Sierra Club questions HMB over Beachwood

Posted by on Sun, August 2, 2009

Lines are already being drawn in the next big battle over Beachwood. Half Moon Bay will take possession of the property at the end of August. At that point, the city will have a strong incentive to maximize development of the property.

On July 20, the Sierra Club’s Mark Massara has sent Half Moon Bay mayor John Muller a sharply-worded letter seeking clarification about quotes from Muller and city manager Michael Dolder about the future disposition of Beachwood in the County Times.

In particular, Massara took issue with Muller referring to the city’s 100 foot wetlands buffer as arbitrary and outrageous, and the city manager’s reference to repackaging Beachwood for sale.

You can see the letter after the jump.


John Muller, Mayor    
City of Half Moon Bay City Council
501 Main Street
Half Moon Bay, California 94019   July 20, 2009
Re: Beachwood Wetlands

Dear Mayor Muller:

The purpose of this letter is to seek clarification regarding your unfortunate comments broadcast in various news outlets last week in which you disparage wetlands, natural resources and your own past planning history and environmental policies covering the Beachwood property.

As quoted by Julia Scott of the Bay Area News Group, in a story entitled "Half Moon Bay Begins Bond Sale to Solve $18m Debt to Developer" you are referenced as saying that the City intends to clear natural vegetation along property edges as well as drain new wetlands and erect new boundary fortifications in an attempt to restrict public access and sell Beachwood for future development.  Worse, you call your own existing policies ‘arbitrary’ and ‘outrageous.’

We hope you have been misquoted.  We trust you will clarify that natural resources and wetlands at Beachwood have been long studied and well established and are protected by existing law.  We assume you realize that any work proposed by the City, or any other owner of Beachwood must occur as a result of sound, sufficient biological analysis and lawfully issued coastal development permits (CDPs) consistent with past planning efforts of both the City and the California Coastal Commission and allowable under the California Coastal Act.

We also hope the City will rethink statements attributed to your City Manager, Michael Dolder, who is quoted saying the City is seeking to ‘repackage’ the proposed wetlands park for sale to a developer for the highest price possible.  For the many state elected officials and coastal activists throughout California who had been assisting the City in working to achieve a coastal wetlands park and open space area at Beachwood, those statements and recent bluster by you and the City to pursue drainage of wetlands and destruction of natural resources at the site would be considered offensive and counterproductive. 

Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.

Mark A. Massara, Director
Sierra Club Coastal Programs
cc: Marina Fraser, Councilmember
Jim Grady, Councilmember
Bonnie McClung, Councilmember
Naomi Patridge, Councilmember
Michael Dolder, City Manager

The Latest Old Idea!

Half Moon Bay’s only ethical response now is to develop the Beachwood property into the Beachwood Park not a development! 

The ethical course is now clear: The politicians had the developer, the politicians had the permits, the politicians reneged on the permits, the politicians lost a lawsuit to the developer for reneging and then the politicians then tried to use taxpayer money to pay the lawsuit out of park land money and lost.  The politicians then stuck the city taxpayers with a $18 million bond.

Now the politicians solution - sell Beachwood to a developer in 10 years for $10 million?  Who can trust these politicians?  They are ethically challenged and spent many millions on arriving at this “latest old idea.”

To stop this fiasco, make the property into a public park and vote the current slate of politicians out who like many before them became obstrutionist.  Those current or past politicians an planners that showed more integrity (but didn’t prevail) should be considered for reelection, if they want the responsibility.

This fiasco has been going on for 10-15 years and someting is wrong when so many hometown politicials don’t get it and cost the city taxpayer so much money and then come back up with the “Latest old Idea.”

I saw this here early this morning. I thought about it and decided to just let it go. Then, I saw a thread on TA regarding this letter.
I did post to the TA thread and thought I’d copy it here:
So we now have a letter from the infamous Massara, chiding and just being a jerk; and Parr apparently endorses this? On the bright side, at least Massara is consistent.
Muller owes Massara nothing. The Council owes Massara nothing. HMB owes Massara nothing. In fact, I would propose that Massara, and his band of thugs owes HMB – and this letter simply reinforces that thought.
What arrogance. Who does this gentleman think he is?
I have met with, communicated with &/or dealt with many entities that I would have preferred not to in my life. I have always found the old saying, “you catch more with honey than vinegar” to be true. This tirade from Massara is vinegar; very hard to swallow. It’s hard to have any measure of communication with someone when they send you a letter whipping you like a rented mule and demanding anything – like a misbehaved three year old in a supermarket over a piece of candy.
If, for example, Massara (or someone more reasonable from his club sierra clan) would have sent a professionally written letter, demonstrating concerns and concluding with an offer to meet over lunch (he’s buying) to discuss possible alternatives of pursuit regarding the Beachwood property, I would view that as an open slate and an opportunity. Massara chose not to approach it that way.
Based on the history of that property and the posture taken by his clan (Massara), I see no reason for Muller, or any other City representative, to even acknowledge receipt. Were I to receive a letter like that from an outsider that has clearly shown arrogance and animosity toward current leadership, Massara would not be pleased with my response.
You know, we talk about the political chasm here in HMB all the time. The divide is clear and wide. It has not gotten any better over time; in fact, I believe it’s gotten worse.
Now I ask; does this letter from Massara help close that divide, or substantiate it?
Like most, I don’t like being attacked. I find that when I am, I want to respond in kind. I’d say that’s ‘normal’.
This letter, from a paid legal representative of the non-profit Sierra Club, is just gas on the fire. It is completely lacking in professionalism and character and is what we’ve come to expect from Massara and crew.
On the ‘other’ local site, Parr has written a piece around this letter. It is this type of ‘journalism’ that demonstrates the virtues of Parr’s critics, as he saw fit to prominently place it and provide his two cents too. Parr opens the thread with, “Lines are already being drawn in the next big battle over Beachwood,” and pontificates from there.
Now I ask you, is this anyway to resolve an issue? Is it even a good start? Who is this guy, again?

The people George Muteff calls “thugs” defeated Half Moon Bay’s effort to undermine our environmental protections—even though they were outmanned and outgunned by the million dollars the city spent on lawyers and lobbyists. Speaking of thugs, HMB’s team included Lanny Davis, a man who recently sold himself in service to a coup against a democratically elected government.

All the “thugs” are saying is that if the city doesn’t follow the law in developing Beachwood is that they will have a fight on their hands.

Who could argue with that?

As to whether the Sierra Club should have reasoned with the city instead, let’s remember that the city didn’t try talk to the environmentalists (or anyone else) when they came up with their plan to pave a wetland.

