council member Sue Digre was the surprise guest at the recent Coastside Democrats Fall Campaign Kickoff Party in Half Moon Bay.

Digre fielded questions about Highway 1. People asked about traffic at Pedro Point Bridge. When will this project be done?! It takes a lot more time to get through Pacifica because of the construction of a bridge at Pedro Point. Digre said the bridge project is a seismic update that will also raise the bridge so it is less likely to be destroyed by a "100-year" flood. Target completion date for the bridge is October 2015; related habitat restoration at the bridge should finish in 2016.

People also wondered about the proposed Caltrans highway widening. The proposed project is controversial, and most public comment weighs in against it. Digre has done research and discovered that new traffic congestion solutions are more efficient, more immediate, less costly, and not destructive to the economy or environment. The City Council has put off public discussion on the proposed widening of Highway 1 and has not had a city-sponsored public forum yet.

Other items of interest: Dave Pine, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, spoke on sea level rise. The San Mateo County coast is the most rapidly eroding shoreline in the country, and as a result, coastal projects must include assumption of a minimum of a three-foot rise in sea level, caused mainly by melting of Greenland's ice sheets.

Rob Caughlan, founding president of Surfrider Foundation, and Ed Larenas, chair of the San Mateo County Chapter of Surfrider Foundation, gave the latest news on the Martins Beach controversy. If the stone wall on the property is left to stand, the beach could be washed away. Learn more here:

Nicole David, County of San Mateo Harbor Commission candidate, spoke about the need for more transparency on the harbor commission. She and "Captain Tom" Mattusch are running on a reform platform to clean up the harbor commission.