Previous month:
October 2014
Next month:
December 2014

November 2014

The Accident: I Never Saw It Coming

Evil pumpkin
By John Maybury, Editor & Publisher

I wouldn’t wish a torn quadriceps tendon on my worst enemy. It is a scary and painful injury with a long, uncomfortable recovery. Bill Clinton survived his, so he is my role model.

On November 1, I was at the Saguaro Inn in Palm Springs to attend my nephew’s wedding. On my way downstairs in the morning to find coffee, I stumbled on the carpeted stairs and heard or felt an ominous pop in my right knee. I crumbled to the (luckily) carpeted landing, dragged myself out the door into the hallway, and called for help. Hotel maids, maintenance men, and a front-desk clerk raced to my aid. They got me into a wheelchair and back to my room.

I couldn’t raise my badly swollen right leg, so I was driven to a Kaiser-affiliated urgent-care facility nearby. X-rays were negative, but the doctor said to see an orthopedist as soon as possible. I bought a cane and a knee immobilizer for the trip home. My wonderful traveling companion had to drive, of course, and she has been at my side ever since the accident, helping me in every way.

On November 13, I underwent successful surgery. I am still in awe of the surgeon and nurses at Kaiser South San Francisco. I was totally freaked out as my 1 p.m. surgery appointment stretched into 5 p.m. due to an inpatient emergency. But once I went into the operating room, everything was stress-free and pain-free. I never felt the spinal block or the surgery, just a little tugging sensation as they sewed up my knee.

I was awake the whole time; only a towel prevented me from watching the operation (which I would have done if they had let me – don’t ask, it’s a journalistic thing). Next thing I knew, my surgeon announced, “Thirty-three minutes, no complications.” I told him and his OR staff that they were my heroes.

Then I was wheeled into recovery and finally a private room, where I spent 24 hours absorbing saline solution laced with painkillers and antibiotics. I was fascinated with the purple and blue globs of chemicals trailing down my IV line into the back of my hand.

When the spinal block wore off a few hours later, I felt a wave of pain from the surgery, but the expert nursing staff pumped me so full of Percocet, Advil, Dilaudid, Toradol, and God knows what else that, except for a few minutes of excruciating pain in my operated knee, I drifted along in a drug-addled state of bliss.

The entire Kaiser staff, including my new inpatient and in-home physical therapists, are top-notch caregivers and also delightful people to talk to, especially when you are flat on your back and have no means of escape.

So now begins the long six months of wearing a splint and a cast, rebuilding strength in the knee, and not being able to swim or bike until 2015. Stir crazy much? Realization: It could have been a lot worse.

(This account also appears in my "Wandering & Wondering" column in the November 26 Pacifica Tribune.)

Opinion: HMB's "Generally Wrong" General Plan

Trouble is brewing in Half Moon Bay over its General Plan process during recent public meetings. Many of Half Moon Bay's planning and zoning issues are similar to those being hotly debated in Pacifica. Stay tuned here for further discussions on General Plan deficiencies in both coastal communities.

Sierra Club Letter to Half Moon Bay

Letter to the Editor, Half Moon Bay Review: The General Plan Advisory Committee, hosted by the City of Half Moon Bay staff and consulting firm running the process, met two weeks ago. One didn’t have to sit through all three hours before sensing a severe disconnect between those “guiding” the process and the volunteers representing the community who perceptibly commented on the three submitted plans.

Despite the diverse interests they represent, most of the Advisory Committee members wondered what happened to their inputs from earlier meetings concerning the three key goals the plans should reflect: preservation of open space, preservation of small-town charm, and amelioration of traffic congestion. Supposedly, the three plans presented would achieve this by more parallel roads to Highway 1 through our neighborhoods, but with housing tracts filling the open space between them, and more commercial development sprinkled around outside the city’s core.

The city pays this consulting firm a lot of money, but it has not done its homework on our existing laws as reflected in the Local Coastal Program, or displayed accurate knowledge about the actual conditions on the ground. A few examples cannot do justice to the absurdity on display at the meeting. They drew roads and/or trails through private property, said it’s OK to eliminate agricultural and urban reserve zoning by fiat, and their plans ignore all the places where protected wetlands exist that already stymie development. It’s all wished away.

