Monday, March 31, 2008

Here We Go Again, or Los Ososology, Redux

As mentioned here previously, the RWQCB is working on a “Stealth” onsite wastewater systems basin plan amendment (0005 & 0006) and, surprise! public comment ends April 7th. (I know, betcha didn’t know anything about it, did you? That's why I call it "stealth." Clueless public. So if you lived outside the Los Osos PZ, or lived in Shandon or Santa Margarita (poor Ron Crawford over at is having nighmares now) and will wake up a few years down the road to find all kinds of Los Ososological (Ron's term that I'm happily filtching) things coming at you and you say, “What the. . . .????” but it will be too late --- hahahahahahah – so you’ll have to call your lawyer and then it’ll be more Mad Hatter Tea Parties & Torquemada’s Auto de Fes all over again. Sigh.)

By the way, the County WRAC (Water Resources Advisory Committee) will be meeting Wednesday, April 2, 2008, 1:30 pm – 3 pm. in the city/county Library Community Room on 995 Palm St., SLOTown if you want to comment to them on item #4, Proposed Changes to the Basin Plan.

You can also send comments to the RWQCB before April 7th. And attend the May 9th meeting on Aerovista Pl., SLOTown. Not that it will do a lick of good.

The following is my Public Comment on this new Stealth Amendment:

Regional Water quality Control Board
Central Coast Region
895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101
San Luis Obispo, CA 93402

Chairman Young & Board

Re: Public Comment on R-3-2008-0005 & 0006 Onsite Wastewater Systems Basin Plan Amendment

Dear Sirs:

The proposed revision to the Basin Plan criteria and waiver for onsite systems appears to include citizens living in Shandon, Tempelton, Santa Margarita, Arroyo Grande, Nipomo as well as Los Osos. To my knowledge, these citizens have no clue this Resolution is under consideration, even though they and their property will be directly affected by its laws.

While this revision has been quietly circulating among various governmental agencies, to my knowledge, no individual citizens whose property will be affected by this has even received so much as a postcard of any hearings, or town hall informational meetings as to just what this proposal entails, or ways to access the revision or when and how to properly submit public input.

(This public media silence is especially puzzling considering the skillful and close way the RWQCB has always worked with the Tribune to get their “facts” and point of view out. In this case, there’s been dead silence in the media. Why?)

That’s another reason that what I see going on here is another "Stealth Resolution," one that quietly skates by on fulfilling the technical letter of the law while missing its spirit entirely. Public comment is supposed to actually include the PUBLIC, not just a quick, cursory run-by past a few governmental agencies and some buried public notices. A brief informal quizzing of a few members of the Los Osos "public" -- a "public" that is far more informed about all things "onsite" than anyone living in Shandon, for example, -- tells me that folks living outsize the PZ out here, who will also be directly impacted by this resolution, don't know anything about it at all.

Therefore, I have to protest this process and request that you hold off on voting on this draft until you can set up a procedure to at least send out postcards to all "the public" that will be impacted by this (i.e. all the septic tank permit holders throughout the county) so they actually are given an opportunity to get informed and make their public comments. After all, it’s their property and their lives that will be impacted the most.

Apparently, you folks learned nothing from your costly Los Osos fiasco. An informed, educated "public" is your ally, not your enemy, to be skirted around with stealth proposals. Yes, a lot of public comment is silly and wastes time, but a lot is -- again -- actually valuable and can often prevent costly blunders later down the line. And spending time on the front end of public policy always saves a whole lot of time -- and lawsuits -- on the back end.

Ann Calhoun

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Los Ososology? Bwa-hahahah

Ron Crawford, over at is having a grand time while quaking in his boots with his latest post, "Shandon, Tempelton, Santa Margarita, Arroyo Grande, Nipomo, WELCOME TO LOS OSOS" with his newly coined word: Los Ososology and comments on the new Stealth Onsite Resolution 005& 006. Hahahahah. Well, many people in those communties wrote snotty letters to the editor calling the people of Los Osos names and laughing at The Los Osos 45. Ah, but The Laws of Karma are not mocked. Despite their lack of understanding as to what happened here, those people in those communities now have my deepest sympathy.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Reclamator’s Up And Running!

The following email exchange between Tom Murphy of AES and Barry Tolle of the county. For those following the Reclamator story, here’s further info as to its operation.

As with all things Sewerish, this little Danse Macabre de Merde will have to be resolved either in the courts or by an official sit-down/pronouncements by RWQCB, the County and Mr. Murphy before anything gets clarified in a meaningful manner. The question I raised in another posting regarding “selling” reclaimed water at 6 x the cost, remains. (i.e. The CSD can say to Mr. Murphy, No thanks, we don’t want your nice water. If it’s not a “discharge” then you don’t need to hook up to a sewer, so keep your nice water out of our sewer pipes, thank you, and go talk to Roger Briggs, thank you.) So, stay tuned.

And, posted last, an email from Harvey Packard to the CSD that raises as interesting question. Note his use of the word “may.” As in, We don’t know, we’re just guessing here. Who’s job is it to stop guessing and actually find out? Clearly, not Mr. Packard’s or the RWQCB’s.

Mr. Murphy’s reply to Mr. Tolle’s email (qwhich follows below, Mr. Packard's email after that)

Hi Barry,
. . . . Now, I am in Hawai'i closing a large commercial project, taking effluent from a> municipal plant and purifying it for irrigation to serve a very large health> care facility on Oahu utilizing the RECLAMATOR. Additionally, we are> discussing a Private Public Partnership arrangement with the Hawaii> Department of Health, providing the RECLAMATOR to retrofit over 180,000 residential cesspools and over 3,000 commercial cesspools statewide.

In regards to the RECLAMATOR being up and running, I somewhat puzzled by your suggestion that the RECLAMATOR shouldn't be running. Why not? Barry, I have been in contact with you and made several offers for you to arrange to meet me at the RECLAMATOR. Ed Ochs told me you came by the house last week, however, I didn't know you were coming by and wasn't available to show it to you. As of now, there won't be an opportunity to inspect it until I return from Hawai'i next week. So am I to understand a "water heater" or a "garbage disposal" isn't allowed to be put into operation until someone actually inspects it first?

I will contact you as soon as I return, until then, the RECLAMATOR is connected to the house sewer pipe, reclamates (reclaims and repurifies) the water, decants the reclamated water through a wireless water meter into a permeate reservoir from which it overflows back into the sewer line which delivers the metered reclamated water to the LOCSD's sewer lateral for purchase at the gong market value. The water meter and box with plumbing was exposed when you stopped by last week. I assume you saw it. Keep in mind, the RECLAMATOR does not produce any "effluent". It provides for the maximum degree of effluent reduction as is the criteria set fourth in USC 33/26 Sec. 1316. I brought by a jar of permeate which was drawn directly from the reservoir tank of the RECLAMATOR for your viewing pleasure or testing if you wish. As the LOCSD has not provided me with an "exemption from required connection", they currently are paying me for the water based upon my water meter reading. You may want to refer to the RECLAMATOR as a "money tree" when I connect it up to a publicly owned sewer lateral within the CCRWQCB jurisdiction as they are requiring a "hookup" to the publicly owned sewer laterals. Good for me as the reclamated water cost is 6 times (6Xs) the cost of the public drinking water supplied to my property. Also keep in mind that there is NO disposal as there is NO waste associated with the RECLAMATOR. I know this is very different from the onsite wastewater treatment systems you are familiar with which treat wastewater for disposal, however, the RECLAMATOR reclamates (not treats) water (not> wastewater) for beneficial reuse (not disposal). The RECLAMATOR does not require a "disposal field". When there is no publicly owned treatment works> collection lateral available to connect to and charge for the water, nor an existing disposal field which served a previous onsite wastewater treatment system, the reclamate simply flows into a 1 1/4" well point installed only 6-10 feed into the soil, I will install one soon to show how this is done.
As the system has only been operating for one week last Friday, the nitrates are not yet where they will soon be as it takes the de-nitrifiers a little longer to develop than the nitrifiers. NSF waited 6 weeks prior to starting their testing for the Nitrogen Series Analysis. However, I believe we are already less than 10 ppm since 5 days after startup. The electrical is very simple as I use 4 conductor cord run inside of 1" electrical conduit hard wired into a circuit box at the house which is off of a 15 amp breaker. All control is within the RECLAMATOR itself, not on the wall of the house as is others. As is explained in the RECLAMATOR Engineering Report you have a copy of, the maximum amp draw of any one piece of equipment is only 2.9 amps and there is a maximum draw of less than 6> amps for only one minute during the post decant back flush of the ultra filtration membrane upon the startup of the aeration phase of operation which happens a maximum of only 6 times per day. I understand this RECLAMATOR is very different in nature than anything the County has previously been exposed to as it complies with the MCLG USEPA standard for drinking water quality which is a non-enforceable public health goal standard. However, as we move to start installing 1000s within your jurisdiction, we will be glad to work with your department to fine tune a program to track all installs as they occur. I will discuss some ideas as to how this can happen next week upon my return, until then...ALOHA!

