Is Coastsider Orwellian?

Editorial

Posted by on Thu, September 28, 2006

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George Orwell. Click to see what Wikipedia has to say about him.

If there was a question I thought I wouldn’t have to ask, it’s whether Coastsider is Orwellian. But I’m asking the question of our audience, because a distinguished Coastsider has made the accusation in a public forum.

Monday, I sent out a cheery newsletter describing some features of the site that I thought our readers would find interesting. It included the following item:

Finally, the hottest story on Coastsider right now is letter from a former planning commissioner about the HMB Planning Commission meeting which APPROVED THE NEW CCWD PIPELINE AGAINST THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE COASTAL COMMISSION. There’s some excellent discussion that includes one of the planning commissioners as well as a member of the CCWD board. We offer a great deal of information about this controversial issue that you won’t get from any other source. I don’t think you can understand this issue without reading this discussion:

  https://coastsider.com/index.php/site/news/1509/

Along with the thanks from our equally cheery readers, I was copied on a dyspeptic message from one citizen to the entire CCWD board:

So Folks…......scroll to the bottom and read Barry Parr’s total misrepresentation of the infamous late night planning commission meeting.

Is he pining for discussion on his blog?

How sad!

Yikes. More on my misrepresentations (although nothing on my sadness) in a moment, because you’re going to get to see the entire exchange. Normally, I don’t forward private email willy-nilly, let alone publish it. But this was copied to the entire CCWD board (and others), so it’s a public document, both literally and legally.

Here’s where it gets fun. My request for clarification ("What did I misrepresent?" was the entire message) prompted an angry, angry response from James Larimer, PhD., a member of the CCWD board.  He copied his message to the other members of the board.  Unless I’m mistaken, that makes it not only a public document, but a (technical) violation of California’s open meeting law. I made a point of replying to him alone, and he copied his reply to the board yet again. Here’s the part that took me aback:

Finally, you infer that a Coastal Commission staffer, who was heavy lobbied by Lansing, is the Coastal Commission.

This kind of reporting of public events pretending to be news or objective commentary is at best yellow journalism. The apparent motivation for your editorial comments make it look more like double speak out of an Orwellian novel, intent to achieve a political goal and not designed to inform the debate.

I think he meant "imply", not "infer", but he’s right about one thing.  I confused the Coastal Commission staff with the Commission itself.  They use the same letterhead, but they’re not the same thing. I feel pretty sheepish about getting that wrong. 

I was surprised by the tone of Dr. Larimer’s letter because he always seems so cheerful and avuncular in his opinion pieces in the Review about all the great stuff we’re not getting because our developments aren’t big enough (last month, last year and even earlier).

But mostly, Dr. Larimer’s letter left me baffled rather than sheepish.  It was mainly a recitation of good stuff I’d neglected to say about the CCWD’s pipeline application. Fair enough, I suppose. But, as far as I can tell, I’ve never written anything about the pipeline—positive or negative. As for "reporting of public events pretending to be news or objective commentary", the offending passage in our newsletter accurately described the link as a Letter to the editor from a former planning commissioner. If you followed the link, you’d see the headline began "Letter:" and the story was tagged "Letter to the editor" in the same bright green we use for press releases. Dr. Larimer’s accusation of Orwellian double speak seems unintentionally ironic.

If you read all the comments on Sofia Freer’s letter to the editor, and I recommend you do, you’ll see that Dr. Larimer posted four of eighteen comments on the letter, and I posted ... um ... none.

Personally, I find the vicious, behind-the-scenes name-calling exemplified by Dr. Larimer’s email to be the single most corrosive force in the Coastside community. That he felt the need to show it off to his friends feels like the behavior of a schoolyard bully.

But, Dr. Larimer seems to have a thing about Coastsider.  Recently, on the Review’s website, he called it "Nimby blog". If it were a girl, I’d say he had a secret crush on Coastsider.

I definitely have a point of view, although it’s a lot more moderate than Dr. Larimer wants you to think. Take a look at my treatment of Don Bacon’s Smart Growth letter. He submitted it to Town Hall and I promoted it to a main-page story, and it is still in our Top Stories list.  In the comments, I pretty much agreed with half of it.  But I also questioned him about some areas where I thought he had diverged from Smart Growth philosophy.

But the most important thing to remember, as I reminded Dr. Larimer, is that everyone has equal standing in Coastsider comments.  No one, including me, gets favored treatment. This is in contrast to the Review, where Clay and Deb won’t mix it up with you in the comments. No one is edited here, unless they’re not being civil. So please click the link below, read the emails, and add your comments. I promise not to distort them, unless of course I think you’re wrong. (That was a joke, Jim.)

Coastsider: Orwellian or Utopian? Sandbag or sandbox? Nimby blog or friendly frog?

You tell me.

 

Is Coastsider Orwellian?

NOTE: The distribution lists have been edited to remove email address.