The incident Barry Parr calls a “coup” really wasn’t a coup. Lanny Davis is representing those that impeached, convicted and properly removed Zelaya. They then replaced him with a member of the same political party. Nothing like what one normally thinks of as a [military] coup, and least not in the sense of Argentina’s “dirty war.”

Now Barry, stop making me defend Lanny Davis!

I’m not going to contest it, because it’s off-topic, but I stand my characterization of Zelaya’s removal as a coup. And my implied characterization of Lanny Davis as a scoundrel and a carpetbagger.

George, care to comment on the article itself?

City staff members are drawing up a to-do list to keep Beachwood in the best shape to sell someday, according to Muller. The first order of business will be to create a 30-foot fire break to safeguard an adjacent subdivision; the scrubland at Beachwood is several feet high. The city will drain certain areas of the property to keep new wetlands from forming, and officials possibly will erect a fence around it. Next, the property will be appraised.

Would clarification on the stated intentions not be worthwhile?
- making a 30-foot firebreak in an area with documented wetlands
- draining areas areas with documented wetlands
- erecting a fence

Wouldn’t those activities need to go through the normal permitting process?  It may just be that the wording of the article made it sound as if the city would act unilaterally without permitting, but after all that the city’s been through, that would just compound an already difficult situation.  It would seem unlikely, but the article sure left that impression, wouldn’t you agree?

Scott, you are asking me to comment on part of an article that Julia Scott wrote, which is a separate issue from my comments above, and off topic. With that distinction made, and recognizing that we are now going off topic, I’ll try to address your request.
You have quoted a segment of the article that quotes no one, but rather is Julia Scott’s “interpretation” of the topic she writes about, based (I believe) on whatever input she has received.
She’s been following Beachwood since before the Judgment. In fact, she’s been aware of Beachwood since shortly after she started reporting for the San Mateo Journal (if memory serves) back in 2005. I remember, for example, her ‘interviewing’ me during my Council run four years ago. She had just started and was not intimate with issues like the LCP Update, or Beachwood. She certainly should be now, and I believe she is.
That said, however, I will generally find a few lines from any story she writes on Beachwood that are not quite accurate or consistent. They are, in the scope of things, not critical however.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that she is a reporter. She is not an elected official; not here in HMB, or anywhere else that I’m aware of. She does not live here. She is not an appointed representative on any committee or appointed body here on the coast. She is also human and as such prone to imperfection (as we all are).
So Scott, what you’re really asking from me is to comment on what a reporter has surmised based on information that she has received – from a plethora of sources; none of which we witnessed or heard.
That’s a tough nut, Scott. On top of that, Massara has created and sent a poorly written, argumentative and arrogant document to our Mayor, cc’ing all sitting Council members, based, it would appear, on the piece Julia Scott wrote.
It seems to me that if Massara had just one professional bone in his body, he would have done a little background research before engaging his mouth and keyboard. The tone and tenor of his comments suck.
One would think that an organization as big and powerful as the Sierra Club would demonstrate a stronger concern on who represents them and how they are being represented. I would equate Massara with what’s left in the kitty litter box after the visit from the cat. What the Sierra Club should have for good representation is – the cat. That tells me, and everyone else, about the character of the Sierra Club.
Not too far in the past (a couple of months), Tony Condotti, HMB’s hired legal representative, gave a very good presentation on wetlands, definitions, interpretations, buffers, and more. It was, without a doubt, the most comprehensive effort I’ve seen from the City in well over five years. In fact, I can’t recall that much effort on this topic since 2000, when that Council denied the Beachwood CDP. I mention this because Condotti discussed, in detail, his findings and interpretations. He spent a great deal of time on buffers, which is what you may be referring to with the three dashed points you delineate.
I might suggest to you, and anyone else interested (which Should include Massara), that you march on down to City Hall (might want to call 1st) and get a copy of Condotti’s presentation. There were some available that night.
With that in hand, and read, you will have a much more comprehensive understanding of the City’s position. I suspect that Condotti’s presentation, coupled with actual comments from City officials, will afford all the “clarification” you seek. I would also strongly encourage your boy Massara to get a copy and read it before he writes anymore letters that are sure to make him look like a bigger fool than he has already managed to do. It’s called homework. After making his way through school, college, law school and the BAR Exam, one would think that Massara should have a handle on that word – homework. I see no evidence of that in his letter.
I hope I’ve addressed your concerns, and that you find this input helpful.

In your response, George, you have lots of words denigrating people (Julia Scott and Mark Massara), and not one word of response to the actual subject – the reported intentions of the City.  That was the topic of Julia’s article, and Mark’s letter questioned the reported intentions.

You might not like what Julia reported.  You dislike Mark and his letter.  But what of the City’s priorities for the property?  Did the mayor make the remarks in the context reported? or did the reporter misconstrue?

Your response doesn’t clear up whether you feel it’s worthwhile to determine whether the reporter got it right in leaving the impression that the City might have designs on bypassing the law.

The lawyer’s presentation on wetlands notwithstanding, he doesn’t set policy for the City, nor does he provide direction to staff on clearing brush, draining land, etc…  Policy comes from the City Council and the City Manager.  Their comments are what the article was about.

Either I didn’t write as clearly as I should have, or you have misinterpreted what I said (or a little of both).
So that we’re clear, I have no intention of a back and forth on this. There is no reason. You politely asked questions of me, and I did my best to respond in kind.
I did not “denigrate[ing] people” as you state; only Massara, and only really to the degree of identifying and accenting what he’s done to himself.
Whether I “like” what Julia Scott reported or not is irrelevant, and I don’t believe I offered a like or dislike. That was certainly not my intention. I thought my comments were pretty clear.
Further, Scott, I would have thought that my suggestions would have pointed you and Massara in the correct direction.
Why are you wasting your time with me? You ask questions of me that would have me speculate. I won’t do that.
IF you truly want to know “But what of the City’s priorities for the property?” - then ask the City. I think that’s a big part of the whole point; don’t you?
You state, “Your response doesn’t clear up whether you feel it’s worthwhile to determine whether the reporter got it right in leaving the impression that the City might have designs on bypassing the law.”
I have no intention of “determining whether the reporter got it right” or not. Chase your own tail if you like; I don’t have the time.
The point is not whether Julia Scott “got it right” or not. The point is Massara did not.
Finally, I disagree with your final paragraph as well.
The City Attorney does not set Policy; that I agree with. BUT, he has a very strong hand in Policy, whether setting or sharing his expert opinions regarding such. Policy is set by the Council WITH the City Attorney’s input, direction, opinions and guidance.
The City Manager and the City Attorney are the two most critical positions on City Staff, and rightfully so. Don’t think, even for a moment, that those two individuals in those two positions aren’t extremely active and concerned with the City’s position &/or posture. Further, their expertise, opinions and thoughts are expected and sought after by the Council prior to the setting of Policy &/or the correct interpretation of existing Policy.
I think most reasonable people will find my prior comments sufficient and clear. Massara’s nasty letter, as I stated above, appears based on the piece Julia Scott wrote. That was probably his first mistake.
Now, if you’d care to continue this, you may want to get up to speed with accurate and complete data. I’ve already provided the source. Ball’s in your court, and I’m out of time on this.
Btw Scott, did you draw short straw? Oh, and maybe it’s just me, but I notice a decided change in your tone from your first post to your last. I prefer civility, but will respond in kind if necessary.