Tom Murphy,

Hi Tom: . . . . . Sorry I missed you last week . . .I just received a call that Mr. Low appeared at the Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday and claimed that the Reclamator was up and running.> Please be advised, until I make a final inspection of the Reclamator unit,> this unit should not be operating. Please contact me as soon as possible> to schedule a final inspection. I will be looking at connections between> house sewer and the reclamator unit, how effluent is handled, the disposal> field, and all electrical connections. Please contact me ASAP: Thanks: Barry Tolle 781-5628

And From Harvey Packard, RWQCB

As noted, above, at this late date, what’s that word “may” doing in there? As in “. . . may even be of higher quality.” Doesn’t anybody KNOW? Who’s job is it to actually KNOW something here? And To Mr. Packard’s Knowledge means. . . what, exactly? That he’s presuming? Guessing? Also note Mr. Packard’s statement that the basin plan prohibits all discharges of waste from sewer disposal systems. If that’s the case, how was it possible for the RWQCB to issue a discharge permit for the TRI-W plant to discharge waste onto the Broderson site, which is within the Basin? If that discharge was allowed because it met certain criteria that the RWQCB set, then does whatever the Reclamator is “discharging” also meet that same criteria? If Mr. Packard doesn’t know, i.e. the Reclamator “may” be doing something or other, then who does know?

email to CSD

Thu Feb 28 15:36:28 2008

Subject: Re: FW: Los Osos Community Services District

Ms. Biggs, I stated in my Feb 19 email (shown below), that we would have a further response to the CSD's inquiry within a couple of weeks. However, upon further review and reflection, we have only the following to add at this time.To our knowledge, the effluent quality from a Reclamator would not be any worse than that from the CSD's existing facilities, and may even be of higher quality. The Central Coast Water Board supports measures to minimize ongoing adverse impacts from septic systems. However, even if it works as well as its promotors claim it will, the Reclamator will still discharge waste. The Reclamator therefore does not comply with the Basin Plan, which prohibits all discharges of waste from sewage disposal systems, including engineered alternative systems.

The Central Coast Water Board has indicated that it does not intend to take additional enforcement action for violations of the Basin Plan prohibition as long as the County’s process stays on track. Once a community sewer system is available, or sooner if the County discontinues its efforts to build one, the CSD will be required to eliminate all onsite discharges of sewage waste. The CSD can do this by connecting to the sewer system, or by proposing and obtaining approval of another legal alternative to eliminate all onsite discharges. The requirement to eliminate onsite discharges does not violate Water Code Section 13360, even if the only feasible compliance alternative is connecting to a public system.

Harvey Packard, Section Manager and Enforcement CoordinatorCentral Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101San Luis Obispo, CA 93401Phone: (805) 542-4639Fax: (805) 788-3558

Friday, March 28, 2008

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons, The Bay News, Tolosa Press, SLO, Ca., for March 27, 2008

Mother Calhoun Explains It All To You Some More, Again, Redux

The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we hold of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think about us.
Quentin Crisp

Clearly, you didn’t listen to Mother Calhoun years ago when she explained it all to you and now we have Politicians Behaving Badly Again, so take your hands out of your pockets, sit down and listen up.

1. If you’re the Commander in Chief and you lie a country into war, and your soldiers are dying daily in the streets of Baghdad, do not, under any circumstances, put on a funny hat and attend a Gridiron Dinner and sing off-key little musical ditties that make fun of your ginned up WMD lies, a get-out-of-jail card for your crony, Scooter Libby, and other assortments of your appalling bungles. Such a performance surely goes beyond the matter of mere Bad Taste and enters into the realm of Sociopathy.

2. If you are a Senator, you need to know that tap dancing is not appropriate behavior while in airport bathroom stalls. If you want to tap, take dance lessons. If you want sex, get a motel room. Do not try to combine the two activities in a public toilet. And when caught, don’t bother to claim you’re not “gay.” It’s not relevant. Nobody cares. They just don’t want their Broadway musicals combined with “wide stance” lower abdominal digestive problems.

3. When it’s time for you to do your perp walk to the microphones, paper bag on your moronic head to publicly atone for your Bad Behavior, leave your wife at home. Mother Calhoun is sick of seeing that blank, upside-the-head stare from The Humiliated, Betrayed Little Woman. If you were man enough to blow $4,500 on hookers, you’re man enough to stand up before your constituents alone. Dragging along The Wife isn’t a demonstration of Family Loyalty or Family Values. It’s simply another manifestation of your enormous ego, in all its malign glory, humiliating your wife (again) by using her as a convenient prop for your pathetic public mea culpa.

4. If the public is tired of all this bad behavior, then Mother Calhoun suggests a New Law: Every person holding elected office shall be required to actively participate in a weekly 12-Step Program of some kind throughout their tenure. There is nothing better for keeping the ego in check than a 12-Step Program. And that’s the problem here: Ego.

Eliot Spitzer, for example didn’t get into a mess because his testosterone level was too high. He got into trouble because his false, unchecked ego gave him a mistaken sense of entitlement. He thought he was “entitled” to $1,000-an-hour hookers, and was “entitled” to be above the law, and when perp-walked out on stage, was “entitled” to use his wife as a humiliated prop to shield his ego from its richly deserved comeuppance. In short, he was caught “Walking While Stupid” because he didn’t understand that as an Office Holder, he wasn’t “entitled” to hookers and VIP Kitty-Kat Klubs, or the Best Seats In The House. Instead, he was “entitled” to thankless hard work, endless headaches and snotty letters-to-the-editor from his constituents telling him to “Get Over Yourself.” A good 12-step program would have daily reminded him of that hard fact.

Mother Calhoun can only hope that so many chickens flying home to roost is a signal that the time for Karmic cleansing is at hand – things ending badly because they were started badly – and before renewal, the old must be swept away.

It is always odd that we never seem to understand that all actions do have some kind of consequence no matter how much we wish to deny that fact. While sexual hypocrisy is a stock item in the human comedy, an army foolishly wasted and bleeding in foreign lands, a nation driven into financial meltdown by incompetence, lies and dangerously reckless, Kool-Aid-drinking ideologues, a public now paying a high price for its apathy and inattention -- none of this is comedy, no matter how many funny hats a Commander in Chief puts on or how many satirical ditties he may sing.

And most important of all, The Piper is never amused. Of all the players, he alone is “entitled,” and he will be paid.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Morro Valley Farmers Fined Out of Existence by RWQCB!

It was like deju vu all over again. The secret email sent in the dead of night to Roger Briggs, CEO of the Regional Water Quality Control Boar, demanding him to "fine those farmers out of existence." Roger’s reply that he was already on the case, the legal papers were already in the pipeline. Four times the amount of nitrates allowed were found to have contaminated the drinking water wells of Morro Bay. And as Morro Bay has been sewered, Roger couldn’t slap ACLs or CDOs on the residents of Morro Bay, so he moved immediately to slap $12 million dollar ACL fines on the farmers in Morro Valley and started issued CDOs on 45 individual farmers picked at random.

Residents of Los Osos, especially The Los Osos 45, were happy to note that when it comes to equal justice under the law, Mr. Briggs was keeping a level playing field. Said one of The 45, "When I first read of the high nitrates in Morro Bay’s drinking water, I figured Roger would do nothing except maybe ‘work with local agricultural management agencies to develop improved farming techniques.’ We figured he’d ignore the farmera, even though they were guilty of 'polluting the groundwaters of the state of California' since he had his hands full prosecuting us 45 for 'polluting the groundwaters of the state of California.'"