From: Barry Parr
Sent: Monday, September 25, 2006 12:36 PM
To:
Subject: Coastsider Newsletter


This has been a busy couple of months for Coastsider, and we’ve made some major improvements to the site.

The biggest one is that we completely upgraded our content management system in August. This puts us in a position to improve the site faster in the future, and increases our reliability.

Our first big improvement is TOWN HALL. Town Hall is a discussion forum that is integrated with the Coastsider.  Town Hall adds two important features to Coastsider: any user can create a topic on Town Hall, and any user can reply to a Town Hall topic, without prior review. This should allow more spontaneous conversation. Coastsider members have automatic access to Town Hall when they are logged in to the site.  Any Coastsider user can read the postings on the site.  If you want access to posting, be sure you are using your full name as your screen name and reply to this message and tell us you want posting access to Town Hall.

  https://coastsider.com/index.php/site/news/1527/

The next big step is that we are now offering STREAMED CLIPS OF LOCAL BOARD MEETINGS. We’ve done it from time to time in the past, but we plan to make publish even more clips of the newsworthy portions of meetings, usually the same night or the next day.  We have put together a direct-to-disk recording system to do this and will be working out the kinks over the next few weeks. Try out our first nearly-live recording of the HMB City Council and tell us what you think:

  https://coastsider.com/index.php/site/news/1528/

Finally, the hottest story on Coastsider right now is letter from a former planning commissioner about the HMB Planning Commission meeting which APPROVED THE NEW CCWD PIPELINE AGAINST THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE COASTAL COMMISSION. There’s some excellent discussion that includes one of the planning commissioners as well as a member of the CCWD board. We offer a great deal of information about this controversial issue that you won’t get from any other source. I don’t think you can understand this issue without reading this discussion:

  https://coastsider.com/index.php/site/news/1509/

 

Barry Parr
Editor & Publisher, Coastsider

 

————————————————————————————————

From: Ascher, Mary
To: Ed Schmidt, Everett Ascher, James Larimer, Chris Mickelsen, Bob Feldman, Ken Coverdell
Cc: [email protected]
Date: Sep 25, 2006 2:30 PM
Subject: FW: Coastsider Newslette


So Folks…......scroll to the bottom and read Barry Parr’s total misrepresentation of the infamous late night planning commission meeting.

Is he pining for discussion on his blog?

How sad!

Mary

————————————————————————————————

From: Barry Parr
Sent: Monday, September 25, 2006 3:56 PM
To: Ascher, Mary
Subject: Re: FW: Coastsider Newsletter

What did I misrepresent?

bp

————————————————————————————————

From: James Larimer
To: Barry Parr
Cc: Ed Schmidt, Everett Ascher, James Larimer, Chris Mickelsen, Bob Feldman, Ken Coverdell, Mary Ascher
Date: Sep 25, 2006 8:23 PM
Subject: Re: Barrry’s Response…....and mine…....

Barry-

Your claim " . . . the HMB Planning Commission meeting which APPROVED THE NEW CCWD PIPELINE AGAINST THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE COASTAL COMMISSION . .." is a good example of your distorted reporting on several levels.

You fail to mention that 5 out of seven HMB Planning Commissioners who saw all of the correspondence or had access to it, voted to grant the CDP. You fail to mention that when the County Planning Commission reviewed many of the same materials, that they unanimously voted to approve a CDP. You failed to mention that the professional planners who are charged with knowing the governing local, state, and federal procedures and laws recommended approval. And you failed to mention that the Director of Planning of the City of Half Moon Bay repeatedly told Kevin Lansing that his interpretations of the procedures and regulations were incorrect.

You also failed to mention that Kevin Lansing, who sits as a member of the planning commission, lobbied several state and federal agencies to find cause to delay or deny the permit. Do you think it is ethical for someone so adamantly opposed to an action to oppose it behind the scene and then sit in judgment too? His correspondence was not mentioned in your report and his adamant intension to prevent the CDP from being granted was also something you failed to mention.

Finally, you infer that a Coastal Commission staffer, who was heavy lobbied by Lansing, is the Coastal Commission.

This kind of reporting of public events pretending to be news or objective commentary is at best yellow journalism. The apparent motivation for your editorial comments make it look more like double speak out of an Orwellian novel, intent to achieve a political goal and not designed to inform the debate.

I suspect that is what Mary is complaining to you about. If that is her complaint, add my complaint to hers.

If you want your website to be a place for discussion and dialog, objectivity and balance would help a lot. I see very little balance or objectivity there now with your occasional sandbagging of the issues and the speakers with statements like your comments quoted above and copied below. A valid argument does not need these advantages and biases to be seen as correct.

Public discussion and debate can help people understand differing perspectives on important issues before us, but it must be fair and balanced if any good is to come of it.

Jim

James Larimer, Ph.D. 
ImageMetrics, LLC
569 Alto Avenue
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

————————————————————————————————


From: Barry Parr
To: James
Date: Sep 25, 2006 10:55 PM
Subject: Re: Re: Barrry’s Response…....and mine…....

