Archive for July, 2012
July 6th, 2012
The SLO Planning Dept has come up with a proposed “Green Building Ordinance” which is designed to regulate the amount of water toilets can use, maximum shower flow, require wiring for solar panels, as well as construction waste handling. The whole ordinance is here:
I noticed a section called “Incentives” – so I decided to add my own paragraph to the ordinance. Here it is:
The point of my amendment is to give permit applicants a known deadline for the SLO Planning Dept to actually get their job done by. There is a loophole in the SLO County Ordinances that are currently in effect that allows the Planning Dept to take as long as they like on approving or denying permit applications. My proposed amendment to the proposed Green Ordinance would close this loophole. Still, even with a perfect set of ordinances in place, the prevailing attitude of the Planning Dept staff precludes any real reform from happening. Only a wholesale replacement of the majority of the planning staff would make any real change possible.
I met with my supervisor, Adam Hill, on July 3, 2012. He was very gracious, and he liked my idea in general. He suggested that I also speak with Frank Mecham, the supervisor of District 1. I contacted Frank, and he said he would meet with me, but I haven’t got an appointment to meet with him yet.
July 10th, 2012
Today I received a letter telling that sometime during the three day California Coastal Commission hearing in Santa Cruz CA in August, 2012 I will get a maximum of 10 minutes to argue my vested rights case. And then the Commission will vote. My prediction is that the Coastal Commission will do what the Coastal Commission staff tells them to do – which is to vote against me. However I believe that my legal case is extremely strong, and so this may end up in court. And my prediction is that if I go to court I will ultimately win. And I also predict that it will cost over $400,000 and take several years to win this in court.
July 13th, 2012
On July 13th, 2012 I attended the California Coastal Commission hearing held in Chula Vista, CA. This was the third day of the monthly meeting, and since it was a Friday and the commissioners want to get the hell out of there, it was blessedly short. Even so it was a terrifying experience.
I went because I wanted to see what it was like before I had to attend my own Coastal Commission hearing about Cave Landing next month (August 2012).
Most of the meeting was concerned with small issues and the full commission deferred to the staff. And the staff appeared to be very professional. Dr. Charles Lester, the director of the CCC staff, could play the role of ”concerned scientist” in a remake of the movie “China Syndrome”.
But then there was the minor issue of a permit for Daly City, a suburb of San Francisco, to rebuild a rock retaining wall that had been damaged during the last winter storms. It was such a minor issue that Daley City didn’t even send a representative to the CCC meeting. What could possibly go wrong?
The rock retaining wall was to protect a dirt and gravel road that follows along the coastline. On the other side of the dirt road is an abandoned landfill that Daley City capped over in the 1970′s. And I watched the Coastal Commission, apparently on a whim, decide to overrule their staff and instead of issuing a permit they decided to require Daily City to dig up the entire landfill and relocate it inland somewhere. Where it got relocated to the Coastal Commission didn’t care – since that isn’t their problem. And the estimate to do this landfill relocation is $125,000,000.00!
$125,000,000.00 works out to $1250.00 for every man, woman, and child in Daly City. And the Coastal Commission decided that this must happen with about 10 minutes of discussion amongst themselves and without a single fact to cloud their minds! It was both unbelievable and terrifying.
I am confident that there are responsible politicians and employees of Daly City who have to make difficult decisions about how to allocate the limited resources of what is a not terribly prosperous area of California. And I am also confident that these responsible people have decided that they have other priorities than digging up an old landfill. Like maybe helping old people and the disabled and providing police protection for their citizens. But that doesn’t matter now because the Coast Commission has decided and thus it must happen. And the Coastal Commission has plenty of ways of making sure that it happens.
Now I understand why people have been warning me about the Coastal Commission. The Coastal Commission can do anything they want with no repercussions. It was exactly like I imagine the lord of the manor treated his serfs – the lord decrees that he needs a new castle and the serfs have to stop tending their fields and building the castle no matter what! This is no basis for a system of government.
In completely unrelated news, the City of San Bernardino, CA declared bankruptcy last week.
July 16th, 2012
I met with Frank Mecham, the Supervisor of District 1 of San Luis Obispo County, today at his office in SLO. Frank was very kind, and seemed very interested in my story and in my amendment to the SLO Green Ordinance. (My amendment is here).
Frank was clear that he did not support the Green Ordinance, but he said that my amendment addressed the number one complaint of his constituants – that is the unpredicability of getting a land use permit in SLO County. I felt very encouraged. Even if the Green Ordinance goes down in flames I think that my ordinance language might be incorporated at some time into the SLO Building Code.
July 23rd, 2012
The flaw in the argument of the staff to deny my vested right is simple – they are relying on a decision called “Avco” that requires substantial work or evidence of government approvals to establish a vested right to a development. However, the “Avco” decision was based on the 1972 Coastal Zone Conservation Act and not on the broader language of the actual Coastal Act that was passed in 1976. The “Avco” decision does not apply to my situation. (It is also ridiculous that I have to know this stuff to get a simple building permit.)
The staff report sets up the foundation for any lawsuit that I may have to file in order to get water service from CSA-12 as the SLO Planning Commission decided. I knew that the Coastal staff would reject my argument, but I can’t sue over this issue unless I brought it up. And the Coastal staff was never going to accept my argument, because if they did then everybody that got their project appealed to the Coastal Commission would start using this vested rights argument – and the staff sure doesn’t want that to happen!
July 27th, 2012
After waiting one year since the Coastal Commission staff appealed my minor use permits to themselves the CCC staff finally published their report about my house on their website on July 27, 2012. There are two reports, one for my vested rights claim, and one for the actual permit appeal. Here are the reports:
The two reports total 287 pages, but the bulk of the report is just stuff they reprinted from my earlier permit application. The actual vested rights report is 32 pages, and the permit appeal report is 39 pages. Your tax dollars at play.
In the vested rights report the CCC staff lets slip the actual reason that they are being such hard asses about my house getting water from CSA-12. The real reason they are such jerks is (from page 8 of the vested rights report):
Probably the most problematic impact in addition to the public access impact that would be associated with such a project is related to LCP conformance (i.e., as indicated above, whether such a pipeline is even allowed outside the USL) and the potential for both prejudicing future public service projects that extend past the USL, as well as the related potential for this and other such projects to induce inappropriate growth outside of the USL, contrary to the LCP’s direction and objectives.
In other words – the CCC staff appealed my house to the Commission because letting me use CSA-12 water might set a precedent for other people to use community service water who are outside of the USL. But the problem with this logic is that the Cave Landing Ranch property is actually inside of a USL – the USL of CSA-12!