Half Moon Bay just concluded two elections that strongly signal citizen discontent relative to the functioning of their government. It is time for the new City Council to achieve a new consensus as to the direction the update is moving. In the meantime, the consulting firm should be paid off and dismissed. It does not know enough to conduct a competent process.

Ken King
Half Moon Bay

Dutch Bike Path Lit by LEDs & Van Gogh

In the Dutch town of Eindhoven, artist Daan Roosegaarde has paid homage to its most famous resident, Vincent Van Gogh, by creating a glowing bike path that relies on solar-powered LED lights and interprets his classic painting Starry Night.

Roosegaarde says he wants his work, illuminated by thousands of twinkling blue and green lights, to speak to everyone. "You have people who are interested in technology to make landscapes which are energy neutral," he tells NPR. "You have people interested in cultural history and experiencing it in a contemporary way. You have boys and girls who have a first date and want to take their date to a special place."

And, he adds, "You have an artist like me who wants to create something just incredibly poetic; and all that comes together. A good project generates new stories."

The path, which covers about a half-mile, opened last Wednesday as part of celebrations marking the 125th anniversary of the death of Van Gogh, who lived from 1853 to 1890. He lived in Eindhoven for a few years and used the town as a backdrop for his paintings.

As we reported last week, another Dutch town, Krommenie, installed solar panels on a bike commuter path outside Amsterdam. The power generated by the panels will be funneled into the national energy grid. (NPR)

UPDATE: Investigation Finds Consistent Errors in Pacifica Sewer Charges

By Christoffer Anthony, Special to Riptide

Pacificans should be interested to learn that the City of Pacifica appears to incorrectly calculate its annual sewer charge. I will briefly summarize the main points as I understand them.

The city calculates the annual sewer charge based on each residence’s water use. Up front, it's important to know that all Pacificans have the same six bimonthly water billing periods for any sewer charge (February-March, April-May, June-July, August-September, October-November, December-January), irrespective of when meters are read for any bill period.

At issue is whether the "two consecutive highest rainfall months" methodology used by the city is a correct restatement of the "bi-monthly water billing period of highest rainfall" as found in the Municipal Code.

According to the Municipal Code, the city must compare each residence’s total water consumption for the year to six times its water consumption in the "bi-monthly water billing period of highest rainfall". Then the lower of the two values is multiplied by the predetermined sewer rate to arrive at the sewer charge.

The main idea behind this rationale is that during the water billing period of highest rainfall, irrigation should be lower, and so water consumed should more nearly match actual sewage produced. Residents with low water consumption (and lower actual sewage produced) pay the minimum amount, or about $580 for the most recent sewer charge year.

For the most recent sewer charge shown in the figure below (Sewer Charge Methodology Errors), the city did not select the "bi-monthly water billing period of highest rainfall". Instead, it used the "two consecutive highest rainfall months" of November 13 and December 13, which totaled 1.26 inches of rain; since these two consecutive months bridge two different water billing periods (October-November & December-January), the city selected one of the two (December-January) for multiplication by 6.

But neither October-November (0.91 inches) nor December-January (0.36 inches) represent the "water billing period of highest rainfall".  According to the Municipal Code, since the "water billing period of highest rainfall" was February-March (1.16 inches), each residence’s water use in February-March should have been chosen in the calculation.

The city has not selected the correct water billing period in three of the past five years, as shown in the Five Year History at the bottom of the figure below. Rainfall totals for the city’s chosen bill periods are ranked and compared to the correct bill periods; note the years for which the city has selected the bill periods of third-highest or fourth-highest rainfall.

For the two years in which the city correctly calculated the sewer charge, note that the "two consecutive highest rainfall months" coincided with the "water billing period of highest rainfall". Pacificans whose water use was lower in the "water billing period of highest rainfall" than in either the city's chosen bill period or the annual consumption were overcharged.

To the city's credit, I have independently checked the rainfall data from the city's chosen source ( and have found no discrepancies. Municipal Code references may be found in Sections 6-6.407(a) and (b), and I urge Pacificans to read them (; see Title 6).