Jim:

You’re right: "against the recommendation of Coastal Commission staff" would have been more accurate. If it were online, I’d post a correction.  But I don’t think this warrants a second email.

As for the rest of your email, keep in mind that it’s a headline, and not a news story.  It’s also pointing to a letter to the editor, not a news story, as was is made clear in the paragraph quoted.  The letter was also labeled as such in the title, with a bright green label, and in a prefatory note. It could hardly have been less Orwellian.

I found Sofia’s and Kevin’s descriptions of the meeting and their reasoning helpful in understanding the dispute, but I never suggested it was the complete picture.  I believe it’s necessary, but not sufficient, for understanding the dispute.

You’re welcome add your voice to the conversation, as you have already. Your opinions get the same treatment as Kevin’s and Jack’s. Or mine, for that matter.  Which is the reason your charge of "sandbagging"  baffles me.

bp

————————————————————————————————

From: James Larimer
To: Barry Parr
Cc: Mary Ascher, Ed Schmidt, Everett Ascher, James Larimer, Chris Mickelsen, Bob Feldman, Ken Coverdell
Date: Sep 26, 2006 9:08 AM
Subject: Re: Barrry’s Response…....and mine…....

Barry-

Your vision is so clouded by your opinions and biases that you are unable to see the impropriety in your commentary. The entire episode has simply ignored a vast set of actions, facts and procedural details that paint a very different story. Fairness and balance would at least suggest mentioning them and not ignoring them entirely. You have taken Lansing’s position without questioning the facts or his behind the scenes efforts to prevent the permit from being granted and at the same time let him and others imply that the CCWD Board had done likewise, which is untrue.

Sandbagging refers to biased editorial commentary designed to undercut arguments and the people who make them by withholding important facts and details.

Here is a definition from Wikipedia: " . . .  "sandbagging" is also regularly used in law to refer to the process of concealing winning arguments for as long as possible, . . . " To me it is an apt description of your comments and behavior.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandbag

Jim

James Larimer, Ph.D. 
ImageMetrics, LLC
569 Alto Avenue
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019


Well, I can’t say that I am surprised by Mr. Larimer’s over-the-top accusations and distortions.  Barry’s use of the word “bully,” is descriptive; I have used the term myself in reference to CCWD’s strong-arm political tactics.

[Link to 9/9/06 article in HMB Review]
http://www.hmbreview.com/articles/2006/08/30/news/local_news/story04.txt

Mr. Larimer’s email accuses me of lobbying “several state and federal agencies to find cause to delay or deny the permit.”  The job of the Planning Commission is to ensure that any proposed project complies with the law. In this case, the HMB zoning code required the solicitation of comments of other state and federal regulatory agencies with jurisdiction over the project. The fact that Mr. Larimer sees communications with these regulatory agencies as a problem speaks volumes about his views of complying with the law. 

Another contradiction from Mr. Larimer (who is an elected official sworn to obey the law) is his view that the opinions of HMB City staff should not be challenged in any way, while at the same time, he thinks that the opinions of the California Coastal Commission staff should be ignored.

Thankfully, with regard to contacts with the California Coastal Commission staff, Mr. Larimer does not speak for CCWD. On September 27, 2006, CCWD General Manager Ed Schmidt sent a letter to the Coastal Commission staff’s North Coast Program Manager Chris Kern.

In that letter, CCWD committed to: (1) fully implement the biological mitigation measures recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and (2) accept conditions on water-supply capacity to avoid growth-inducing impacts that were imposed on previous phases of the pipeline project. These were two of the main sources of contention at the August 24 HMB Planning Commission meeting that lasted until 1:30am.

Given CCWD’s recent written commitments, it is my understanding that the Coastal Commission staff will allow the appeal deadline to pass, thereby allowing the project to move forward. This is a favorable development for sure, but it would have been far better for all involved to have resolved these planning issues upfront and in the open, during the local public hearing process, rather than in an after-the-fact scramble by CCWD to avoid an almost certain appeal by the Coastal Commission itself.

Comment 2
Fri, September 29, 2006 7:11pm
Leonard Woren
All my comments

I recall watching a CCWD meeting where Director Larimer asked Counsel “What happens if we just ignore the [CCC] conditions [placed on the pipeline expansion]?”  His line of questioning was exploring the possibility of claiming that CCWD agreed to the conditions under duress, and therefore didn’t have to abide by them.

Comment 3
Fri, September 29, 2006 7:59pm
Janet Zich
All my comments

Barry,

I wonder why you feel you must refer to James Larimer, PhD.,  a scholar who resorts to Wikipedia as a final source, as “Dr. Larimer.” In MSM newspapers and magazines, the term “Dr.” is normally reserved for doctors of medicine, human or veterinary, on second and later mention.

