Archive for November, 2012
November 1st, 2012
On last Friday the Coastal Commission staff put on their website the agenda for the November meeting of the Commission. My house was not on the agenda. I had expected to be on the November agenda since Daniel Robinson has promised in September that my house was his top priority and that he had all the information he needed.
Since last Friday Dave Watson has been calling every day to find out what the hell happened. Finally this afternoon Dave received this email:
Dave sent back this email immediately:
And so I continue to wait. There is nothing I can do to make the Coastal Commission staff work any faster. I am completely at their mercy. It is now approaching 3 years since I originally applied for the permits to build my house and there is no end in sight.
Opening a new office in Austin, Texas
I signed a lease today for office space for up to 20 new employees in Austin, Texas. It is in a beautiful historic office building in downtown Austin. My partners and I decided that expanding our business in California did not make as much sense as opening a new office in Texas. My experience and frustration with SLO County and the California Coastal Commission was one of the reasons to make this decision.
Now instead of retiring at the end of this year to my (non-existing) house at Cave Landing I am considering moving to Austin to work to expand our business there. At this rate I may never be able to build my house at Cave Landing and my investment in my property there will be completely lost due to the actions of SLO Planning Dept and the California Coastal Commission staff.
My Free House in Texas
I also figured out that I can pay for a $1 million house in Austin just with the money I would save each year by not having to pay California income taxes. Texas has no income taxes and California is increasing state income taxes to 13.3% retroactively to Jan 1, 2012. And a $1 million house in Austin is way, way nicer than a $1 million house in SLO County since construction and land costs are at least 40% lower in Texas than California. And for me it’s FREE!
And, by the way, there is no equivalent government agency like the California Coastal Commission in Texas. Or, for that matter, the SLO Planning Dept.
November 12th, 2012
On Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 Dave Watson received the following email from Daniel Robinson (Daniel is the Coastal Commission staff person in charge of the appeal of my building permit):
In Daniel’s email he says that he talked to the Coastal Commission’s geologist and that we need to consider an alternate site for my house at Cave Landing. The yellow highlight area on this drawing shows Daniel’s alternate site:
In August 2012 Dave Watson, Daniel Robinson, and others had met at the Cave Landing site and everyone had come to a compromise solution that solved the Coastal staff’s main problem and also left me able to build my house essentially unchanged. I wrote about that here.
In September 2012 we submitted the materials to the Coastal staff that they had requested in the August site meeting.
Now in November 2012, after delaying the Coastal Commission hearing for my house since August 2012, the Coastal staff is asking me to spend tens of thousands of dollars and more months to do a design and analysis for an alternate home site that no one thinks is better than the original site.
Robert Malone summarized all the reasons that the alternate site is worse that the original site in this email.
I organized a conference call on Friday, Nov. 9 2012 with two architects, Dave Watson, my lawyers, and Bonnie Neely to figure out what we had to do to get this stupid permit. That conference call was basically organized around deciding if the Coastal staff is overworked, lazy, or just plain evil. Bonnie Neely was definitely on the “overworked” team. I personally lean to “lazy” with maybe a hint of “evil”. But some of the participants were solidly in the “evil” camp.
Let me explain the differences in the three camps. “Overworked” thinks that the Coastal staff has so much on their hands that they did nothing on my project because they have lots of more important stuff to do. “Lazy” thinks that because the Coastal staff isn’t required to get anything done in a given time period that means that they will get it done when and if they damn well feel like it. And the “evil” camp thinks that the Coastal staff is doing this purely to cause me more grief, heartache, and expense – and maybe to kill my house off entirely.
At this point I am nearly three years into my application for a minor use permit to build a single family home. It is way, way too late to be talking about alternate sites. I have hundreds of thousands of dollars tied up in engineering, geology, and architecture fees for the original site. The Coastal staff just needs to finish editing their report and then schedule me up for the full Coastal Commission hearing.
November 15th, 2012
November 17th, 2012
I read an article today that summarizes the current situation in California:
I am pretty sure that he is kidding. But maybe not.
November 20th, 2012
I saw this article today and I was really shocked. I know that things are bad in California, and I think they are getting worse, but to have so many people in poverty is just tragic.
I think that I see a wider slice of California than most residents. I live in Avila Beach, which is a rich enclave where the citizens expect and receive good services like police and fire. But I also live and work in Bakersfield where there are a lot of poor people and whole neighborhoods that look more like Mexico than the US. And our customers are schools districts that serve the whole spectrum, from the richest areas to the poorest areas.
My feeling is that the rich coastal areas of California are increasingly disassociated with the poorer inland areas. Certainly the disdain that the SLO Planning Dept. shows for any construction in SLO County can not be reconciled with the poverty in some of the inland, rural parts of the county.
And it turns out that California has a two tier economy – the rich are richer and the poor are poorer than any other state.
November 21st, 2012
And then the same arrogance that abuses other people’s property rights also ends up running over relationships with other people:
And finally, the Coastal Commission is busy as well:
November 24th, 2012
Yup – the December 2012 agenda of the California Coastal Commission came out and once again I have been delayed at least one more month. And, of course, not a word from the Coastal Commission staff as to when my hearing will actually take place.
But I have some good news – the quality of the resumes we have been getting from potential employees for our new office in Austin Texas has been outstanding. We should be able to have our new office up, running, and fully staffed before January.