"But no, we’re relieved to see he’s issued ACL and CDOs and those farmers will now face about two years of unremitting hell, being dragged into the RWQCB’s Mad Hatter Tea Party & Torquemada’s auto de fe Kangaroo Court, watching them change the rules and goal posts any time they felt like it, jerking them around and ruining their lives as well. It’s nice to see justice being administered with an even hand."

Oh, wait. What am I saying? I just made that up. Truthfully/ Morro Bay’s wells are contaminated by high nitrates. Since Morro Bay has been sewered for about 50 years, the RWQCB has decided they can’t flog that dead horse, so they’ve decided that the contamination is coming from the farms in Morro Valley and the city of Morro Bay will (finally) also be looking at the Chorro Valley as well.

So, did the RWQCB slap CDO’s or ACLs and huge fines on the farmers, like they did on The Los Oso 45? Don’t be silly. That might be seen as treating people fairly and administering their regulatory oversight fairly and in an even-handed manner.

Instead, The Los Osos 45 were trashed while the Morro Bay Valley farmers will be referred "to local agricultural management agencies for assistance on farming techniques." Said the RWQCB’s enforcement coordinator, Harvey Packard, "We’re looking at the report and we’ll be working with the stakeholders to resolve the city’s problems."

Isn’t that nice? Working with the stakeholders to solve problems. And not a CDO in sight. How sweet. Equal justice under law.

Here Come Da Stealth Resolution

Ran into Al Barrow in SLOTown the other day. He’s been asking around various county and city folks to see if they’re aware of the Regional Water Board’s new septic Resolution, a draft of which has a public comment period ending April 7th. Apparently a whole lot of governmental folks who should be in the know are going to be caught flat-footed by this. And the citizens who now use septic tanks and so will be directly impacted, are completely out of the loop.

What’s that, you say? Never heard of it? Nothing in the Tribune? Which is odd, since anyone in Los Osos knows how well coordinated the Tribune and the RWQCB are on, uh, getting "messages" out. No Town Hall Meetings? No public input hearings on TV? No notification letters to all county residents holding septic tank permits informing them up the draft changes? Nope, not a peep on an ordinance that will have major impact on a whole lot of people living throughout the county, including a whole bunch of people living here in Los Osos outside the PZ—Helloooo Cabrillo Estates, Hellloo, all you folks living east of town.

As with other "stealth" ordinances, once the public comment period is closed and once the draft is voted on, that’s it. If you only find out about the thing then, too bad, too late, goodbye. Any problems with the ordinance can then only be challenged in court, with the happless citizen now facing the Attorney General’s Suit Boys from Sacramento who will dance them around again, Willy, until they’re bankrupt. That’s how these stealth ordinances operate --- meet the letter of the law while strangling its intent.

And lest any of you think I'm some kind of "anti-clean water obstructionist," wrong. I was hoping that AB885 would have been completed by now. This new ordinance smacks of nothing more than an end run around AB885 -- a stealth attempt to put in place a bad ordinance run by a bad board and staff. Bad board and staff, you say? Yes. After watching this particular RWQCB and staff for 24 years and especially watching their performance for the past two years, I no longer have any confidence in their competence, trusworthiness and/or ethical reliability as a Regulatory Agency in a regulatory structure that is devoid of properly functioning checks and balances. THAT's the real problem -- we now have a system of foxes and wolves and chicken coops. That is never good.

What follows is an excerpted email from Mr. Barrow and a Press Release from PZLDF.

The email:
[ . . . re . . . ] the CCRWQC Onsite Wastewater Management Plan. It is a little unclear in their attempt to clarify so I have attached an opine by a retired grade 5 wastewater operator. She managed Riverside WWTP and knows some onsite and reg issues.
While Gail is critical of the RB3 she brings some valid points and impacts to view that a non professional not might see. Keep in mind she dealt with those regulators as part of here responsibilities to the ratepayers.
Most ranch/farms are served by septic systems as sewer is not available (the county approved method of onsite treatment). 50% of all residences are on septic tanks. Some impacts:
You will have to pay for an inspection, pumping and a discharge permit.
Renewal up to 5 years all with additional fees
Some homes may be denied discharge permit unless you purchase advanced systems that can cost up to $50k plus monthly fees up to $50.00 (electrical to run aeration etc.)
Any development with 5 or more units will be required to have a centralized treatment system!
Any secondary dwelling will require an acre!
The RB3 will determine arbitrarily what actions they will take: they run a tight ship without normal due process which means you have to fight with the Attorney General to get recourse after an appeal to the SWRCB then you have standing with the courts.
This will have a negative impact on affordable housing, my dog in the fight. The Director of SLO Planning , Victor Hollanda was not aware of this water board's plan as of today. How many other stakeholders are not?
Please forward this e-mail to all stake holders: residents, SLO AG Department, SLO Farm Bureau and anyone else you care about. The public can submit comments up until April 7, 2008.
You are a developer, real estate broker and I assume you and your husband are in the ag business as well so you are going to be impacted as well as your clients who will require disclosure. The Water Board is doing this on the quiet so those who are impacted will likely not have the chance to express their concerns properly.
We all support clean water and responsible wastewater management. I am on an ad hoc committee that developed our own Onsite Wastewater Management Program for Los Osos based on the approved Santa Cruz County Plan 1995 Howard Kolb RB3 and John Ricker Santa Cruz County EHS. I have some knowledge of this issue and was a member of California Onsite Wastewater Association and attended many conferences on AB 885 the statewide Onsite mandate that after 6 years can't get any traction so the CCRWQCB is going around it in their Basin Plan Update. That is dodging all the issues that COWA has brought forth which includes the private and public sector.
Feel free to forward this to anyone including the RWQCB who I am ccing. Sorrell Marks is the staff person on this item which they should postpone the hearing and extend the comment so all concerned parties can comment.
Thank You,Al Barrow, President, Citizens for Affordable and Safe Environment & Coalition for Low Income Housing LOCSD WW Advisory Committee

The Press Release for the March 24 meeting
Citizens For Clean Water

Monday March 24th 7:00 at Washington Mutual Bank Los Osos.
Main Topic Of Discussion

Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board -NEW-Onsite Regulations:
Please forward message to your friends, neighbors and colleagues throughout the region
Basin Plan Revisions to onsite systems can be found at CCRWQCB COMMENT DEADLINE IS APRIL 7TH....

(See comments and other documents on State plan @
The actual property owners affected by the Regional Board proposed regulations have not been notified or part of the public process. While the Basin Plan update for onsite is important for the ability of the CCRWQCB to protect the waters of the state, it is vital this regional board comply with due process, and is not allowed to further abuse its regulatory powers.

Citizens for Clean Water believes that the Basin Plan revisions concerning onsite systems are long overdue. However, all efforts from the community property home owners and the Los Osos Community Services District to work cooperatively with Water Board Staff have been rejected countless times. Citizens for Clean Water-PZLDF has worked toward offering work-plans and assistance in updating and strengthen the onsite regulations in lieu of the adverse punishment.(ACL fines the CDO's and settlement CAO's). These efforts for public participation that would result in actual water quality protection and improvements were rejected in order to make a "Poster Child" examples of the individuals in Los Osos.

The timing of the revisions and CCW-PZLDF citizen lawsuit challenging the existing Basin Plan resolution that were used to impose harsh individual enforcement, and violated constitutional protections make this update to supersede 83-12 no more than a cover ill-founded enforcement.

These actions promulgate power to use the same enforcement tactics against individuals throughout the region, it is an unfunded mandate on already strapped government agencies for another costly program, that does nothing to improve water quality.

See other comments on SWRCB site:

The ccrwqcb revisions to onsite may be especially onerous to individual property owners throughout the entire region. The water board seeks to expand their discretionary power in every resolution. However, IT IS NOT JUST ABOUT LOS OSOS! the entire tri county region will find the water board power to act as the final authority on land planning.