George, in looking past your attack-the-messenger comments about Mark and Julia (yes, as polite-sounding as your words were, you still strongly suggested that she got it wrong), perhaps you can point out at least one thing wrong in the article.

As to asking you to speculate, no, that’s not what “Wouldn’t those activities need to go through the normal permitting process?” asks for.

Any chance you might comment on the substance of the article?

I’m sure Mr. Condotti has well-reasoned and expert opinions on wetlands. I’m sure that the Sierra Club has its own expert opinions. If they differ, there may be only one way to find out who’s right.

It’s clear that the city already has an adversarial relationship with the Sierra Club, and that the city has never included members of the public in its plans for Beachwood. Failure to include the public and the environmental community led directly to the AB1991 fiasco.

Under the circumstances, I think it’s not unreasonable for the Sierra Club to publicly remind the city that it’s always easier to follow the law.

My question for George is: “Why is it appropriate for Chop Keenan to take the city to court for decreasing the value of his property, but would be inappropriate for the Sierra Club to take the city to court if it believes the city is breaking the law? Is private property more sacred than the law?”

Why is it that I’m starting to feel like I’m sitting in the office of a sales associate at a used car dealership, with the saleman and the sales manager telling me she’s a beauty and that for a few dollars more p/month I can upgrade the carpet and stereo?
I thought I was clear in everything I wrote. I also thought I was clear that I have no intention of a back and forth. In addition, I thought I was clear that I don’t have the time or interest in off topic ‘bantor’.
I’ve said what I’ve said. It’s there for all to see.
I believe I’ve addressed every point I wanted to, and correctly framed and answered the additional ones posed.
You guys can do the back and forth thing and take it wherever you like. I have other things to do.

One of my goals at Coastsider is to promote the discussion of local issues.

I don’t post anything that I can’t defend and I hope anybody posting here feel the same way.

So I’m surprised you’d come over here, call someone a “thug” and “what’s left in the kitty litter box after the visit from the cat” and not be prepared to support your thesis, if it could be called that.

HMB and Beachood Property is no Longer a Local Issue:

Perhaps interlopers have a right to make their feelings known about HMB and its Chop Keenan fiasco since the city asked for state assistance (statewide taxpayer money) in settling the lawsuit using public funds that were not earmarked for settling an $18 million. AB 1991, AB/SB 659 by Mullin, Hill and Yee. 

Maybe the interlopers see through HMB’s attempt to sell a the developer down the river to make Beachwood Park and now the council wants to sell the property to another developer when they had a perfectly good on in Chop Keenan.

It is clear that HMB invited oversight by their council, planning commission and city staff is of questionable character and ethically challenged by manipulation in name of a public good.  I just haven’t determined what the pubic good is, but HMB residents better figure it out fast and vote their conscious and hold the City Council accountable.

Since money is paid to ABAG, buy many local governments to pay for insurance among other dues and the local issues are no longer local; we all of us have a stake in what goes on in HMB. ABAG payed out around $5 million in insurance to pay for attorney fees and/or money to Keenan amounting to at least $18 million and still counting passed an eventual $30 million with the issue of bonds!

Perhaps George needs to be reminded that we have an HMB City Council majority that has shown complete contempt for the Coastal Act (AB 1991, Lanny Davis, Truth Squad, etc.)

Nobody should be surprised that those same people (Patridge, Muller, McClung & Fraser) have assigned their hired gun ex-CCWD lawyer Anthony Condotti (the current City Attorney) to try to poke some new holes in the City’s LCP definition of wetlands.

Mark Massara is simply pointing out what everybody already knows: if the Old Guard City Council majority trys to pull another end run around the Coastal Act, then they are going to have another big fight on their hands. Just like AB 1991.

You might have thought that Patridge & Co. would have learned something by now, but no. Now I hear that Patridge is getting set to run for another 4-year term.  How many years would that make for her on the City Council? Is it more than 20?

Term limits are the only thing that can save HMB from these entrenched, backroom-dealing politicians.

I’m still waiting for Muteff to answer Boyd’s rather straightforward questions on the actual content of the article. Boyd even makes the effort to bring the focus back to the fundamentals after Muteff wanders off into his individual guesses and musings on personalities and abilities a couple of times, but to no avail. Probably a lost cause at this stage of what has become a non-discussion because some won’t address the topic(s).

Isn’t it true that it has already been decided in court that this property doesn’t have wetlands? That in fact the water there was caused by storm drains installed by HMB on bordering property, and grading work that was done in the area? I thought that was the reason HMB lost the recent lawsuit the developer filed. The Sierra Club letter says they have been long studied and well established. It’s confusing to say the least. I found this newspaper article that seems to say there never were wetlands there.

“Although the case has a factual and procedural history of herculean proportion, Chief Judge Walker made one crucial finding which closed the door on Half Moon Bay. Chief Judge Walker concluded that Half Moon Bay had caused the formation of wetlands on the 24-acre parcel as a result of the installation of storm drains in the 1980s. Prior to the installation of the storm drains, there were no documented wetlands on the parcel, known as Beachwood. The storm drain project “completely changed the topography” on Beachwood, resulting in a parcel of land that now resembles an elongated bathtub, Chief Judge Walker also found that Half Moon Bay’s maintenance plan for the storm drains was nonexistent. Indeed, Half Moon Bay’s maintenance supervisor testified that he was “not aware of any maintenance the City has ever done to any storm drain system on Beachwood.’” In one instance when Beachwood’s owner attempted self-help maintenance, Half Moon Bay called the police and other state and federal agencies to put a stop to it. In another instance, Half Moon Bay denied the owner permission to regrade a portion of Beachwood to fill in low spots created by Half Moon Bay’s own storm drain project.”

Has this ruling been declared invalid, or are there other wetlands there?