I will gladly discuss this issue in greater depth with anyone who's interested. Please contact me at:

Riptide - Sewer Charge Graphic - 3

Riptide - Sewer Charge Graphic - Figure 2

Sewer Charge Graphic 1 PDF

Sewer Charge Graphic 2 PDF

Coastside Needs Direct Connections to Caltrain, Oyster Point, BART

Get Involved in Planning

Tell MTC,, SamTrans, and your elected representatives (city and county) to include the San Mateo County Coastside in all future transportation planning and services. Existing SamTrans bus lines do connect the Coastside to Colma and Daly City BART (including some limited express service), but Coastside commuters really need direct, dedicated, speedy shuttle buses to Oyster Point, Caltrain, and BART transit hubs like Millbrae, Colma, and Daly City.

Pacifica sunset

PH1A Joins Caltrans Watch Protest in San Francisco

PH1A banner--at protest 




Sit-in at protest

PH1A protest sign
By Chaya Gordon, Special to Riptide

Caltrans projects are causing big problems throughout the state. Here in Pacifica, while replacing the San Pedro Creek bridge, Caltrans got off to a bad start with its Highway 1 detour. Bottlenecks were particularly bad due to inadequate, poorly located signage. Caltrans paid a little bit of attention to criticism and improved the signage.

But every time I see the lighted sign Caltrans added just past Rockaway that says, “SB detour, right turn ahead,” which gives no hint of how far ahead the detour is, I can’t help but wonder how many cars are wandering around one of the Linda Mar beach parking lots before they get to the detour.

These traffic problems will look small compared to what will come with the permanent devastation to Pacifica’s scenic coastal area if Caltrans goes ahead with its ill-conceived plan to make Highway 1 wider than 280, from Reina Del Mar to Fassler.

We all know about the problems with the Bay Bridge cost overruns due to bad bolts and leakage. Recently, Caltrans actually blamed cost overruns to dismantle the old bridge on the cormorant birds!

But people in the Bay Area may not know what Caltrans is doing up north. In Humboldt County, Caltrans came up with a plan to widen Highway 101 through the Richardson Grove of ancient redwoods to make it easier for large, commercial trucks to drive through. The plan involved destroying tree roots and cutting down old-growth redwoods. In January 2014, a California appeals court ordered Caltrans to reevaluate the environmental impacts of this project.

In Mendocino County, Caltrans is building an oversized freeway bypass, and in the process has destroyed sacred Indian cultural sites and more than 40 acres of wetlands. Caltrans completely destroyed an ancient village after saying it wouldn’t touch the village, violating several laws. Caltrans claimed this was an accident due to faulty maps. Caltrans also passed the buck to the Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction because of the wetlands. But Caltrans still plans to destroy more Indian sites to build the bypass that local people don’t even want.   

Caltrans Watch is a statewide coalition formed to connect the many local groups fighting Caltrans projects. Several members of Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives (PH1A) brought the PH1A banner to the first Bay Area Caltrans Watch protest on November 18, at the Army Corps of Engineers offices on Market Street in San Francisco.

The Army Corps refused to meet with tribal leaders of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, who sat down in front of one of the doors of the building, which was locked by building security when the protest started. Tribal leaders had contacted the Army Corps requesting a meeting, but had received no response.

The tribe wants the Willits Bypass project to stop or scale down, and an end to the destruction of ancient sacred cultural sites and wetlands. Joining in the protest were people from Humboldt, Mendocino, and other areas, including the American Indian Movement and Earth Defenders.

For several hours, the crowd of 100 was steadfast with drumming and chanting (“Army Corps, open the door!”), as Pomo tribal leaders tried to negotiate with the Army Corps of Engineers and the San Francisco Police Department.

Finally, two tribal representatives were allowed into the building to meet with Army Corps staff. Despite the government’s continuous despicable treatment of American Indians, including Caltrans’ violation of Pomo rights, it was inspiring for us to be there representing Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives, and to be part of this coalition victory as the Pomo Indians continue to fight against Caltrans to save their community.

