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October 2014

Pilot Projects: Evan Takes to the Air Again

Happy fall, all my aviation friends! This year's flying was great. I'm really enjoying working at San Carlos Flight Center. I've been way too busy with schoolwork and running on my school's cross-country team to do much else, but the season ends soon.

After that, I'll be concentrating on applying for flight scholarships because I want to start my PPL this spring! To help pay for my future flying, my dad wants to sell our Camaro. Here's a little video: Camaro

So if you or a friend is looking for a cool car, let us know! Speaking of videos, check out this one about my fellow pilot Jessica Cox or this one.

My dad and I went to a prescreening of the movie they're making about Jessica, which was great because my friend Nick T. Spark the director was there, and they need help to finish it. I think it's a really important story about Jessica and it needs to be shared with the world. Go to Right-Footed Movie and donate. I am! 

Nick did the documentary about Pancho Barnes. You can read my review here. It's a great movie, and the one he's finishing on Jessica Cox will be really great, too! I hope you all have a great fall and winter. Watch the skies. I'll be flying soon!


Sierra Club Endorses Nicole David for San Mateo County Harbor District

The Sierra Club endorses Nicole David for a four-year term as commissioner of the San Mateo County Harbor District.

"As a marine biologist with 15 years of experience at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, Nicole brings a much-needed perspective and expertise to an organization that must frequently collaborate with resource agencies such as California Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), California Coastal Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), and California Coastal Conservancy, to name just a few. Nicole also has served as president of the local Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry," says the Sierra Club press release announcing the endorsement.

"We believe that the Harbor District will be greatly aided by having a Commissioner who is so well versed on such important stewardship issues. We are also heartened by her expressions of support for the local fishermen who are a vital constituency of the District and by her awareness of the need to lead the District out of its chronic budget deficits. Best environmental practices require that the district be on a sound financial footing to adequately perform those practices," the press release adds.

Pacifica Riptide's City Council Endorsements

Riptide lookout
In the November 4 election, three council seats were up for grabs, with two incumbents (Mike O'Neill, Sue Digre) and five challengers (John Keener, Matt Dougherty, Victor Spano, Eric Ruchames, and Therese Dyer) in the race. Councilman Len Stone did not run for re-election.

In our opinion, the most important issues in Pacifica are Highway 1 widening and broken city finances. If you have been paying attention (Pacifica Riptide, Pacifica Index, candidate forums, and Jane Northrop's coverage in the Pacifica Tribune), only John Keener, Sue Digre, and Matt Dougherty clearly opposed widening Highway 1 and favored fixing city finances.

Congratulations to John and Sue on their clear victories. Though Matt's bid for office was unsuccessful, we hope to hear more from him in the future.

As to the other candidates: Victor Spano focused on traffic issues in northern Pacifica (Skyline and Fairmont). Mainstream political heavyweights endorsed Eric Ruchames, but we did not know where he stood on key issues. Mike O'Neill and Therese Dyer favored highway widening, but only O'Neill won.

Please click the Comments link below this post and join the conversation. If this is your first time on Riptide, click the About link on our right sidebar to see our Terms of Service.

John Maybury, Editor and Publisher

City Council Race: PH1A Endorses Keener, Digre & Dougherty

Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives (PH1A) endorses John Keener, Sue Digre, and Matt Dougherty for Pacifica City Council, based on their responses to PH1A'S questionnaire on the proposed Caltrans highway-widening project.

All three candidates expressed clear opposition to the current proposal to more than double the width of a 1.3-mile segment of Highway 1. All three candidates have shown that they support the city applying for grants to have independent professionals evaluate alternatives to improve traffic flow, enhance safety, protect our environment, and beautify our town.

In PH1A'S outreach to thousands of Pacifica residents during the past two years -- public forums with large turnouts, petitions to City Council, tables at FogFest and throughout town -- it has found that an overwhelming majority of people it has spoken with support its position.

Caltrans has already certified its own Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the project. The San Mateo County Transportation Authority (SMCTA) has programmed funds for the final design.

Pacifica City Council could formally request that SMCTA allocate those funds. Then the final design would be done and the project would move forward. Caltrans finalized the EIR for this project with very little input from the City Council. Now all council can do is either accept or reject the Caltrans widening plan.