I think that HMB created the wetlands by their poor or intentional engineering.  I think it was intentional or they would have corrected the engineering..  It was special interest all along and probably criminal becuse it was intentional.  Some one got a pay off if only a psychic payoff.  Who those people are can only be speculative.  They should be prosecuted as being on the take if there is any truth in this speculation.  The consequences were not unexpected.

A few felony convictions would decimate the some on the city council, commission and HMB civil servants.  Of course, you can bet there are layers of beauracacy that will offer plausible denial -  we didn’t know a thing or the consequences until after the fact.

The council and HMB and outside special interests will never be held accountabile.

Jack’s pretty much correct. If there weren’t wetlands, Keenan could have built would have needed to sue.

However, there have actually always been wetlands on the site. HMB mayor John Muller testified that the property was wet long before the 80s, so he’s on the record in this matter.  The drainage system that “created” the wetlands was set up originally (and ironically) to drain those very wetlands.

“...Prior to the installation of the storm drains, there were no documented wetlands on the parcel, known as Beachwood. The storm drain project “completely changed the topography” on Beachwood, resulting in a parcel of land that now resembles an elongated bathtub…”

What does it mean to say (as Judge Walker did) that there were no “documented” wetlands on Beachwood prior to installation of the storm drains?

Well, that just means that prior to the Beachwood development application, nobody every did a “documented” biological study of the land because there was never any reason to do so.

Is a parcel that sits at the base of a coastal mountain range (thereby channeling water runoff from the hills to ocean) likely to contain wetlands?

It doesn’t take a biology degree to figure out that Beachwood was probably always wet. But since nobody ever did a biological study of Beachwood say way back in the year 1980, then Walker automatically presumes that Beachwood was dry prior to the City’s botched drainage project. This dumb logic is why HMB is now paying Keenan $18 million.

Following Kevin’s point, anyone care to wonder why the eastern part of the property was long referred to by locals as “Hog Wallow”?

As to the press, the best editorial comment and investigative reportage regarding the Beachwood decision were in the May, 2008, issue of California Lawyer Magazine.

On the other hand, the Chronicle’s coverage was not well researched and misstated key elements of the decision.  Its editorial was so wrongheaded it must have been written by Debra Saunders.

Regarding the Chron’s editorial, it’s important to remember that the Hearst family, which owns the Chronicle, also owns a lot of coastal land in California and has plenty of business before the Coastal Commission.

While I believe the Chron’s newsroom is reasonably independent, the editorial page of any newspaper is always the owner’s voice and can be expected to speak on behalf of its owners’ interests.

So with millions of dollars at stake, the city found only one person able to testify as to the wetlands, while all of the topographical maps that were available to use show a completely different conclusion. I guess there is no wonder as to why HMB lost that lawsuit. So, back to the original question, what wetlands are the Sierra Club referring to in regards to the letter they sent? Are they going to attempt, once again to show natural wetlands on this property, or are they going to try to protect the “wetlands” that were ruled to have been created by the City of HMB’s own ignorance and stupidity? Will this once again result in more delays as the City attempts to deal with this mess? Does the Sierra Club have evidence of wetlands that no one else is aware of? Will all involved simply bury thier heads in the sand and take absolutely no accountability until there is no other choice except lawsuits to settle the matter? I’m putting my money on more lawsuits and more millions of dollars wasted.

“Is a parcel that sits at the base of a coastal mountain range (thereby channeling water runoff from the hills to ocean) likely to contain wetlands?”

Well, not if the entire property drains downhill with no depressions (other than grading done by HMB for streets), as evidenced by topographical maps. I live by Montara Mountain, and with all of the water that runs down that watershed, I am unaware of any wetlands there. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any, just that I’m not aware of any. There is a huge difference between “being wet” and wetlands. My backyard gets “wet”, but as far as I can tell, no wetlands. The entire argument as to the property containing wetlands is questionable at best, considering all of the evidence. That of course is only my opinion, as I do not have a biology degree. I do know that water, along with BS, both run downhill. By the way, I’m no big fan of them building houses, but calling something wetlands doesn’t make it so, as evidenced by the millions of dollars HMB has lost on this seemingly lost cause. I don’t think Judge Walker automatically presumed anything, I think he looked at all of the evidence at hand and made his ruling. I read up on his decision, and I have to say, I agree with the judge that all of the available evidence points toward the fact that the city and there grading caused it. The fact that they kept paying for studies until they found some one that agreed with them, certainly is questionable, and extremely expensive.

It’s important to recognize that the Coastal Commission protects all wetlands, even those that are degraded or created by development activity.

It’s also important to recognize that wetlands within the Coastal Zone are defined differently than those elsewhere in the state. Although the Army Corps of Engineers requires the presence of hydrophytic plants, hydric soils and wet conditions to establish a jurisdictional wetland, the presence of only one of those 3 indicators is adequate to establish a wetland within the Coastal Zone.

I believe the looser definition used by the CCC is a measure of the importance of wetlands to the health of the coastal ecosystem.

Unless there was a natural basin to create a wetlands in the topography at the Beachwood property, I suspect the wetlands was man made - considing the slope of the land from the foothills to the sea, the natural runoff was to the sea or absorbed into the groundwater. 

Probably the coastal highway and residential developments on the east and west side of the highway helped to create an artificial wetlands.  I bet the other developments north and south created an artifical barrier divering water onto Beachwood including some back water from the west side develpments and barriers backups allowing water to seek its own level.

Correct that water problem with appropriate drainage and keep it cleaned of debris. After all, the water runs off the cliff and the cliff holds back the sea!

It depends on the local topography, of course.

There are wetlands in the open space in the shadow of Montara Mountain, just east of Hwy 1 and north of 1st Street.

Caltrans is in the process of restoring some wetlands that were probably filled when the railroad was built in that area, and there are plenty of wetlands that have pretty much always been there.

The Beachwood area is flat and may even be a little lower than the coastal bluffs to the west, so it’s not surprising that there would be wetlands there.

Finally, the city isn’t and never has disputed the existence of wetlands at Beachwood as far as I know. They have disputed their origin, and they’re now rethinking what the buffer should be.

I thought the wetlands in Montara were being built by Caltrans to mitigate damage from the tunnel, but I reread the article and apparently there were wetlands there at some point, and now water is trucked from Pacifica to keep this area wet.
So now if HMB digs holes on every piece of open land, and they fill with water, the City will have all kinds of “wetlands”, and the Coastal Comission will protect them all. I’m not sure I think the reason is a measure of the importance of wetlands, being as the CCC is so anti development. I’m not saying wetlands aren’t important, but if I dig a hole in my backyard, as a “development activity” for my garden, and it fills with water, and plants grow around it, do I have wetlands on my property?
Should I be putting the orange netting around these “critical habitat” areas? Only government agencies could come up with these convoluted arcane rules.