Just one example is the 5 unit parcel developments will require a community system, and no granny units will be allowed without adding another acre. WDR(permits) are either implemented or waived, (either options is not final) if findings later require a community system to hook up to, and you are on basic septic, it may become an automatic PZ --
the resolutions have no cost/benefits information or analysis (no CEQA, no economics, or scientific findings are required, the findings states enough already has been done and the impacts minimal)

This is the same tactic that was used against Los Osos in resolution 83-12 and 83-13---then morphed to make those with septic's properties in the same category as "major polluters" and homes illegal.

Please send this out to the other communities in region 3 and the State organizations. The RWQCB backdoor version of State Onsite ( AB885) is anti-property rights, anti-affordability, (eliminates affordable housing in rural areas), provides power to foreclose on environmentally sound green solutions, and steps way beyond the scope of water protection to land planning---this is another power grab for an out-of-control board that has no oversight.

Citizens for Clean Water

Friday, March 21, 2008

Basin Plan Update?

The Basin Plan's up for review and change, but, as usual, it's one of those things wherein if you don't know about it and don't comment on anything, the doors close and whatever changes -- some of which may well affect you and your home personally -- are locked forever into place and if you object that you didn't know anything about you're told, Too Bad, Too Late, Go Away.

Monday, March 24, at 7 pm at WAMU bank in Los Osos, PZLDF will be having an informational meeting to give people info on the updates and how they can get involved if they wish. The deadline for any public comment is early April, so not much time is left to offer any input.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

THWOK! Mr. Murphy Replies:

I recently posted an exchange of emails between Mr. Murphy (Reclamator) and myself. Additionally, various people posted comments on the blog entry. The following was an email response cc'd to me from Mr. Murphy that included (following) a copy of Mr. Le Gros' previously posted comments on this website. I have redacted an unnecessary "rudeness" in Mr. Murphy’s intro email to me without altering the sense of it.

Hi Ann,
I hope your weekend was good.
I was wondering if you would be so kind to post this communication on “Ann’s Land”? This guy [Mr. Le Gros] brings up some really good comments which come from his really [ . . . ] mindset that obviously is based upon agenda driven ignorance. The intelligent ones will enjoy the exchange.
Thank you,

The RECLAMATOR “is not” a “septic system” and DOES NOT “DISCHARGE,” therefore NO “DISCHARGE PERMIT” is required and thus the reason a “building permit” was issued WITHOUT a “DISCHARGE PERMIT.” It is just that simple.

The LOCSD instructed the County to issue the permit. As I have been telling you for the past 7 months, the RECLAMATOR does not require a “DISCHARGE PERMIT.” Now I have just proved it and we still have roadside authorities who continue to suggest it isn’t true…when it is in “red-n-black” ink. Just go to, it is there for your viewing pleasure.

The “point of my device” is: Me being “connected” to the LOCSD’s collection system and them NOT issuing me an “Exemption from Required Connection” so I can reuse my own water for such things as indirect potable reuse, subsurface irrigation and even toilet flushing, I have a “money tree” as the RECLAMATOR produces “HARVEST WATER”, a BEYOND “recycled water” resource, the such which is defined as water which is a “valuable resource”, my property and subject to purchase under the United States Constitution’s Fifth Amendment which requires a government agency to fairly and justly compensate a private citizen at fair market value should the private citizen be obligated to give up his personal property to such government entity. The LOCSD is obligated to pay for all RECLAMATOR harvest water they take just like the County will be obligated to pay for all the RECLAMATOR harvest water if they so stupidly chose to continue with a “dead” publicly owned sewer project that can't be paid for, just go figure, again, it is just that simple…it is “WATER,” not “DISCHARGE.”

The “fair market value” of 5Xs (five times) the Golden State water rate coming into same property is based on Lake Havasu’s latest sewer service rates. He, who owns the facility, owns the reclaimed water (state law). He who owns the water is entitled to be paid provided anyone takes it. This month the water bill was $66 dollars with irrigation turned off. That means the LOCSD would have been owing me approximately $300.00 for my reclaimed “harvest water” this month. Just think feeding solar power back into the “power grid” and associate that model to feeding harvest water back into the POTW “sewer grid”.

In regards to “monitoring” the device, it is monitored by a “ultra-filtration” membrane which is a physical filtration and is not subject to allow non-effluent limitation meeting “discharge” through it. The membrane takes out the “unknown failure possibility” out of the equation. If it fails, it asks for service, again, it is just that simple…it is “fool and foul proof” in regards to permeate quality. When the biological process is functioning, the RECLAMATOR is denitrifying. When the biological process equipment fails, the process is affected and the membrane won’t allow passage thus causing a service signal to go out. No thousands of gallons of untreated sewage and pollutants flow into the bay…ever!

Obviously, Mr. LeGros doesn’t know a RECLAMATOR is required to be installed at each home prior to discharging into a POTW to comply with the “pretreatment requirements” of USC 33/26. Maybe he should read “Facts” then he will have a few of his own as he is running real short on them at present…….Again, with either an “Exemption” or “Payment”, which one or the other must apply, the sewer can’t be funded, thus will NEVER happen. If Mr. LeGros doesn’t get it, then maybe he just needs to ask Mr. Ogren to explain it to him.

The BESTEP 10 was tested by NSF International in 1994 and demonstrated to provide consistent denitrification. No other technology has been successfully able to accomplish this to this day. I am going to provide a computer to the regulatory authorities so they can monitor them all right from their office along with NSF International as NSF is the entity who has agreed to provide daily monitoring of all the systems via wireless technology and internet. Just to show what a really nice guy I am, I’m not even going to charge them for the computers…J

Thanks again,
Tom Murphy, Los Osos, CA.

[Mr LeGros had posted] I have some experience regarding the 'permit' issue on the installation of a private septic system on private property; so I'll chime in.I used to own a vacant lot on Bay Vista Lane here in Los Osos. While the property is in the PZ (same as Bayridge Estates), the RWQCB allows building on said vacant lot (Averaged lot size up in that area over 1 acre). When I applied for a building permit from the County Building Department; the ONLY way a building permit could be issued (allowing the private septic system to be installed) was with a DISCHARGE PERMIT from the RWQCB; with the caveat that I provide reports to the RWQCB on the performance of the septic system EACH YEAR OF OPERATION; and pay a $900 processing fee to the RWQCB each year as well.IF Mr. Murphy intends to solely use his reclaimator (not attached to the Bayridge Community septic system), he will be required to get a DISCHARGE PERMIT from the RWQCB.IF Mr Murphy connects his reclaimator to the community systeic system (as he has) he will not be required to get a discharge permit form the RWQCB. But then again, the discharge from his devices is now going into the community septic what is the point of his device at all? He could forgo the device by just having a pipe from hs house to the community sewer.I would be interested if Murphy plans to monitor the discharge from the device as it enteres the community septic system. If he plans to monitor, it would be helpful to know what the loading will be on the device, what tests are to be perfomed; who will do the testing; which labratory will perform the tests; and for how long a time period the monitoring will occur.Regards, Richard LeGros

And Another Murphy Clarification Reply:
In addition to the above exchange, the following email was also in reply to my recent posting of emails between Mr. Murphy of AES (Reclamator) and myself concerning “discharge permits.” If Mr. Murphy lets me know when he has filed his lawsuit, I’ll post that info as well. If nothing is settled in court before 2011, the question will be: Will the RWQCB then issue a CAO and/or CDO to Mr. Murphy? If so, that hearing will be very, very interesting. If they don’t, then that will get even more interesting! Stay tuned.

[Mr. Murphy writes:]
Ann, I just want to clear up one thing. I don’t want a “discharge permit”. I have refused to be issued a “discharge permit”. I am not ever going to accept a “discharge permit”. Furthermore, soon, I will soon be filing a federal injunction against any “discharge permit” being issued in the State of California with all other states to follow…..

The law required best available technology which will eliminate the discharge of pollutants. The RECLAMATOR does this and therefore is the technology which achieves this requirements and as such shall be implemented nationally. They already owe me damages for not specifying it since 1994 (NSF Report showing nitrate reduction) nationally. Now, it is “knowingly” violating the federal law to not require and assist in the application of the RECLAMATOR nationally.

Now, there is no need for the Water Board as they only rule over “discharges” and there will be no more “discharges” allowed…“Disband the Water Board”!!! It is the solution for the State’s deficit.