The JIm Larimer we all know and love is not a doctor of medicine, but of experimental psychology, a degree he earned some three and a half decades ago. (No, not environmental resources, waste management, engineering, agriculture, or anthing close to what might give him special insight into the workings of the Coastside water district. Unless he’s experimenting on his fellow board members, an interesting thought.) A recent job title I found for Larimer was “Principal Scientist of Computational Human Engineering Research” at NASA. Computational human engineering? Scary!

Question: If you get flamed by the water board, can they then claim they need a bigger pipe to put out the fire?

Janet

Comment 4
Sat, September 30, 2006 9:53am
Leonard Woren
All my comments

Well this has been educational.  First I learned a lot about George Orwell from the link to the Wikipedia article.  Then I checked Wikipedia for “doublespeak” and surprisingly found out that the word does not appear in Orwell’s “1984”.

Is it doublespeak to claim that a replacement of a 10” line with a 16” line is not an expansion”  Read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublespeak and decide for yourself.  Jim Larimer’s calling it “infrastructure renewal” perfectly fits the Wikipedia definition of Doublespeak—reference for example the part about calling mass firings by various other more innocuous names.

(Donning my asbestos suit now.)

Comment 5
Sat, September 30, 2006 9:41pm
Carl May
All my comments

Um, Janet, you know Ph.D. is also commonly taken to mean “Piled higher, Deeper,” following in progression from B.S. and M.S. degrees below it. Can we really be certain what Barry had in mind when he keyboarded those three letters? Maybe a psychologist would have insight, ergo the ire?

Heck, any school kid can see that a bigger pipe coming into an area coveted by developers but already using water in quantities that are not locally sustainable is an expansion of infrastructure that will be growth-inducing—even with the required usage restrictions that are too trivial for a Ph.D. to even acknowledge. All the the approval babble is nothing more than hacking about with semantic machetes until a myth people will buy is carved out and the desired path cleared.

Carl May

Hey, Leonard, fun! Just checked out Wikipedia’s “doublespeak” and found it links to one of the great euphemisms of our time, Janet Jackson’s so-called “wardrobe malfunction.” If I’ve ever heard of an occasion where a Larimerian “infrastructure renewal” was needed, this is it!

What’s not fun is that we’re being bombarded on every side by people who demean our language to prove a point. I hope everyone is reading Frank Rich’s “The Greatest Story Ever Sold” to understand how this has been done on the national level. To understand how it works on the Coastside, well, you may read it here, but you sure won’t find it in the local paper.

Remember the first line of the Orwell novel, 1984…”It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”  Odd, is the theme, and it gets even more curiouser.

A most often repeated line of the Orwellian plot.. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU . 

Today in HMB, or the SMC coastline,  try to plow a field, try to paint a house, try to clean a ditch, try to trim a tree or a bush, try…anything ..and you might be confronted with a camera by an anonymous canary, OR an appeal by someone you have never seen or heard from, OR an attack on a blog OR an article on coastsider.. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU . 

Whatever happened to the concept of neighbors?  Or the concept of communicating concerns and issues with neighbors? 

terry gossett

OBTW I worked with Dr Larimer and see no possible issue with addressing him as Dr….he earned it, and should be given due respect.

Hi Terry,

I’m not sure if I’m one of your canaries that you write so much about. I certainly carry a camera (both video and still) but I’m certainly not anonymous.

I don’t buy your view that activist citizens here on the coast represent some sort of oppressive “big brother.” What we really have here is beautiful coastal area where the land values have skyrocketed—lots of money to be made by building houses. It is, deep down, raw capitalism, not some sort of Soviet Socialism.

As for being neighborly…you surely have noticed that development is a controversial issue among neighbors here on the coast.

There’s nothing neighborly about disking a property on long weekends or after dark in order to avoid running afoul of the law. Your canaries that you worry about are doing nothing more than trying to make some of these shenanigans visible to the public so that the citizens of the coast can see what is going on and form their own opinions. That’s called democracy.

A developer sneaking around after dark in order to destroy protected wetlands on his property can hardly cry, “He’s spying on me!” when caught on film without looking like a fool.

The democratic process works best in full daylight, not in the nighttime glare of some tractor’s headlights.

—Darin

There’s a crucial difference here. Reporting suspected thought crimes to a dictorship is reprehensible. Reporting suspected property crimes in a democracy is good citizenship.

Hey Darin…neighbor,

First, I was not even thinking about you with the term anonymous canary…when have you ever been anonymous?, and as far as being a canary…when have you filed appeals or called gov authorities without discussing the issues with an “offender”?

Your pix and vid add value to the community understanding of recurring issues and events…devil’s slide, hmb cc meetings, etc.  Thank you for that….as I did for the excellent near real time coverage of hmb cc.

I sense that it would be better to have transparent open dialog between neighbors based on data (which you and I are trying to make available), rather than having someone running to, say, the code enforcement “staff” officer for the North Central Coastal Commission..who then pens a letter of 15 very very specific issues to the Wavecrest “offender” and which 15 questions may or may not conform with the law…sort of smacks of intimidation, huh?