Rick Nelson—If HMB wants to dig holes on open land, they’ll first need to apply for a CDP. The presence of wetlands is established before those holes are dug. If any are found, the permit to dig the holes will be conditioned to protect those wetlands. Unless the purpose of digging holes around town is to build constructed wetlands, filling the holes with water after the CDP is issued doesn’t make them a wetland under the CCC’s jurisdiction.

The key is to determine the existence of wetlands BEFORE development begins.

Mr. Droullard, I read the definition of wetlands according to the CCC (see below), and can find nowhere that says if the activity that caused the “wetlands” is illegal or done before wetlands are established, that it makes any difference. It’s kind of hard to read, of course, but from what I see, if I go to the empty lot behind my house, dig a hole, and keep watering it until “natural vegetation” grows there, or even just plant said vegetation myself, it will be a “wetland”. I could also seemingly do this to any piece of property under CCC “control”, and once there is water with natural vegetation, bingo wetlands. Now, it does say under “normal circumstances”, however if HMB diverting water onto a parcel is a “normal circumstance”, who’s to say me spraying water over my fence isn’t a “normal circumstance”, especially if I do it every day. Is there any one who can argue that the grading done and storm drains installed by the city of HMB were “normal circumstances”? Of course, all of this would have to be settled in court, which brings me back to my original concern, that now the Sierra Club is involved, you can bet yer bippy that more lawsuits will follow. It may seem that the Beachwood parcel is “flat”, however the topographical maps show it is “gently sloping”, which would , of course, mean the water would drain in a “normal circumstance”, i.e. if dirt hadn’t been piled to stop the flow of water, and storm drains installed above the previous ground level. I hate tax dollars being wasted, as all of the millions spent so far could go towards bussing problems and other needed resources on the Coast. As usual, the lawyers will continue to get richer, and the city will suffer. When I see money wasted like this, I have a hard time voting to tax my parcel of land even more to provide for services when so much money is already needlessly wasted on matters such as this.

a. Definition: The ACOE (Federal Register, Section 328.3(b), 1991) and the EPA (Federal Register, Section 230.4(t), 1991) jointly define wetlands as: Those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.

Just to be clear, I am not a pro-growth fanatic, and actually I owe a huge thank you to each and every person that fought for the Devil’s Slide tunnel long before I moved to Montara. Instead of the freeway that was going to go over Montara Mountain, every time I look out my window and see the unspoiled mountain, or stand on my deck and hear the ocean, I know that without the hard work of these people I would see and hear a freeway. I don’t know about every one else, but I feel very lucky and blessed to live in such a beautiful area, and want to say thank you to all that have fought the good fight to keep it this way. Your hard work and commitment to a wonderful cause are never taken for granted by me.

Rick Nelson—You’re making absurd assumptions and misreading the Coastal Act in order to make the case that the CCC will seize control of your property because they will determine that your garden is a wetland.

If HMB tries to develop the Beachwood parcel in a manner consistent with the Coastal Act, they won’t have to worry about Mark Massara or the Sierra Club.

Also, you keep referring to topo maps. Although they might provide some guidance for determining if some areas might be wetlands, they are not a reliable or adequate indicator of same. For example, I have coastal property on a south facing slope with grades that vary from 10 to 17 percent, yet much of that parcel is covered with wetlands. The source of the water is seepage springs and the soil texture has enough clays in it to stifle natural drainage. As a result, I have hydric soils as well as wet conditions for 8 to 10 months a year. Where there aren’t large trees, I also have hydrophytic plants.

So, some of those areas would meet the definition of a Army Corps of Engineers jurisdictional wetlands, and all of those areas meet the definition of wetlands used by the CCC.

And none of it will matter until I try to develop the property. When that occurs, the CCC will want to make sure that my development doesn’t adversely impact those wetlands.

Now, if those wetlands were created by my neighbor’s development activity, and that activity deprived me the use of my land, I have recourse against my neighbor, not the CCC.

Comment 33
Thu, August 6, 2009 11:33am
Carl May
All my comments

All that is needed for a wetland is the presence of enough water to saturate the land for at least a portion of the year. Wetlands do not require depressions in the surface—they can occur on hillsides with an adequate water source.

Memories are short. The drainage project for Beachwood, which disrupted Highway 1 for a number of days, was originally undertaken by the city to aid development of the property. Never should have been done with taxpayer dollars, but that has never stopped the government of Half Moon Bay from being a tool for developers. Just look at past developers on the City Council or prominent in the C of C who split town as soon as their development goals were achieved.

Well Mr. Drouillard (sorry about misspelling your name the first time) you can feel free to ridicule my “absurd assumptions”, I am not worried about your opinion, they are like you know what’s, every one has one, they all stink. I am not worried about any one siezing my property. The point I tried to make is that these rules are hazy at best. The reason I refer to topo maps, is because that was the evidence cited by the judge that cost HMB millions of dollars, irregardless of what is on your property. If topo maps are irrelevent, why didn’t the city’s lawyers, or any one else point that out to the judge? I am trying to figure out why no one produced any evidence to rebut the evidence the plaintiff produced that said there were no wetlands, other than one former mayor that the judge seemingly didn’t believe. Why with millions at stake are there no other people aware or willing to testify that there were wetlands? It seems the same logic will be used to further hinder any one developing this land, which will mean HMB will get none of the millions they lost back. Once again, it seems highly unlikely that before the city diverted water onto this property there were any wetlands, and I find it difficult to believe that the city’s actions did not cause the mess, therefore it is not a “normal circumstance”. If you want to argue that point, fine, I think you are making absurd assumptions to think that the city’s actions didn’t cause this mess. You are the one that pointed out that the CCC protects any wetlands regardless of how they were formed, which I didn’t know. I was trying to point out that it seems absurd to me to do that, although it surely would not be the only absurd law ever passed. All of the absurdity of the entire situation is why HMB is now in millions of dollars of debt, a fact that no one seems to care about, as long as no houses get built. I am all for protecting wetlands that are not formed by idiots doing idiotic things, but this entire thing reeks of stupidity and ignorance, and has now wasted millions of taxpayer dollars, a point I don’t think any one can argue about.

Following is an excerpt from the Editor’s introduction in the May issue of California Lawyer magazine:

“However, the longer David P. Hamilton, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, worked on this story for us, the more troubled he became with Judge Walker’s ruling. “My experience is that when you come across a judge’s opinion as strongly worded as Judge Walker’s was, you naturally assume that the offending party was caught dead to rights. But as I dug deeper, I realized there was a fair amount of contradictory evidence that either didn’t make it into his ruling, or was dismissed out of hand.”

