Editorial: Does the Chronicle’s editorial board read the Chronicle?

Editorial

Posted by on Sun, January 6, 2008

The editorial in today’s Chronicle blames slow-growth policies for the Yamagiwa decision, leading with "The taxpayers of Half Moon Bay may find out that slow-growth policies can come with a cost."

Somehow the Chronicle missed the facts of the case, as reported by the, um, San Francisco Chronicle:

Walker ruled that the city had created the wetlands - and damaged the property - by botching a storm drain project and by allowing dirt to be removed for a nearby housing development. Its wetlands status meant the plot could not be developed under state coastal regulation.

The simple fable that environmentalists are responsible for the Yamagiwa decision is very appealing. It allows the assignment of blame, it sounds like poetic justice, and fits with a popular theme in right-wing radio: that property owners have lost their rights to busybodies. And you, sir, are no longer safe in your own home, author of your own fate, or master of your domain.


When you read the editorial, note that Chronicle’s editorial board, like Judge Walker, does not know actually know what a “Catch-22” is.

Also, did you ever notice that the only time we hear about the insanity of civil judgments is when corporations are on the losing end?

Since when does the SF Chronicle become “The Voice of Developers and Right-Wing Property Rights Extremists” rather than just ” The Voice of the West?”

According to the Chronicle editors:

“Keenan tried to improve the land in 1999, but Half Moon Bay stopped him. When the developer tried to pump water away from the property.”

Will somebody please explain how Keenan’s attempt to illegally drain wetlands qualifies as “improving the land?”

Half Moon Bay “stopped him” because he was breaking the law folks. The Chronicle editors are either completely clueless or doing a favor for some well-connected friend. My guess is the latter.

Barry, Thanks for alerting your readers to the editorial. Sadly, the Chronicle is not the paper it used to be. I responded with a letter to the editor. It was a challenge to keep it under their 200 word requirement.  I wonder if it will see the light of day. Among other things, I directed Chronicle readers to the Coastsider for information on Beachwood.
Sofia

For those of us who remember the way the Chronicle used to be, the sentence “Sadly, the Chronicle is not the paper it used to be.” is a very damning statement indeed.

Comment 5
Mon, January 7, 2008 9:06pm
jlundell
All my comments

Snarky but true. If it wasn’t for bad newspapers, we wouldn’t have (had) no newspapers at all.

The City’s law firm provided a strong rebuttal to the Chron’s editorial in today’s (January 8) Letter to the Editor section. The printed letter is reproduced below. Here is the link

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/08/EDKJU9K9N.DTL&hw=Letters+to+the+Editor&sn=001&sc=1000

“Facts about the Half Moon Bay wetlands

Editor - Our law firm represents the city of Half Moon Bay in their appeal of the Yamagiwa decision. The Chronicle omitted key facts in its Jan. 6 editorial criticizing the city (“A swamp in Half Moon Bay”).

Here are four such facts: The soil removal from Beachwood that U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said was the principal cause of the wetlands was the result of a development project that Beachwood’s previous owner petitioned the city to undertake. This developer agreed to, and paid for, the removal of most of the soil from Beachwood. Charles Keenan was on notice of these facts when he purchased Beachwood.

According to Judge Walker, there were multiple indicators of wetlands conditions on Beachwood from 1985-93, including ponding, saturated soil and wetland vegetation.

Mr. Keenan was only prevented from draining water from Beachwood after wetlands were discovered on the property in 1999, when draining became illegal. He was never prevented from taking action between 1993-1999, and could have drained the water, filled the depressions and cleaned the debris on his property - or sought permits to do so. Why didn’t he?

Judge Walker never asked: What did Mr. Keenan know, and why should he get $37 million for buying Beachwood at the fire-sale foreclosure price of $1 million and doing nothing but allowing wetlands to develop on it?

The Chronicle editorialist knew these facts - but chose to ignore them. We trust the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals won’t.

JOHN KNOX

San Francisco”