Bye Bye, Panda

By Gary Hanauer, Special to Riptide

As long expected, Pablo Sandoval is leaving the Giants and accepting a five-year, $100 million offer by the Red Sox, basically confirming that the Giants never really were serious about trying to keep him, and that Sandoval actually never really intended to stay anyway, according to media reports. The rest has been p.r. fluff.

Behind the scenes, Panda was angered by the Giants' initial, shockingly low offer of a three-year, $40 million deal, which was made in spring training -- shock and disdain that never went away. In the end, the Giants only offered him $95 million, but reportedly agreed -- finally, at the last moment -- to raise it to being open to going as high as $100 million.

They refused to get into a bidding war that would have kept Sandoval, but would have also lowered their remaining budget for other players, which (please see below) they are well aware they will desperately need to retain some of their key players, even as others depart. It's also believed Pablo liked the idea of switching because of the location of the Sox spring training camp: Florida, where some Sandoval family members live.

With so many Giants players now free to cut their own, post-World Series deals as free agents, a number of them -- and the agents and advisors who represent and guide them -- love the idea of getting a huge pay increase. Most likely, this is just the start of the end of the dynasty team we've seen win three of last five World Series. A number of stars, including several top pitchers, are going to go.

What's the good news? The Giants aren't going to take their hefty, new $100 million and store it away in the bank. They're going to use it to go after some great new players. Who knows, they could be even better than the ones who are going.

Library Offers Free Streaming Videos

                                  San Mateo County Library (including Coastside branches in Pacifica and Half Moon Bay) now offers streaming video to its library cardholders. Video collections include:

IndieFlix, online streaming of award-winning independent films, shorts, and documentaries from around the world, with unlimited access to thousands of streaming film-festival hits, including the best of Sundance, Cannes, and Tribeca.

Criterion Collection, more than 200 acclaimed films from Gus Van Sant, Guillermo del Toro, Federico Fellini, John Ford, Jean-Luc Godard, Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa, Francois Truffaut, and Orson Welles.

PBS Video Collection, hundreds of great PBS documentaries and series, including films of Ken Burns, Great Performances, and Frontline.

World Newsreels Online (1929-1966), full runs of newsreels (short documentary films) in their original form, including nine newsreel series from the United States, Japan, France, and the Netherlands, bringing history to life.

No special setup or software required—all you need is a San Mateo County Library Card, broadband Internet connection, and a device to instantly stream video. For information and instructions, visit your local San Mateo County Library branch or click this link

Pacifica's Portola Statue by Catalonian Sculptor Subirachs


The statue of Gaspar de Portolá (top) on Highway 1 in Pacifica had long reminded me of the Passion Façade (bottom) of the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona, Spain. As farfetched as it seemed, I decided to look into whether there was a relationship. To my utter shock and delight, it turns out that both works are by the Catalonian painter and sculptor Josep Maria Subirachs. Take a closer look at the sculpture of Portolá, and you see that it is a very impressive work – making Pacifica the lucky home of world-renowned art.

Marie Aquanette

Fall Colors?

Dear Riptide Editor: Did you happen to notice the unusually ugly "Fall Colors" photo at the top of the November 19 Pacifica Tribune editorial page? For one thing, it was printed in black and white, so there were no fall colors, unless you consider ash gray a color. For another, perhaps because of the lack of actual color, you could not tell what the picture showed. Was it a tree or was it some dog's dinner?

Dolores De Cabeza

Clipper Card @ New BART-Oakland Airport Train

Funny dollar bill
You can now use your Clipper card to ride the new elevated train between Coliseum BART and Oakland International Airport. Instead of exiting Coliseum BART station at the regular fare gates, take the escalator, stairs, or elevator to get to Platform 3. Tag your Clipper card at the fare gate and proceed to the "BART to OAK" boarding area. Returning from the airport, simply tag your card at a fare gate to exit Platform 3 at the Coliseum BART station. Catch a train to your final destination. Trains run every five minutes. Make sure you have either cash value or a High Value Discount (HVD) ticket on your card. Clipper will deduct your fare from your card’s balance whenever you enter or exit the "BART to OAK" boarding area. Visit for more information.