I hope the City the day they take title to Beachwood start prepping it for sale by discing the property so prospective buyers can walk it.  They should do exactly what POST continues to do to the N Wavecrest property they bought a few years ago. 

Also this way everyone can see what all the fuss was over and the few patches of wetland weeds that will cost HMB over $40 million after we pay off the debt from the bond.

What an incredible waste of our money.  Let’s hope we have learned a valuable lesson in how costly lawsuits can be to our financial health.  Although judging from many of the comments above,  it seems this sad saga just won’t go away. Very sad, very destructive.

I do hope the residents of HMB vote in people who see things differently.

P.O.S.T. has not disced any portion of the Wavecrest property since taking ownership. They have only harvested hay from the parcel that had been disced and planted by the prior owner. The introduction of a false implication is disinformative.

Well, when David P. Hamilton feels strongly enough to put up $40 million and appeal the decision, I will pay attention to him. Until then, we all might as well get used to forking over a huge sum of money for no good reason at all, unless there is some one who thinks that was a good use of the money.

I don’t think Half Moon Bay should “get used to forking over a huge sum of money” when an appeal would have resulted in zero sum of money. The case wasn’t appealed for ideological reasons.The City’s attorneys recommended appeal but the Council declared that “settlement is first priority.
Bad decision.
Poor negotiation.
Worse settlement.
The people of Half Moon Bay are paying millions for nothing more than than a political pinata.

I don’t know what you mean by “an appeal would have resulted in a zero sum of money”. Are you saying you know how an appeal would have turned out? Why wouldn’t the city attorney say that when he just lost a case and won’t have to pay a penny either way? I was under the impression that the taxpayers are paying for the fact that the city
decreased the value of the plaintiffs property by having water drain onto it, thus “making wetlands” where there were none.

Discing, harvesting, mowing, its all the same.  What this cleared field shows is how small those sensitive wetland weed areas are.  Its truly an outrage to think a small group of people held the community hostage depriving us of a new school and a Boys & Girls Club for nothing. 

I can’t wait to see Beachwood cleared.  It too will show how a small group of people have blown this wetland weed thing out of proportion. Big difference between Beachwood and N Wavecrest is the staggering amount of money this foolish lawsuit cost us and how we will suffer for the next 30 years. This should have been settled 10-15 years ago.

Obviously Steve doesn’t know much about farming - “Discing, harvesting, mowing, its all the same.”

Time to farm for a living or go to th market and consider the practices of the farm products that created the basis of your dinner.  Your dinner may never be the same again. 

It is certain, HMB will not be proud of its past politicians for a long time and will curse the day their taxes come due for an unnecessary lawsuit.  I guess they too couldn’t tell the difference between “discing,
harvesting, mowing, its all the same,” but they sure got to know a lot about natural and artificial irrigation.

Steve writes:

Its truly an outrage to think a small group of people held the community hostage depriving us of a new school and a Boys & Girls Club for nothing.

By “small group of people”, you must mean the US Army Corps of Engineers, which stopped the building of Wavecrest.

And in case you haven’t noticed, we have our new school. It’s not as nice as it could be, because our school board wasted ten years and millions of dollars not building anything.

Please try to stay on topic. I’d prefer not to refight Wavecrest, but I won’t stand by and let you propagate myths.

My point in mentioning Wavecrest was to show how small the patches of weeds look among all that land.  When we clean up Beachwood,  it will be the same thing. Then everyone can see what this fight was really about. $40 million to protect a few patches of man made wetland weeds. That’s why people are really angry.

What they should be angry about is the City’s failure to appeal a grotesque decision by the most overturned judge on the Ninth Circuit.

What people are angry about is all this wasted money on endless lawsuits. Nothing gets done here and everybody suffers.  Beachwood should have been settled 10,15, 20 years ago. 

And just as we are trying to close the book on this long running expensive nightmare,  here come more threats of new lawsuits.  Many people want our money to go for positive things, not lining the pockets of lawyers. We just deeded back the 92 Park we bought cause we are broke and need to pay for losing a lawsuit we should have settled.

Going into the tank for $18 million - when they should have appealed it down to nothing - does not discourage lawsuits, it encourages lawsuits. The city now wears a target.

Mike the City was wrong here from the start by illegally dumping water on private property without permission. We also need to stop beating the appeal dead horse.  That decision was made and we need to deal with how to pay for the damage we did. Since some fought the State trying to help us were blocked, we had to borrow money.

The lesson that should be learned here is that lawsuits don’t work and can be ruinous if you loose.  The sad reality is that we are a little town with very limited resources and are not a match both financially and in talent against the likes of these smart deep pocketed developers.

This was obvious to many years ago.  Its unfortunate that others needed a $40 million beating to comprehend that.  Hard to believe that a few still don’t see the dangerous flaws of keep trying a losing strategy.

Our town has squandered untold millions on wasteful litigation that produced nothing of benefit.  Just think that money that went to lawyers could have paid for the park on HWY 92.  Instead we had to do basically a deed in lieu of foreclosure so we could pay for Beachwood.

I know we will never agree on this but my views have been proven right.  Hopefully the City will start adopting more concilatory policies so this sad event will never be repeated.  I kind of think it will anyway because we don’t have the money to fight another battle since we have this 30 year million dollar bond payment and limited funds.

Rick Nelson—No offense taken, and no ridicule intended in my previous post.

I don’t know why HMB handled the wetlands or the lawsuit the way that they did, or why they gave up their right to appeal a flawed decision by Judge Walker. Those are questions you should ask the city council. You should note, however, you that both the AG and the CCC were willing to join the city in an appeal of that decision.

You can’t blame the definition of wetlands used within the Coastal Zone for the numerous blunders made by the City of HMB that resulted in the $18 million judgement.

The wetlands definition used by the CCC is less vague than that used by the Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a definition that is clear and can be easily be applied witin the numerous unique ecosystems up and down the coast. Admittedly, mapping the extent of those wetlands can be dicey, which is why a specialist is often necessary for their delineation.

Many coastal property owners object to the additional cost such consultation imposes on their development plans, but that’s the price you have to pay for living within the Coastal Zone.

An alternative would be to have the CCC (or LCP administrators) map all wetlands within their jurisdiction and pass the cost onto everyone, including those that don’t benefit from the development. Aside from being unfair for taxpayers, it’s also terribly inefficient. You would have to map all wetlands, not just those where development is proposed. And you’d have to gain permission from landowners to perform the site visits and soil sampling needed to evaluate the site and delineate the wetlands.