[ my previous posting] Well, there it is, for now. And so, THWOK! The ball is now in the RWQCB and/or the CSD’s hands. Will they issue an “exemption” from hook up; will they issue a “discharge” permit and if so, what “discharges” will be permitted, ie. So many mgls of this and that, what will it cost per year and require, vis a vis testing & etc.? Will they issue an exemption or discharge permit before or after the sewer’s built, i.e. stall and delay and ignore Mr. Murphy – hey, they’re busy with Morro Bay’s nitrate levels, we’ll get back to you after 2011 or so – and pretend not to notice until after the whole town’s sewered THEN either issue Mr. Murphy a CAO or, heh-heh, decide that, sure, heck, we’ll give him a “discharge” permit, heh-heh, we were just kidding about “discharges” and not permitting any onsites in the PZ? This is a political football that can stay in the air for years! So, stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Poor Los Osos...Now In Closed Session

When you link to the agenda, scroll down to the Closed Session Items. Will the Board come to their senses, rescind the CDOs, work with the community and county on the new Basin Plan update, and move forward? Or continue spending gazillions of tax dollars flying the two Suit Boys back and forth from SAC to SLOT for the endless PZLDF lawsuit hearings and motions & etc.? Surely there’s better things they can be doing with your money? Also, at the end of the agenda, there’s the upcoming calendar: a meeting at the Aerovista Place in SloTown on May 9th. Can we presume there may be some updates then? Maybe a little sanity? Bwa-hahaha, sanity? What was I thinking . . . . . . .

This is a message from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Coast Region (3)-----

Interested Parties: The Central Coast Water Board will hold a meeting on March 20-21, 2008, in Salinas. Below is the link to the agenda and related staff reports:

Thank you.

Carol Hewitt
Executive Assistant
Regional Water Quality Control Board - Region 3
895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-7906
Phone: 805-549-3503 Fax: 805-788-3531


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Guess Who's At The Back Door...With A CDO And A Gun?

The following email came yesterday. Since the deadline’s April 8, don’t know if there’ll be much chance for public meetings and information. And if Roger Briggs will be overseeing this new plan, poor SLO County. The folks down in Nipomo who have been sneering at Los Osos and the plight of the Los Osos 45 will soon find their laughter stuck in their throat. Will we have lots of PZ’s scattered around the county? Dozens of Los Osos 45’s? Ah, there’s something positively karmic about this, I must say.

Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board - NEW - Onsite Regulations:
CCW-PZLDF will provide a briefing meeting Monday March 24th 7:00 at Washington Mutual Bank, Los Osos.

Please send out to your colleagues to begin reading through the Basin Plan Revisions to onsite. PUBLIC COMMENT DEADLINE IS APRIL 8TH....NO LIST SERVE NOTICE!

While the Basin Plan update for onsite is important for the ability of the RWQCB to protect the waters of the state, it is vital this rogue board follows the law is not allowed to further abuse its regulatory powers. The basin plan revisions concerning onsite systems are long overdue.

However, all efforts from the community and the District to work cooperatively with Water Board Staff have been forwarded countless times, and were rejected. The Citizens for Clean Water-PZLDF has worked toward offering acceptable language for Basin Plan resolutions and updates, as well as work-plans and assistance in updating and strengthen the onsite regulations in lieu of the adverse punishment.(ACL fines the CDO's and settlement CAO's). These efforts for public participation in actual water quality protection and improvements were rejected in order to make a "poster Children" examples of the community of Los Osos.The timing of the revisions and our citizen lawsuit challenging the individual enforcement and constitutional protections make this sudden update very suspect.

The effort to put in place new resolutions that would supersede 83-12 and cover for the lack of a "illegal" resolution, which was used to justify enforcement in Los Osos under 83-13 is obvious to those watching Los Osos. These actions promulgate power to use the same enforcement tactics against individuals, to create a revenue stream in three counties--and must be challenged.

The RWB3 revisions to onsite are especially onerous to individual property owners throughout the entire region. The water board seeks to expand their discretionary power in every resolution. However, the entire tri county region 3 ought to be really wary and against some of these provisions. They are actually acting as the final authority on land planning.

Just one example is the 5 unit parcel developments will require a community system, and no granny units will be allowed without adding another acre.WDR are either implemented or waived, but if there isn't a system to hook up to, and you are on septic, it may become an automatic PZ--no CEQA, no economics, or scientific findings are required, the findings states enough already has been done and the impacts minimal!!!!

This is the same tactic that got Los Osos in the noose, but even more dangerous.Please send this out to the other communities in region 3 and the State organizations.The RWQCB backdoor version of the defunct AB885 is anti-property rights, anti-affordability, (eliminates affordable housing in rural areas), forcloses on environmentally sound green solutions, and steps way beyond the scope of water protection to land planning---this is another power grab for an out of control board that has no oversight.

Citizens for Clean Water

Guess Who’s At The Back Door, Part II

Hmm, more mice? (From a recent email)

Subject: ALERT - Coastal Protection is Under Attack - Please act now

COASTAL PROTECTION IS UNDER ATTACK: SB 1295 - Ducheny - would rob the public and the Coastal Commission of the ability to appeal local development permits SB 1295 would eliminate the ability of the Coastal Commission to appeal permits. The ability of Coastal Commissioners to appeal local permits is one of the most critical oversight aspects of the Coastal Act. To eliminate this function would tear out one of the fundamental pillars of the Coastal Act. While appeals from members of the public are important, citizens and non-profit groups simply do not have the resources or the ability to monitor every single one of the hundreds of local permits issued throughout the coastal zone and appeal the significant ones within a very short 10-day time frame and become involved so that they have standing to appeal.

It would require that members of the public monitor all permits issued in every coastal city and county, comment on them to obtain standing to appeal and then have the background and knowledge to know if they raised a significant coastal issue based on the Coastal Act, Commission precedent and court decisions.

As a result most development permits would go un-noticed by members of the public. If this bill passes, many important local permits dealing with issues relating to public access, wetlands, water quality or habitat will go unnoticed or un-addressed at the local level. Commission staff must receive notice of these actions and under the present law, can appeal them by having 2 Commissioners sign on to an appeal. Once appealed, the public has an opportunity to address issues of concern to them.

If Commissioners were unable to appeal these projects, dozens of projects every year would fall through the cracks. If the appeal ability of commissioners is removed, these developments will go forward, un-noticed, until the development presents itself and its impacts. At that point it will be too late.

Environmental groups are stretched thin already and cannot afford to allow this bill to pass. It is supported by those who are opposed to any oversight by the commission of local decisions and would eliminate an important component of coastal protection and one of the reasons Proposition 20, the Coastal Initiative, was passed.

Please take the time to write to Senator Steinberg, Chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee and fax it to him. Tell him you oppose the bill and send a copy to Senator Ducheny.

Below is a sample letter. However, it is always best if you put this in your own words.

Senator Darrell Steinberg, Chair Senate Natural Resource Committee: 916-323-2263 (fax)
Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny: 916-327-3522(fax)


Dear Senator Steinberg:I am writing to express my strong opposition to SB 1295. This bill will severely limit the public's ability to track and be able to appeal development projects that may have both individual and cumulative averse impacts on coastal resources. The current process allows the professional staff of the commission, which receives notice of all approved projects, to review these projects for their possible adverse impact. It is not possible for the public to monitor and be aware of every proposed project. In addition, the public does not receive adequate notification of these projects and in order to have standing to appeal they must be "involved" in them prior to the final decision. This is simply not feasible. On the other hand the Commission gets notified of all of local actions, staff reviews them and flags the problematic ones. Then they notify two Commissioners, as required by the Coastal Act, who may agree to bring the appeal before the entire Commission for consideration. Because the Commission cannot force locals to update their LCPs, or force them to comply with its policies, the appeal process is literally the ONLY oversight the Commission has over local coastal development permits. In the 33 years since the Coastal Act was approved there has never been one case where it can be shown that the commission abused this authority.This bill directly undermines the intent of Proposition 20, approved by the voters, and the Coastal Act, which was to have state oversight of development along the coast. It is nothing more than a frontal attack on Coastal Protection and should be denied.