Well, I think you and I have bracketed the issue and I hope it helps us realize how much we all acknowledge how wonderful this place is, and if we can find a better process for cooperation and collaboration, maybe we can preserve this place.  It would be great to create a model for other communities rather than merely perpetuating adversarial angst.

best,

terry

ps.. I believe that the growth issue is off the table with the LCP updates for Midcoast and HMB and the implementation of Measure D, so I would love to just monitor the gov authorities for compliance, rather than watchdog every neighbor’s plot 24-7…

Ok, people, let’s stop beating around the bush. 
Terry Gossett doesn’t like “anonymous canaries” for one reason and one reason only:  people doing illegal things on their property have a much harder time intimidating/bullying the canaries when they’re anonymous.

I guess it’s time for me to publicly relate a certain incident from a number of years ago.  I was asked by another activist who didn’t have a camera to go take pictures of some illegal activities and send them to the Coastal Commission’s code enforcement officer.  The large property is along SR 1, and I was very careful to stay on the public right of way while taking pictures.  As I was leaving, the property owner came out with a disposable camera, did his best to intimidate me without actually threatening me, took pictures of me and my car (parked on the OTHER side of the highway), and then apparently called a certain less-than-ethical HMB police officer.  When I got home there was an intimidating message on my answering machine from that officer.  I had done nothing wrong and he knew it.  This was an abuse of authority and perhaps an illegal use of his access to vehicle registrations.  By the way, that officer seems to have a reputation for this type of stunt—the answering machine message was fuzzy and it was difficult to hear his name exactly.  I spoke to a knowledge person in HMB, whose response was “oh yeah, don’t worry about it; (name) does that all the time.”

After getting a much more threatening phone call from another local developer whose property I had taken pictures of, I came up with this:

Q:  What is a developer’s worst nightmare?
A:  An environmentalist with a camera.

Darin, I don’t think you are one of the canaries that Mr. Gossett has written about—though I certainly can’t speak for him. The pictures of Mr Canary that have been circulating via email are not you—i’ve seen you doing your much appreciated (not being sarcastic, either!) video thing at public meetings.

If Mr. Canary is such a good citizen, why is he hiding his face in the pictures as the camera-wielding-in-self-defense farmer approaches him? Mr. C (not his real initial) certainly doesn’t appear to be taking landscapes of our scenic coast! Or snapping pictures of our agricultural heritage!

The pictures of Mr. C. do not have any night-vision-scope green tinge to them, nor do they appear to be snapped with a flash, so I am pretty certain they were taken in broad daylight.

Perhaps we are speaking of different incidents, since the one you mention happened in the dead of night?

My point is, why would someone be afraid (ashamed?) of being photographed documenting what they think is a crime? As the farmer approached, Mr. C.  could have gotten out of his car to talk rather than put his hands up to cover his face.

“Reporting suspected property crimes in a democracy is good citizenship.”

On one hand, you do not allow anonymous posters on your site and you do screen comments, both here and on TownHall, ostensively to protect yourself and maintain a “clean” site.

On the other hand, you tolerate and even seem to encourage anonymous reports made to authorities about “suspected property crimes,” regardless of the reports being made by credible sources.

Can you explain how these seemingly divergent approaches to property can be supported at the same time?

How is your (self) treatment justified (the ability to maintain and improve your property) while at the same time, real property owners have a lessened sense of “security.”

for the Wikipedia fans:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiet_enjoyment

it nicely re-directs you to “Nuisance.”

Hi Barry..

Somehow that crucial difference escapes me.  Thought “crimes” are manifested by actions and deeds.  Along the SMC coast those “crimes” seem to include painting, trimming, mowing, cleaning out culverts and ditches, harvesting, and disking.  Compare that with when I lived in Los Altos Hills the fire marshall came by every year to require me to disk and or mow my field within a short time span or face consequences, yet here disking, according to this website, is a “crime”.

ALSO…If thought crimes stayed in the head…who would know?

In the novel 1984, thought crimes were monitored by thought police, to ensure proper newspeak or even deduce duckspeak (to quack or speak without thinking…probably ungood…)

Barry, I am merely suggesting a different protocol than you propose for “Reporting suspected property crimes in a democracy is good citizenship.”

I recommend…Get the facts, identify the appropriate law, talk with your neighbor, work it out.  If that does not work out, follow the proper local process and the chain of command rather than making assertions and filing complaints among unduly aggressive staffers at the state or national level..
 
best,

terry

Citizens are not law enforcement officers.  If you believe that someone is breaking the law, or a building code, and you’re not already on a speaking basis with them, any conversation is likely to be fruitless.  If they tell you they have a permit, what then?  Do you demand to see it?  Will you be able to correctly interpret the terms of the permit? What if they tell you they have a verbal OK from an anonymous employee of the city planning department? What if they show you a letter from their attorney that states they don’t need the county’s permission to do what they’re doing? Now, that’s a head-scratcher.