In my view, it’s much better to require those benefitting from the development to pay the cost of the studies needed to assess and approve that development.

Again, the $18 million settlement against the City of HMB wasn’t caused by a vague definition of wetlands used by the CCC. In fact, the CDP application process is well-suited for establishing the presence and extent of wetlands.

It’s when one rejects or attempts to circumvent that process that they get into trouble and give lawyers a seat at the table.

The faulty premise that the city illegally dumped water on the property is one of many reasons why the city would have prevailed on appeal. There was no “dumping” of water on the property other than nature’s. Ever heard of rain?

Its my understanding that the City ran a drainage pipe from the Highland Park/Terrace Ave neighborhood onto Beachwood.  Are you saying no such pipe was placed there?  And if it was,  did they have the permission from the property owner?

Where I do think the owners were at fault was in that they should have disced, groomed, mowed their property just as the other vacant land owners who own similar sized properties just up the street have and continue to do.

This should be another wake up call to ALL vacant landowners on the coast to keep your property maintained so these pesky wetland weeds can’t grow on your property and create a nightmare for you should you ever want to develop your land.

The drainage pipe conveys water from the property, not to the property. Yes, it was with the consent of the landowner. No, there was no “dumping” of water onto the property.

The bottom line is that the City drained water onto the property and created the wetlands.  We were wrong and had to make right.  Settling this 10-15 years ago was the smart and right thing to do.  Rolling the dice on the legal system shows how badly things can go when you put you’re fate in some other person’s hands. You loose control and now we are paying the results of that poor decision. That decision costs the residents of HMB over $40 million!

Steve says:

The bottom line is that the City drained water onto the property and created the wetlands.

That’s not what Judge Walker’s decision says.  I recommend you download the decision from Coastsider and read it if you’re going to post about what it says.

As to this:

And just as we are trying to close the book on this long running expensive nightmare,  here come more threats of new lawsuits.  Many people want our money to go for positive things, not lining the pockets of lawyers.

You and Mark Massara are in complete agreement. If the city follows the law and doesn’t go all cowboy in trying to maximize development of the property, they won’t have to worry about lawsuits.

The decision states that the city dug trenches, then installed drains higher than the original ground level, then took the dirt from the trenches and piled it in a way that impeded the water draining from the land as it had prior to the work being done, thus forming “wetlands” that were not there prior to the work done. It also states that the TAAD project “totally altered the topography of Beachwood and consequently affected the flow of surface water onto and off the property” (Weirich, 845:12-21.)
Yes Mr. Ferreira, aparently the judge knew what rain was, and also knew that you can alter the natural flow of water that rain produces, as the city did. If you have evidence that shows this to be wrong, I’m sure every one wishes you would have come up with it before the trial ended. I don’t know if altering the flow of water is considered “dumping” water, but whatever it is called, it cost millions.

That last sentence should have said affecting the flow of water, not altering. Whether the city caused more water to flow onto the property doesn’t really seemed to have mattered, the main thing is they affected the flow of water off of the property, thus creating large “puddles” of water that were never there, thus costing millions of taxpayer dollars. Altering, affecting, call it whatever you want, the city created the mess, and now is going to pay dearly for it.

Thanks Rick for spelling things out so clearly. But the real question is where do we go from here.  The City should prep the land for sale and decide whether or not to involve the adjoining parcel they have an option on.

Once its cleared,  everybody will see clearly, just like in N Wavecrest,  what all the fuss was about and then figure out how many homes they can put there.  That will help determine the value.  But the real question in my mind is who is going to want to take on such a project with such a bad reputation and all these troublemakers who will try and make that person’s life miserable.

Life is too short and there are tons of opportunities for people with money and towns actually willing to welcome them with open arms.

I’m confused. On the one hand, Steve says that lawsuits have been a disaster for the community, on the other he says:

The City should prep the land for sale and decide whether or not to involve the adjoining parcel they have an option on.

Once its cleared,  everybody will see clearly, just like in N Wavecrest,  what all the fuss was about and then figure out how many homes they can put there

... suggesting the same disastrous course of action that led to heartache and millions of dollars lost at Wavecrest.

Steve, are you saying the city should proceed without the “sound, suf?cient biological analysis and lawfully issued coastal development permits (CDPs) consistent with past planning efforts of both the City and the California Coastal Commission and allowable under the California Coastal Act.” recommended by Mark Massara?

Simplify this - Beachwood is no longer a housing development property!  That was decided when the HMB council tried to transfer the property as a park and use the money to settle a lawsuit using disingenuous means. 

It is now time to hold HMB’s council feet to the fire and demand they make the property into a park and to complete the park within two years!  They tried to sell statewide taxpayers on it and if they do make it into a park (the state figured out this was a bogus plan & fraudenlent use of public money - something the council does well), they will get the funds from several sources over time - that is the “good faith” effort required now, not finding another developer - you already had that in Chop Keenen who “chopped” HMB down to size because they were not a functional or conciliatory polity.

The Beechwood property adjacent to the “park” can be developed when its time has come!

The City should prep the land for sale. Most likely they should update the extensive reports that have been previously done so they know what they have and can do. they also should clear this parcel to clearly delineate the little patches of our costly wetland weeds.  They can also decide if they want to excercise or extend their option.

The City needs to unload this property to try and pay for several years of the bond debt we will have for 30 years.  I think its foolish to make this a park since that will require sinking more money that we don’t have. Remember we just deeded back another park for the same reason.

If it was up to me,  the for sale sign would go up the we take title and the tractors would be at work clearing that place. The sooner we get rid of this costly nightmare the better.

Oops - HMB needs to reestablish a State ruputation

“Remember we just deeded back another park for the same reason.”  Another “oops” that should give everyone pause who voted in schizophrenic council members who are in over their heads and who can’t fund what they think was the “new” golden opportunity.  If you can’t fund golden opportunities don’t volunteer to accept a property or TAKE a property without really much thought as to consequence decades later.  We have talked for half a decade about the real estate bubble bursting, let along easy credit with not much down or retiring credit debt but the people and their representatives went full speed ahead anyway.

If HMB can’t afford it, why do they continue to take land that they can ill afford and continue to make bad decisions and then coward by returning what they can’t afford?  Anyway, that return had nothing to do with Beachwood; it has everything to do with poor city council and civil service performance.

Let’s reset the record straight!