Dear Senator Darrell Steinberg and Members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee,

I am writing to strongly oppose Senate Bill 1295 and to urge you to consider the effects that this bill would have on our valuable California coastal resources. The Coastal Act is central to protecting the quality of California's world-famous coastal environment, which supports our state's economic engine including tourism, agriculture, fisheries, and recreation. Every year millions of Californians visit the ocean for work, education, and play. We depend on the California Coastal Commission to protect these resources by allowing the Commission to appeal local development permits that do not comply with the Coastal Act or that might threaten our coast – and in fact, we consider this to be one of the most important roles of the Coastal Commission. It is unreasonable to expect private citizens to bear the burden of monitoring compliance with the Coastal Act for the length of California's coastline in order to file appeals on inappropriately designed or located projects that threaten the sustainability of our coastal environment and economy. The extraordinary pressures on the coastal environment, and its sensitivity, means we need and value this role for the Coastal Commission. SB 1295, prohibiting the Coastal Commission from doing its job, will result in proliferation of many inappropriate development projects that threaten our coastal resources and beloved coastal places.Please reconsider, and vote no on SB 1295.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Is That A Registered Sex Offender You're Driving Around With Or Just Daddy?

In a recent Tribune Viewpoint, Senator Abel Maldanado tried to defend his proposed legislation to make convicted Sex Offenders attach a license place to their car identifying them as convicted Sex Offender. The original proposal stirred up a lot of letters-to-the editor. My first reaction to the proposed law was laughter. I thought it was some kind of satirical joke.

That was followed by, "Uh, Whaaaaa?" when I realized Senator Maldonado was serious.

Years ago, when you could go to the Sheriff's office and look up paroled sex offenders on the computer screen, I did so and asked, "So, that's where so and so is living?" "Uh, no," said the officer, "That's just the last known address. This thing doesn't get updated too often, so we actually often don't know where any of these guys are actually living at any given moment."

I didn't then ask, "So what's the POINT of this swell computer information if parents are getting out-of-date info and don't know it and so are living in a fool's paradise thinking they've got threats to their kids pegged, when, in reality, the guy in question actually moved next door to them but just hasn't gotten his new address into the computer yet?"

Indeed, in his Viewpoint, Mr. Maldanado states, ". . .I doubt there are any parents who go on the Megan's Law Web site and are lulled into a false sense of security if they see there are no registered sex offenders in the nieghborhood." Uh, if that's the case, what's the point of the computer tracking if nobody's fooled by it's lack of reliability?

And that's the problem with both Megan's Law and now Mr. Maldonado's licence plate scheme. Unless every paroled sex offender in the country is required to wear a GPS device that's constantly broadcasting real time whereabouts to a live computer website somewhere, this whole exercize seems pointless.

The sad, sick, scary reality is that sex offenders, like other criminals, are somebody's Dad, Step-dad, brother, Uncle, priest, scout troop leader, teacher, business owner, guy on the street. The incidence of "stranger" abduction is only a very, very small part of the molester pie. The biggest threat isn't from monsters leaping out from bushes in the dead of night, but from known family/friends/neighbors.

So how would making Dad put a special license plate on his car alert anyone to anything? Suppose the family had only one car? When Mom drives anywhere, should she slap on one of those magnetic door signs signs saying, "Don't Look At Me -- It's my Husband?"

And, are we to tell our children, "Oh, by the way, before getting into the car with your neighbor, Mr. Jones, be sure to check his license plate?"

If the point of this bill is to set up one more "hoop" that likely will be impossible to jump through in order to revoke & impose longer add-on sentences on sex offenders, then maybe a better idea is to rethink our sentencing laws concerning sex crimes. If we, as a society, believe that such offenses are "incurable," then maybe we need to make sentencing for such crimes Life Without Possibility of Parole, instead of trying to create all kinds of ways to end up with a "de facto" life sentence, i.e. booby-trap life outside prison for sex offenders with so many traps they can't possibly help but step into one of them and so be bounced back into prison.

Meanwhile, on a far nicer topic

Was downtown yesterday and stopped into G's Italian Freeze shop on 1126 Morro St., a few doors down from the Democratic Party's offices, across from the "alley-way" entrance of the Barnes & Noble Bookstore/"underground" center.

Woa! If you like "All Natural Refreshing Fruit Freezes," like "Italian Ices," ya gotta try these. They have a tangelo freeze that's perfectly balanced -- not too sweet, with a rich, complex flavor - and if you like tart and sour, try the Limon -- Meyer lemons & limes in a freeze that's breathtakingly, squinch-your eyes, tongue shivveringly tart -- wooooo! Beyond yummy.

The owner's been showing up at the Thursday's Farmer's Market, so look for him there or stop by the shop. They're open 11-5 weekdays, Fri & Sat 11 to six-6:30ish. Summer's coming so it's time for a perfect --Yum times 10!!-- treat.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Permit Me, Please

The following email exchange took place between myself and Mr. Tom Murphy. I had received an email cc noting that the county had issued Mr. Murphy a “permit” for his Reclamator, which he had installed in his home. Tribune even had a photo and story on the installation.

Mr. Murphy’s e-mail 1

Barry Tolle, County of San Luis Obispo Building Permit Department, contacted my attorney yesterday, Patrick Sparks, to inform him that he had received a call from Harvey Packard, Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Section Manager and Enforcement Coordinator, advising him to issue a permit for the RECLAMATOR.
Best regards,
Tom Murphy

My email reply to Mr. Murphy:
Mr. Murphy, it's not clear from this: Was this a county permit to install a "septic tank" -type device, the same kind of county permit I got, for example, when I put in a new leachfield, signed off by the County since it's not a "new" device, merely a "replacement" device (i.e. I wasn’t adding any bathrooms.)
Or was this an official RWQCB "discharge" permit from the RWQCB allowing you to "discharge" whatever is "discharged" with set nitrate levels and other levels, plus testing requirements and etc, like the "discharge" permit granted to the (recalled) CSD for Tri-W/Broderson "discharge" site?.
It's my understanding that until 2011 people in the PZ are free to replace "septic type devices" and leachfields to their heart's content. (no new ones allowed, just replacements, repairs, etc.). After 2011 (or whenever the whim strikes Mr. Packard), anyone not hooked up to the sewer will be getting CAOs, or whatever Harvey wishes to send them.
In short, there's "permits" and then there's, uh, . . . "permits." and it's not clear to me from this email, which one you're referring to.
Thanks for any further explanation.

Mr. Murphy’s reply:
Good Morning Ann,
Some basic facts you must know first:
Harvey is a liar.
He has no authority to act on what he says.
The Water Board is not long for this world as there is no more “discharge” to permit. (I will forward you an email I sent to Lisa and Steve last night)
The Water Board doesn’t have any authority to “issue” any permit on an individual dwelling, only to a government agency.
The only permit required for the RECLAMATOR is a “building permit”, which is what I have.
The RECLAMATOR is connected to the LOCSD’s publicly owned sewer system.
This establishes the demise of the County sewer project as now one of two precedents are about to be set, both of which stops the funding capability of the County project.
The LOCSD will now be obligated to issue to me an “Exemption from Required Connection”, or
The LOCSD will now be obligated to issue to me “payment for my harvest water” produced by the RECLAMATOR.
Either of these STOPS the County project from happening as now the achilies heel has been cut, their ability to gain financing for the project.
You may ask how? The standard requirement for a public entity to borrow (bond) a sewer project is to provide the lender a “guarantee” of 100% hookup of all DUEs within the to-be-sewered area. They CAN’T do this anymore as anyone will have the right to install the RECLAMATOR. Once the RECLAMATOR is installed on private property there is no revenue to pay for the sewer project (as all money has to come from the people as the government has no money). With a RECLAMATOR:
The government entity will be obligated to “pay” the homeowner upon a “required hookup” to receive the homeowner’s water; the homeowner doesn’t pay the government for sewer service.
Any homeowner currently connected to any government provided sewer service now has the choice to “disconnect” from a sewer service, install the RECLAMATOR and stop paying the government entity anything in regards to a publicly provided sewer service.
Once you understand this, which has been my goal to achieve since I got here knowing what this does, you will understand the Water Board no longer has any power to do anything to anyone who has a RECLAMATOR.
The County sewer project is already “dead” and all they are doing now is burning up the money they currently have access to. They can’t implement the 218 assessment as it is unlawful and we have already pointed it out (thus the reason you have not already recienved the assessment which was suppose to be placed on your property at the end of the year last year, and wasn’t for this reason.
Hope this explains it. I will invite you over to see the RECLAMATOR in action very soon.
It is already over as the first domino tipped and has started falling and there is no stopping it now……
I will have the permit particulars faxed to Mark today for all to see. It actually is a permit for the entire Los Osos project which we submitted 5 months ago to the LOCSD.
Have a GREAT DAY!!