It’s the job of the county or city to enforce the codes, not the citizens. What you’re asking is for us not to enforce the law.

Hey Leonard,

First, thanks for that admission…that is a great start.

Why provide pictures to staffers at the Coastal Commission?  Why not some local folk instead of a staffer at a State agency? Why not talk with the property owner?

I know one or two possible folk that may have been your target property owner from your story, and it might be good to have them post their side of the story…and then set up a meeting with you so neighbors can work this out at the local level…OK?  My lead candidate portrays this somewhat differently, but through conversations we can work that out and move forward..

We can make this a less stressful place by cooperating, and that is my plan, or we can continue the ratchet this baby UP til it pops approach..    Ungood, as Orwellians would say…

I plan to be at the next Blue Circle meeting on 10 Oct, if I am not on a jury…(even if on jury, will come late)...and we can talk further, and work out the details..

terry gossett

Having been directed by “bginna” himself to Wikipedia’s definition of “nuisance,” I must admit I enjoyed this part:

“In the USA, the principle of coming to the nuisance states that existing uses of a property are generally not considered a nuisance if a new neighbour finds them objectionable. For example, if you move next door to a pig farm, you cannot claim that the normal operation of the pig farm constitutes a nuisance. However, if a pig farmer moves into a property that was formerly held by a flower nursery, their activities may constitute a nuisance. Under English law the situation is different: the 1879 case of Sturges v Bridgman is still good law, and a new owner can bring a claim in nuisance for the existing activities of a neighbour.”

Does anyone else think HMB and Coastside when they read this? (Not in any way comparing bginna’s real property to a pig farm.)

Hey Barry,

I think we are starting to agree.  You stated…  “It’s the job of the county or city to enforce the codes, not the citizens. What you’re asking is for us not to enforce the law.”

So, why are these pictures from canaries going to a Staffer on a state agency, the Coastal Commission?  IF someone has a local issue, why not start with a local solution? or a local authority?  As you say it’s the job of the county or city to enforce the codes…

I am all for law enforcement (for individuals as Well as the government), but in local issues I believe that before enforcement is called in locals can work out many property issues through discussions and cooperation…What happened to that step?

If I don’t know someone, as they say in Texas whup out, shake their hand, get to know them, what could go wrong?

I am merely trying to offer some friendly alternatives to the current coastal paradigm.. Rigid adherance to past ideologies may be harmful to us all, and the environment.

best,

terry gossett

Yes, but the authorities aren’t able to be out there checking on every project, especially if no permit has been applied for. The only way that code enforcement is going to know what’s going on is for someone to tell them it’s happening.

Let’s also not forget that at Wavecrest, the place was surrounded by rental cops. No conversation was going to take place.  On occasions when I’ve had the opportunity to talk to the guys on the scene, they’re hired hands who don’t speak a lot of English and whose command of the building codes is a little rusty.

Terry, you haven’t addressed my question about what you do when you’re presented with a sheaf of papers or a line of reasoning that you’re not qualified to interpret. Do you trust the guy or do you ask the county/city what’s going on?

It still sounds to me like you don’t want the code enforced.

My understanding at the time was that the photos went to the CCC’s code enforcement officer because the violation was regarding a previous settlement with the Coastal Commission, and that the local agency (I don’t know if the property is within the city of HMB or is County) was not involved in the original enforcement action that was being violated.

SM County has an explicit policy (which is supposedly being re-evaluated) that code enforcement takes no action except in response to complaints from citizens.

I don’t know who “Mr. C” is, but please go back and re-read my recital of a couple of incidents I had, and then consider whether Mr. C might also have had experience being intimidated for simply taking photos.

Terry wrote Why not some local folk instead of a staffer at a State agency? Why not talk with the property owner?  Well, when has the County ever enforced its own environmental laws?  It’s completely pointless to contact San Mateo County regarding violation of environmental law.  (On the other hand, if you build a 5’1” fence and someone complains, watch out.)  As to talking with the property owner, I subsequently did talk to him and he took me on a tour of the property and explained some of the various disagreements he had with the CCC.  The problem is that he believes that he has done <u>nothing</u> wrong, and while I didn’t understand all of the issues because I only heard his side of them, and I just can’t believe that CCC code enforcement would be so totally wrong about multiple issues.  I suspect that an attitude adjustment on his part could go a long way towards resolution of his problems with the CCC.  In particular this means that he’s going to have to recognize that he in fact did do some illegal, environmentally damaging things.

There’s a parcel in the Montecito Riparian Corridor in El Granada which was illegally cleared by the builder/owner.  I heard that it’s one of the very few parcels that the County has declared unbuildable, yet they would not stop him from cutting the willlows down to bare dirt, after multiple complaints from the neighbors, which included photos.  All the County ever did is ask him to stop.  He simply ignored them and continued.  As to talking to him, that would have been pointless.  For example, he was parked in a “no parking, fire lane” area.  When this was pointed out to the Sheriff deputies there, he took a crowbar and removed the sign and threw it in his truck.  The Deputies simply left.