It is time the city council to stick to the decision to make the Beachwood property into a park and then hang up the rest of the decisions they can’t afford and stop this nonsense.  Break the cycle of bad decisions now or more bad decisions will follow.  HMB will (or has) the reputation throughout the state that the city is being run by special interests on the “psyche” take to build their personal status and resumes and really doesn’t do much for Assembly member Hill or Senate members Yee’s reputation in their district that is much larger than HMB.  You will taint other cities in their districts and tarnish San Mateo County that is quite rich compared to may other counties that are headed by the Democrats.

The state in the future will not underwrite parks for the right reasons or much else if they don’t clean up their local politics!  Even the BOS and ABAG should be leery of anything going on in HMB.  No developer should enter onto the property because HMB politics cannot be rebuilt in a short life - it will take decades to rebuild a consolidated council and a set of commissions that can gain the public trust.

HMB and its current council can start this public trust but that cost is to make Beachwood into a park because that is what the city said to the state was most important to HMB, Trying to convert bad ethics by going for another housing development won’t create “right-minded ethics and right now, that is what needs to happen to HMB. 

Selling to a developer the Beachwood property is looking at a “golden opportunity” through rose colored glasses made for a nearsighted or for a so far sighted city council you will screw the goose that really laid a golden egg.  You need a city council that has 20/20 uncorrected vision.

“Discing, harvesting, mowing, its all the same.”

More of the philosophy that if you don’t know anything about a subject, you can say whatever you wish.

“The state in the future will not underwrite parks for the right reasons or much else if they don’t clean up their local politics!”

Since I have lived on the coastside, an image of a bag filled with settling pond scum would have served as HMB’s logo for all but a few years. But to suggest that the state will be, or even could be, an arbiter of what are and are not clean politics in HMB, or anyplace else, is flight from reality.

HMB doesn’t need another park. We need money and lots of it. We told the State give us money and we’ll put anything there just give us money. Well unfortunately the ill-timed pay raise to the part-time city manager killed that idea. So we don’t owe anybody anything. We paid $18 million on borrowed money for this weed infested turkey and we can do dam well anything we want with it.

I say disc it and sell it any PRAY somebody actually wants to buys it.

Maybe you are right, Carl, but I remind you that a lot of restrictions againt a city run by a minorty power is often restricted by high government - Federal and state - when it comes to earmarks and other means to reduce equal access to funding pet projects.

Michigan and Florida primaries were restricted by the Democrats druing the DNC and a lot of brohaha….

I am sure we can look right into our own state politics - the legislature is primarily Democrats and they hold a lot of strings on what legislation passes ans where funding goes.

As to the state budget, Democrats get a lot of opposition, but this opposition is much different than majority on 1 on other legilation.

So you see, Democrats against Democrats in a converntion fight.

HMB is esentially made up of Democrats.  I envision that some democrats would have voted against AB1991, AB/SB 650. That is one reason it didn’t pass; it was not just the lack of a budget.

Even liberal Democrats are threatening Blue nose Democrats with voting with Republicans when really, ther are moderates in both parties that look toward moderating legislation for a varity of reasons.

So, Carl, I conclude you may be wrong, too.  The best politics is compromise and moderation, not devisivness or being bullheaded!

Of course you don’t need another park or assume reposibility for property that you turn back.

What HMB needs is to credibility, and it doesn’t have much.  I say - go for the park,; it is punishment for trying to stick the state for paying off Chop Keenan in his successful lawsuit in name of having argued falsely “the needed park!” 

That should be the price paid to nail the coffin closed as bogus arguments should not be rewarded.

I fail to see how a fractured account of political party weirdness, no matter what the parties involved, adds anything to my notion that the state government of California is, in general, unfit to serve as an arbiter in cleaning up local politics. Sacramento is a source of irrationality and difficulties for localities, the repeated withdrawal of tax monies from local governments in recent decades playing a big role in this. Make two columns on a piece of paper. On one side list the problems the state is causing or mishandling. On the other side list the problems the state is solving or preventing. See which column fills up first.

No one can make a decent claim that California is, today, governable for the benefit of its people and the environment on which they depend for life, itself. In times past, the natural richness of the state accommodated a lot of mindless, destructive gluttony. But we are now out of easily discovered and exploited resources of any significant magnitude. And past mistakes with natural resources makes our state sustain a human population of the size it once could. The capability of California, the place, to support our human needs diminishes as we increase what is needed by our runaway population.

In the creeping near-Armageddon of resource decline, the only contrary possibilities, the only situations in which the domineering trend can possibly be bucked at this time, are local ones. Communities and local governments that can gain some degree of control over themselves and the essentials on which they depend before all hope for sustainability is lost have a chance to regulate “population, resources, and environment” in ways that can foster healthier and more prosperous futures for their citizens. Not many will (with modern mass media, social brainwashing is just as prevalent in small communities as anywhere else), but the possibilities are there in some less wrecked places.

At its root, this has nothing to do with political parties or other power-seeking affiliations. Those kinds of associations have long reacted to most real-world issues by whistling past the graveyard. For one example, not a single major political force in California has any intention of dealing with the issue of sustainable population size.

“And past mistakes with natural resources makes our state sustain a human population of the size it once could.”

Sorry, the above sentence should be:

“And past mistakes with natural resources makes our state *unable to* sustain a human population of the size it once could.”

The irrationality is a voter based solution - they voted for the legislature and they determine the tax rate; they also vote on the programs and entitlements while the governor has to tell what them what is needed to mantain the legislative mandates. 

Let the legilature step up and assume their rightful responsibilities instead of shifting blame or surrender their power to the executive branch.  That is what happen in the Federal government and that is what has happened in Sacramento.

If the legislature does its job, we wouldn’t need much in way of propositions and taxation would be on them to fund it adequqtely.

The legislqaature surrendered a long time ago and the Executives said, fine - we’ll do our own thing!  I’d grab all the power I could and keep itr aand let the others play their own game until they com to terms with sharing power.  That means surrending partisanship and embracing negotiation and copmpromise within the means of taxation and not merely mandates - state or federal.

The voters will get it someday!

If ciies want their rightful money back change the law.  That can only be done by the legislature or a favorable ruling for cities and counties by the courts and upheld.

Actually redistribution of the state demographics to other locations within the state would be a solution.  It’s the cost of the distribution system of goods and services and water, etc. that skewls the density problem.

I don’t know about you all out there in California, but I intend to stay.  I like California and much odf the governments there, but if you believe that government is the problem you all can leave for opportunities - there are many elsewhere.

Just what is it about CA that make you stay?  After all, our pioners from the east came here at the resident here can be pioneers and go to Detroit or Chicago or small towns eastward.  That may be the new “old land of milk and honey.”

Really, you are not that jaded… but then again, there is peaceful Costa Rica…!  LOL