And my reply, again:
Thanks for your reply. A follow up question or two:

1. Didn't the CSD get an ACL & multi-million dollar fine for "discharges" against their communal Bayridge Estates septic "discharges," and as a Bayridge home-owner, won't the share of that fine have to be paid by each homeowner in Bayridge?

2. Was or has the CSD been given a "discharge" permit for the Bayridge collective "discharges" by the RWQCB? Since each homeowner is hooked up to the collective system, you claim that the RWQCB didn't (or can't?) issue an individual CDO against each homeowner since the CSD is, I guess, legally responsible for the collective tank and collective "discharges." But I presume the RWQCB can issue a discharge permit to a government agency, in this case, the CSD. Did they? Have they? Will they?

3. The statement that the Water Board doesn't have authority to issue any permits to individual dwellings is true, but they’re working hand in glove with the County. As for their ability to issue CDOs and CAOs against individuals, (rather than a public entity), that remains remains, for me, unproven in court. I don't know if the PZLDF case will settle that matter or if it will take another case in another court. I also don’t know if the PZLDF case will settle just what a “discharge” is, but I've maintained that SOMEBODY needs to settle that authority,(and those definitions) sooner rather than later. So, until that happens, I'll remain highly skeptical on that claim.

4. Why would you connect your Reclamator to the Bayridge collective system? I thought the whole point was it didn't need to be connected to anything? That whatever is "discharged" out the end of it is usable water that can stay on your property, to be used as you see fit. And if you have connected it to the central system, how can you "test" your "discharges" or do any soil testing or whatever to "prove" whatever you need or want to prove, if whatever you're "discharging" simply goes down a pipe into the collective holding tank and thence into the two collective leachfields? I don't get that. The Tribune gave you a "bouquet" (March 7, "The Reclamator needs a test drive,) but if you're hooked up to the Bayridge system, how can you "test drive" anything?

If your tactic was to put the water into the system, then charge the CSD for the value of that water, why wouldn't the CSD consider that merely a personal option? Since you claim the Reclamator doesn't "discharge" waste it doesn't need any kind of "permit" from the RWQCB and therefore is under no threats whatsoever, you're under no obligation (or threat) to hook up to anything. Since that's a "choice, why wouldn't the CSD simply say, No thanks, we won't allow you to hook up, we're not buying your valuable clean water, and since your Reclamator doesn't "discharge" you don't need to hook up to anything.

Anyway, hope you can clarify some of my further questions. Also, I'd like to post this email exchange on my blog, but will need permission to do so. I've lined up the emails so they make a coherent whole. I'll be out of town for a few days, so will hold all this until I receive your permission.


And Mr. Murphy’s email:

The Water Board doesn’t have any authority to “issue” any permit on an individual dwelling, only to a government agency.
The only permit required for the RECLAMATOR is a “building permit”, which is what I have.
The RECLAMATOR is connected to the LOCSD’s publicly owned sewer system.
This establishes the demise of the County sewer project as now one of two precedents are about to be set, both of which stops the funding capability of the County project.
The LOCSD will now be obligated to issue to me an “Exemption from Required Connection”, or
The LOCSD will now be obligated to issue to me “payment for my harvest water” produced by the RECLAMATOR.
Either of these STOPS the County project from happening as now the achilies heel has been cut, their ability to gain financing for the project.
You may ask how? The standard requirement for a public entity to borrow (bond) a sewer project is to provide the lender a “guarantee” of 100% hookup of all DUEs within the to-be-sewered area. They CAN’T do this anymore as anyone will have the right to install the RECLAMATOR. Once the RECLAMATOR is installed on private property there is no revenue to pay for the sewer project (as all money has to come from the people as the government has no money). With a RECLAMATOR:
The government entity will be obligated to “pay” the homeowner upon a “required hookup” to receive the homeowner’s water; the homeowner doesn’t pay the government for sewer service.
Any homeowner currently connected to any government provided sewer service now has the choice to “disconnect” from a sewer service, install the RECLAMATOR and stop paying the government entity anything in regards to a publicly provided sewer service.

And Mr. Murphy’s further reply
Hello Ann,
You may run anything you want…thanks for asking, I appreciate it.
I hope you had a good time during your travels. I don’t recall your 3/8 mail but I’ll look for it.
In regards to “permits”, we received a “building permit” to install the RECLAMATOR. The RECLAMATOR doesn’t require a “discharge permit” as the RECLAMATOR doesn’t “discharge” as it is demonstrated to produce “reclaimed water” which contains “nitrates” of less than 7 mg/l (the established “effluent limitation” for the prohibition zone). This means anything over “7” is “effluent” (which is “wastewater”) or a “discharge of waste” and would be subject to “discharge permit” requirements because anything over “7” is considered a “pollutant”. Because my water quality is far less than “7”, there is no “discharge”
I know Gail McPherson has totally confused everyone in LO telling them “discharge” means ANY discharges (most people believing this to also include potable water…, not true). She was wrong, probably because she listened to Briggs or Packard who don’t know what they are talking about and are totally out of bounds of the law with their authoritative actions and statements.
The term “discharge” when used without qualification, means discharge of a pollutant or discharge of pollutants. (USC 33/26 Sec. 1362) When I claim the RECLAMATOR doesn’t discharge and therefore needs NO discharge permit, this means (in the wastewater industry) doesn’t produce pollutants which are of a level which is considered to be “pollutant”. This limit is defined in the US EPA Standard for drinking water. The MCLG states these are non-enforceable public health goals. The RECLAMATOR achieves this goal.
Harvey Packard told the county to permit the installation of the RECLAMATOR (because they had to and didn’t have any choice). Now, we are telling the LOCSD, County and the Water Board “one of them” is going to need to give me an exemption from required connection to the LOCSD’s sewer system or start paying me for my “harvest water” produced and taken from me by the LOCSD.
Have a great day…

Well, there it is, for now.

And so, THWOK! The ball is now in the RWQCB and/or the CSD’s hands. Will they issue an “exemption” from hook up; will they issue a “discharge” permit and if so, what “discharges” will be permitted, ie. So many mgls of this and that, what will it cost per year and require, vis a vis testing & etc.? Will they issue an exemption or discharge permit before or after the sewer’s built, i.e. stall and delay and ignore Mr. Murphy – hey, they’re busy with Morro Bay’s nitrate levels, we’ll get back to you after 2011 or so – and pretend not to notice until after the whole town’s sewered THEN either issue Mr. Murphy a CAO or, heh-heh, decide that, sure, heck, we’ll give him a “discharge” permit, heh-heh, we were just kidding about “discharges” and not permitting any onsites in the PZ?

This is a political football that can stay in the air for years! So, stay tuned.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Crunch Time

The following was sent by a friend. It’s a bit long, but interesting. None of the speculation or concerns, however, will meaning anything unless the American people elect members of congress who will stop drinking George Bush & Cronies’ Trickle-Down Kool-Aide and begin to think both outside the box and down the road. Then, maybe things will start getting done. Maybe.


Obama and Clinton plan to cool it

Earth, that is. Our energy expert cracks open the Democratic candidates' proposals on global warming--and is impressed.
By Joseph Romm, Mar. 15, 2008.

The most important call for the next president won't come at 3 a.m., and it won't involve military security.

The gravest threat to the American way of life is posed by unrestricted greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Global warming threatens to put the Southwest into a permanent drought, raise sea levels by 6 or more inches a decade, generate hundreds of millions of environmental refugees at home and abroad, wipe out half the planet's species, and increase average temperatures in the nation's interior 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit. And these impacts would likely get steadily worse for hundreds of years or longer.