Opinion: Widening Highway 1 Won't Work

By Nancy Hall, Special to Riptide

I was born in Pacifica and have lived here all my life. As a lover of the natural world, I have pitted myself over the years against any development that would not add to but only take away from the quality of life here on the coast.

Now we face what a growing number of Pacificans realize is the WORST AND STUPIDEST IDEA: widening Highway 1 between Rockaway and Vallemar. If you think the traffic mess at the Pedro Point bridge project has been rough, just wait. This massive construction project between two major stoplights at the center of town would go on for two years at the very least, and judging by how far off-schedule Caltrans has been on other projects (Devil's Slide Tunnels, Bay Bridge), it likely would be MUCH longer.

Thanks to Caltrans shutting out public commentary and railroading the review process, this mess is about to happen, something most coastsiders do not realize. And for what? Imagine, if you will, a section of 280, a freeway more than twice the width of Highway 1, bordered by 14-foot-high concrete walls—a freeway that encourages drivers to bypass local businesses and jockey for position as the lanes squeeze back down into the existing road.

Why is Caltrans so eager to transform Highway 1 into a freeway with bottlenecks at both ends? Is it so that demand for another section, and then another, would follow? NOTHING in this plan would improve commuter traffic! Even traffic consultants working with would-be quarry developer Don Peebles said this approach was expensive and useless.

Don't take my word for it. These pork barrel projects have been happening everywhere. Let's not make the same mistake! This article spells it out better than I can. Check out "Building Bigger Roads Actually Makes Traffic Worse":

Bigger Is Not Better

Without support for transparency and a fair process in our own city government, this may be a done deal. A new City Council seems to be our only remaining recourse. Keener, Digre, and Dougherty are the candidates who have the backbone to say, "This makes no sense. It's WRONG for Highway 1." Without their votes and voices on council, this may be a done deal.

Alternatives that could actually address congestion have not been fully examined. Please contact Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives PH1A or on Facebook. Heads up, Pacifica. We are being railroaded, in the true meaning of the word.

City Council Candidate Victor Spano Threatens Lawsuit Over Pacifica Tribune Letter to the Editor

By Ian Butler, Riptide Correspondent

Audio Recording

I just learned that City Council candidate Victor Spano left a message on BJ Nathanson's voicemail (above) threatening to sue her for slander for her letter to the editor in the October 22 Pacifica Tribune. This is highly inappropriate. You can't run for office and threaten to sue anyone who criticizes you. A lively, open debate on the candidates is the foundation of the democratic process. Here is BJ's letter; see if you can spot the slanderous part (hint: there isn't one):

Editor: Victor Spano's slogan is "Fix Pacifica." It's on his signs and his website. He was even handing out water bottles that said "Fix Pacifica" on them at the Fog Fest. For those unfamiliar with it, Fix Pacifica is a local blog that for years has spewed hateful attacks on anyone with whom they disagree, and no one has been a victim of those attacks more than the late Jim Vreeland. In the week after Jim passed away, while the rest of us were paying our respects, Fix Pacifica was posting dozens of inappropriately negative comments, denigrating Jim's name and legacy. Blog moderator Kathy Meeh not only allowed the comments to be posted, she herself made some of the worst ones, and then censored most of the comments that dared to call for restraint and civility. (In a tortuous twist of absurdity, she censored comments that rightly accused her of censoring comments, while allowing comments that accused rival blog Pacifica Riptide of censoring comments.) This is the same Kathy Meeh who is the second endorser listed on Victor Spano's website. It is one thing to be endorsed BY Fix Pacifica, but Victor's campaign appears to be an endorsement OF Fix Pacifica. He will not be getting my vote."