Terry Gossett wrote:
“If someone has a local issue, why not start with a local solution? or a local authority?  As you say it’s the job of the county or city to enforce the codes…”

Uh…yeah. That’s how things are supposed to work in a perfect world. But don’t forget that we have some local people who like to throw their weight around. They lobby City and County officials to cut corners. They intimidate those who try to enforce the local laws on their projects. And they spend big money to hire laywers and consultants to get their way.

Sometimes an appeal to an outside regulatory authority is the only recourse to ensure compliance with the law. By the way, that is why we have regulatory authorities—because a past track record of illegal behavior in a particular area has necessitated their existence.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is the perfect example. Do you think it would have worked for a small group of individual investors to sit down with Enron and Arthur Anderson executives and say: “You know guys, you really ought to just publically admit that this company is worth zero and you’ve been running a Ponzi scheme for years.”?

“But don’t forget that we have some local people who like to throw their weight around. “

Do you own any mirrors, Mr. Lansing?

There are more than a few elected officials who do “throw their weight around” and the people that elected them seem to not have a problem with that.

There are also a few appointed commission members, not officials, mind you, that like to do the EXACT same thing.  Problem is those folks have never been before the electorate.

“Sometimes an appeal to an outside regulatory authority is the only recourse to ensure compliance with the law.”

Appeals are one thing, and they are part of the process, however, anonymous complaints that disrupt private activities with no justifiable basis (and no, one frog is not a justifiable basis) are not fine, and if you were on the receiving end, you would agree.

The SEC is not a very good example of your picture of ensuring compliance in this situation - the SEC did nothing until Enron imploded.

The Arthur Anderson analogy, which Barry also invoked in some Wavecrest disking posts, is more apt.  That case, along with Mr. Quattrone’s recent success, involved overzealous prosecution.  The Arthur Anderson case was overturned and all actions against Mr. Quattrone have been dismissed.

I don’t know what Brian means by “anonymous complaints that disrupt private activities with no justifiable basis”.

I’m not aware of any any activity was halted with no justifiable basis.  In every case I’m aware of, there was a legitimate concern on the part of authorities.  In my experience, the authorities dismiss complaints that have no justifiable basis without interrupting lawful activity.

Generally, these situations arise because someone is trying to short-circuit the process.

Hi Barry,

If I see something going �wrong� I stay in prescribed channels first, (maybe it is because of 35 years working with the government), and then go up the chain of command, documenting as I go.

If you were to check my positions and issues over past years nearly all are for government to follow the law, as us citizens do. I trust our government and citizens to follow the law, but feel as Reagan said, �Trust, but verify�.  As one example, I requested the HMB CC to implement Measure D, the growth issue, as the people voted on it. 

If, I am confronted with a sheaf of papers or a line of reasoning I don�t understand I follow the same procedure, through channels.

On the LCP proceedings, if I could not understand sub-standard lot issues or processes I went to the person with that line authority, Jack Liebster or George Bergman, and requested explanations or lists or copies.  Geroge was very accommodating, but Jack was less so, so I filed a CA public records request to find the number and location of the HMB sub-standard lots.  My intent was to advise those property owners, in the event that the city did not, as to their status so that they would know the law, so that they could attend LCP meetings to make input to an update of the law, and could begin a dialog to better understand what they need to do to comply with said law.

As recently as yesterday, I talked with Mr Bergman on the impervious provisions of the next Midcoast LCP update.  He was very helpful, and even noted that I may have found an error which he will verify and correct.

I would be happy to meet with you to disscuss particulars, (especially recurring dysfunctional paradigms) as I did yesterday with Mr Bergman on impervious surfaces, or with Mr Ptacek concerning MWSD.  I offered to send letters to whomever to stop the apparent stalemate on getting wells into production and to expedite an increase to the MWSD water storage.

I do think you owe me an apology for suggesting I don�t want the code enforced.

Thanks for the forum,

terry

“I’m not aware of any any activity was halted with no justifiable basis.”

How about Farmer Iacopi at Big Wave.  Was there ever any followup to see how much the delay cost him?

Comment 26
Thu, October 5, 2006 11:56am
ken king
All my comments

Terry Gossett wrote yesterday (10/04),

“IF someone has a local issue, why not start with a local solution? or a local authority?  As you say it’s the job of the county or city to enforce the codes.I am all for law enforcement (for individuals as Well as the government), but in local issues I believe that before enforcement is called in locals can work out many property issues through discussions and cooperation…What happened to that step?”

Reasonable people would likely agree with this view, but since HMB’s enforcement, its planning commission and the council choose not to provide oversight, you end up at the Coastal Commission anyway. Thus it’s understandable that folks might go there first based on long term experience.

At the HMB council meeting the night before Terry’s post, discussion turned to an unagendized item regarding an appeal and whether there should be a $200 fee attached to it or not. Council members McClung and Patridge, as well as Mayor Fraser concluded that there should be no exceptions to the fee for such appeals, even though this would automatically allow it to go on to the CC free of charge. They responded in their discussion as if the issue was about maintaining a punitive fee rather than the city’s ability to keep local jurisdiction for reasons like those Terry and others often give.

This bears a moment’s pause to remember that candidates Patridge and McClung ran in ‘04 on the idea that they would bring back more local control to avoid the CC as much as possible. So when given the chance to put that into practice, what do they do but make a bureaucratic stand for nuisance fees instead of grasping that it should have been about exercising local control? 

So much of Terry’s make-nice is irrelevant to the facts on the ground, which is about the way city and county authorities make choices around here.

The Big Wave case is interesting.

The County halted the farming activity until the land’s owner supported his claim that the change in use was permissible.  It took the county a while to decide if this was correct.  I’d argue that the lack of clarity, and the sensitivity of the site, made it justifiable to wait until the owner’s claim could be checked out.

In both the Big Wave and Wavecrest (2004) cases, the delays could have been avoided by talking to the authorities beforehand. I’d argue that Mr. Iacopi was let down by the people he was leasing the land from.

It is very interesting, and a great point of discussion.  I think the steps that lead to the County’s involvement are more germain to this particular discussion.

https://coastsider.com/index.php/site/news/1354/

“Alarms were raised Monday evening when a bulldozer was seen spreading truckloads of dirt on the property.”

What caused the alarms?  Where did they go off?  Who set them off?  What do they sound/look like?

“Work continued Tuesday.”

“The California Coastal Commission’s enforcement division began looking into the matter on Tuesday…”

After that, the County is involved and ultimately finds nothing amiss.

I too want codes and laws enforced, but this is not enforcement.

I would have to agree with Terry regarding activist’s tactics on the coast that seem to be used to prevent a neighbor from doing something to their property. I can probably recount a dozen or more incidents where a neighbor tries to call on some agency (or lawyer in fact) in an attempt to stop another neighbor from performing some activity on their property. All they needed to do was speak to the person and see if there is something that can be done. I was so astonished how often that had happened here when I moved here 11 years ago, being that it is such a small community.
Ray

What is the obligation of the person initiating the activity to inform his neighbors and the authorities of his plans?

I’m not talking about legal requirements, but the requirments of simple neighborliness.  The obligation of communication shouldn’t fall on one side only. 

Recently one of my neighbors had a big wedding in the back yard. They left notes up and down the street letting us know what was coming and inviting us to the reception.  Isn’t that the way things are supposed to be done?

The Property Rights point of view seems to be that you have no obigation to take into account the effect of what you’re doing on the neighbors, even in the close quarters we have in most Coastside neighborhoods.

Oh, I nearly forgot, the topic of this thread is, Is Coastsider Orwellian?…

Have we digressed, or have we not adhered to the wikipedia definition?  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orwellian 

After reading all these postings, and comparing them with the definitions, I notice that certain factions are trying to create an Orwellian-like community here on the SMC coast, and that Coastsider.com is sympathetically reporting, endorsing, and supporting those factions.  But instead of being either the state or big brother from the novel 1984, we coastsiders have agents (anonymous canaries) acting on behalf of the state.  These agents subvert the normal processes by skipping local control processes and going to staffers at the state or national levels.

So, in that sense, coastsider.com is Orwellian…and that is my Official Vote.  If I have doubts regarding the official coastsider count on this Orwellian matter, remember that it is my Official Right to witness the recount.

As always, (and always awaiting apologies OR responses to past offers to meet and discuss any of the above). 

We all have got to lighten up a bit.

Your neighbor,

Terry Gossett

Comment 32
Sat, October 7, 2006 12:45pm
ken king
All my comments

Mr. Gossett, Orwellian futurespeak is the ability to re-engineer words and the truth to serve an opposing purpose. You’ve ignored the winks and nods by the city staff and council to mask activities that should be carried out through legal permits if they could have been obtained. Here the practice has devolved to doing the activity first and then saying someone (I can’t say who!) okayed it while being backed up by the council that this is a sound policy. I don’t know about you, but this strikes me as the essence of the meaning “Orwellian,” and it sure is NOT following the rules as you like to reiterate.

Tuesday night the council bypassed the opportunity to hear a local appeal, preferring instead to enforce a $200 fee that’s been inconsistenly applied in the past. They spoke nobly about needing to be consistent, but the question they begged, and one that broke one of Patridge and McClung’s campaign promises concerned asserting local control. By insisting on the fee, they’ve made it insanely easy for every appeal to go right to the Coastal Commission once the appellant refuses to pay the fee and withdraws the appeal.

Angels or devils, the CC is sure to be more enmeshed than ever in local affairs because public officials decided to not do their jobs.