(BJ Nathanson, former Pacifica Planning Commissioner and Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commissioner)

Opinion: FixPacifica Shows Its True Colors

By Ian Butler, Riptide Correspondent
With an important election coming up, and one candidate even adopting "Fix Pacifica" as his motto, some citizens who had written off the FixPacifica blog as too negative may be tempted to give it a second chance. Recent developments would suggest otherwise.
Over the years, no one has been treated more harshly on the site than Jim Vreeland, so when news broke of Jim’s passing, I checked FixPacifica to see if it was capable of showing respect for the departed. On the first day, things looked promising, with a total of nine comments, all perfectly appropriate, but on the second day things went off the rails. Not only were there several anonymous comments attacking Jim, but FixPacifica moderator Kathy Meeh joined in the attacks.
That’s bad enough, but then she went a step further and began deleting comments that asked for restraint (or as she put it, sent to "spam jail"). Then she began deleting comments that accused her of deleting comments, all the while insisting that all of the deleted comments were so over the top that they simply had to be deleted.
I had a hard time believing that the deleted comments could possibly be more offensive than the ones that were allowed, so I asked FixPacifica blogmaster Steve Sinai to make them public. To his credit, he allowed them to be posted, and they reveal a rare glimpse behind the curtain of FixPacifica.
In all, 16 comments were deleted, none that could be considered inappropriate in any way. The only reason they could possibly have been deleted was because Kathy disagreed with them. And this is a site that says at the top of the home page: “Unlike some other Pacifica blogs, FixPacifica won’t bury viewpoints that we disagree with.”

That is an obvious reference to Pacifica Riptide, probably because editor and publisher John Maybury has the decency not to publish the very type of negative attack that was promoted on FixPacifica.
The role of a moderator is to “moderate” the discussion, that is, to rein in the most extreme factions and keep the discussion civil. When the moderator is making the most inflammatory comments, while censoring calls for restraint, a civilized discussion is impossible. (To date, Kathy has not apologized for anything she has said or deleted.)

Therefore, I urge caution when visiting FixPacifica, and if you submit any comments that Kathy might disagree with, keep a copy, and if it’s deleted, send it to blogmaster Steve Sinai (, who can be reasonable, and to me (, just in case. The full thread is here:

FixPacifica on Vreeland

But be warned: It is a rather unpleasant read. My apologies to the Vreeland family for extending this unfortunate discussion, but I believe that allowing such attacks to go unchecked would tarnish his legacy.

City Council Candidate John Keener: No Highway Widening

I'm John Keener, Ph.D., research biochemist, small-business owner, and medical writer, now retired. My wife and I have lived in Pacifica for seven years. We were attracted to Pacifica by its many hiking trails, open spaces, and beautiful coastline.

I've made the Highway 1 widening plan the centerpiece of my campaign for Pacifica City Council. The 1.3-mile Caltrans project from the Fassler/Rockaway intersection to just north of the Vallemar intersection would add an additional lane in each direction to the existing four-lane highway.

In doing so, the proposed project would more than double the width of the roadway, from 64 feet to 144 feet, 12 feet wider than a typical eight-lane interstate freeway. Caltrans must acquire all or part of 27 parcels, including residential and business, to accommodate the increased highway footprint. Mature cypress trees lining the existing highway would be removed, and retaining walls up to 22 feet tall would be needed to stabilize cuts into hillsides.

I oppose the widening project because it wouldn't work to reduce traffic congestion during peak commute hours. This is because, at either end of the project, three lanes would merge back to the original two lanes in each direction, causing traffic jams. Other Caltrans widening projects have resulted in similar problems, notably in Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties.

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 of the Highway 1 widening proposal is estimated at $55 million. I question the use of taxpayer funds without adequate public input. Comments on the Environmental Impact Reports for the widening project that were inconsistent with Caltrans’ vision were rejected.

Caltrans approved its Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) in August 2013. At this point, the decision on widening Highway 1 is a yes or no vote — no modifications are permitted to Caltrans' plan without starting over.

The major hurdle before construction could begin is a formal request by Pacifica City Council to the San Mateo County Transportation Authority for the $55 million needed to fund the project. I think such a request is a waste of taxpayer money on a design that won't alleviate congestion and is out of scale with community needs.

So I oppose funding the Caltrans plan. Instead, I support opening the process to the public and exploring alternative solutions that would effectively reduce traffic congestion on the Highway 1 corridor.

I'm running for one of three open seats on Pacifica City Council in November. More information about my positions on the highway widening and other issues may be found on my campaign website:

 Keener for Council