No enemy, foreign or domestic, poses a threat to us that is so devastating, so irreversible. Top climate scientists tell us the threat might be all but unstoppable if the nation and the world don't take serious steps over the next decade to restrict GHG emissions. For all the urgent crises the next president has to deal with in the middle of the night, the most important calls he or she will have to make concern how to stop global warming.

We've seen that a President McCain is not likely to be the leader this country and the world need to maintain the planet's livability for our children and the next 50 generations. What about a President Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama? Both would be a giant step forward. Unlike McCain, they have both put out detailed and comprehensive plans. ( . . . . .) Although you wouldn't know it from the media coverage, these plans are more important to the long-term health and well-being of future generations than the candidates' healthcare or Iraq plans.

Before I look in depth at them, the first thing to make clear is that no president, not even a modern-day Lincoln or FDR, could possibly stop global warming even by their second term. The increase in concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases is primarily what determines how much humans will increase the planet's temperature. To stop concentrations from rising further, the entire planet will have to reduce total annual emissions at least 60 percent or more from current levels, including carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. Absent a World War II-type mobilization, that kind of dramatic change in the planet's energy system will take a few decades.

Even when concentrations stop rising, global temperatures will continue to increase for many decades because it takes a long time for the planet's temperature to come into equilibrium with any new level of GHG concentrations. Ultimately, by 2100, we will probably need net human GHG emissions to be close to zero, if not negative, to avert catastrophe. We can't stop global warming in the next decade.

Humanity's great challenge is to stop the warming before we cross key thresholds or tipping points, in which amplifying feedbacks in the carbon cycle start to seriously kick in and overwhelm human efforts to reduce emissions. A typical feedback would be the melting of the permafrost or tundra, which currently has locked away some 1,000 gigatons of carbon -- more carbon than the atmosphere is holding today.

If the permafrost stops being perma, that would release tens of billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere, much of it in the form of methane -- a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. That, in turn, would speed the temperature increase and the thaw of additional permafrost. In short, passing such a tipping point would set the planet on an all-but-unstoppable path to high concentrations of GHGs, destroying the planet's livability for centuries if not millennia, according to the latest research.

So we must sharply reduce emissions even as the population keeps growing, and do it in a way that increases, rather than hinders, economic development, particularly in undeveloped nations already wracked by poverty, disease, dirty water, hunger and other scourges.

This necessitates deploying all existing or near-term clean energy technologies today as rapidly as possibly, while shutting down or capturing the emissions of at least half of the dirty technologies. At the same time, we must accelerate the development and introduction of the next generation of clean technologies, which can ultimately take global emissions as low as possible by century's end.

A mandatory GHG control system that establishes a price for carbon dioxide emissions, such as a cap-and-trade system, is necessary. Both Clinton and Obama endorse a cap-and-trade system, requiring an 80 percent reduction in U.S. GHGs by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, much deeper than McCain has so far endorsed and close to what is currently believed necessary for our country and planet. Recently, McCain has also begun waffling about just how "mandatory" his program would be. Voluntary caps don't work and must be rejected.

Yet cap and trade is not enough. The next president has a great many important calls to make:

  • Appoint judges who will uphold laws to reduce emissions against challenges from the big polluters.
  • Appoint leaders and staff of key federal agencies who take climate change seriously and believe in the necessary solutions.
  • Embrace an aggressive and broad-based technology deployment strategy to keep the cost of the cap-and-trade system as low as possible.
  • Lead a change in utility regulations to encourage, rather than discourage, energy efficiency and clean energy.
  • Offer strong public advocacy to reverse the years of muzzling and misinformation of the Bush administration.

McCain is unlikely to do any of these five things. Obama and Clinton are likely to do them all. In particular, at least from my perspective as a former Energy Department official, the most important news is that both of them understand the necessity of the technology side.

Obama's plan states:

"Barack Obama will use some of the revenue generated from the cap-and-trade permit auction to invest in climate-friendly energy development and development. This will transform the economy and create millions of new jobs. Obama will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, invest in low emissions coal plants, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid. A principal focus of this fund will be devoted to ensuring that technologies that are developed in the U.S. are rapidly commercialized in the U.S. and deployed around the globe.

Both candidates also understand the importance of, as Clinton's plan explains it, "Changing the Way Utilities Do Business:"
"The current model for electric and natural gas utilities puts customers and utilities at odds on efficiency investments. Consumers benefit by spending less on electricity, while utilities actually lose money from every electron or cubic foot of gas saved through energy efficiency. As a result, utilities lack incentives to implement programs that would reduce demand, even if those efficiency programs are more cost-effective than building new power plants. Breaking this model would enable consumers and utilities to share in the benefits of efficiency, and when combined with a requirement that utilities take steps to reduce demand, would unleash tens of billions of dollars of investments in energy efficiency technology. To put this process in motion, Hillary would set binding energy efficiency targets for utilities at the national level. She would then encourage states to establish rate rules for utilities that both decouple electricity sales from utility profits and enable utilities to profit from investments in energy efficiency."

Both Clinton and Obama understand the current electric grid is too antiquated to capture all the opportunities for clean technology, such as distributed power, real-time energy management and plug in hybrids. So both propose to create a Smart Grid. Obama explains:
"... our energy grid is outdated and inefficient, resulting in $50-$100 billion losses to the U.S. economy each year. The 2003 East Coast blackout alone resulted in a $10 billion economic loss ... Obama will invest federal money to leverage additional state and private sector funds to help create a digitally connected power grid. Creating a smart grid will also help insulate against terrorism concerns because our grid today is virtually unprotected from terrorists. Installing a smart grid will help consumers produce electricity at home through solar panels or wind turbines, and be able to sell electricity back through the grid for other consumers, and help consumers reduce their energy use during peak hours when electricity is more expensive."

Clinton would even fund 10 "Smart Grid Cities," public-and private partnerships to deploy smart grid technology and plug-in hybrid vehicles on a large scale, to test and refine the possibility that plug-ins could communicate with the smart grid to sell power back to utilities when utilities most need it. Her plan notes, "Some experts believe that providing such 'vehicle to grid' power at times when the utilities need it most could be worth $2,000-4,000 dollars per vehicle per year, slashing the cost of owning a plug-in hybrid."

Yes, Clinton or Obama--and their advisors--have thought through the climate issue a great deal, including how to overcome the traditional barriers to residential energy efficiency. Clinton points out:

"Builders often neglect to make energy efficient investments because they add to the purchase price, even though they save money down the road. As President, Hillary will establish a 'Carbon Reduction Mortgage Association,' or 'Connie Mae,' by directing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to facilitate the origination of energy efficiency improvement loans in order to subsidize the additional costs of investing in energy efficiency from the outset ... The energy bill savings will ultimately offset the cost of the loan ... The program will target lower and middle-income homebuyers."

Clinton and Obama have aggressive efforts to boost vehicle fuel economy and shift the country to alternative fuels. You might be worried that this would mean a big jump in corn ethanol or maybe liquid coal, based on the fact that each of the candidates has, in recent years, lent support to both of those ideas. But the strong cap on carbon emissions will render those energy sources uneconomic. Also, Obama "will establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard to speed the introduction of low-carbon non-petroleum fuels. The standard, which Obama introduced in the U.S. Senate with Tom Harkin (D-IA), requires fuels suppliers to reduce the carbon their fuel emits by ten percent by 2020." That would be fatal to liquid coal and drive fuels toward low-carbon sources, such as cellulosic ethanol.

And Obama and Clinton would both take steps to ensure that U.S. car companies would have the financial strength to meet any new regulations. The Clinton campaign states:

"Hillary would authorize $20 billion in low-interest 'Green Vehicle Bonds' in order to provide immediate help to retool the oldest auto plants to meet her strong efficiency standards. She will address retiree health legacy costs by providing a tax credit for qualifying private and public retiree health plans to offset a significant portion of catastrophic expenditures that exceed a certain threshold."

Both recognize that solving the climate problem requires commitments from the large developing-country emitters. So, along with a commitment to reverse Bush policy and reengage with the U.N. climate process, both would create a new, more focused international forum. Says the Obama campaign:

"Obama will build on our domestic commitments by creating a negotiating process that involves a smaller number of countries than the nearly 200 countries in the current Kyoto system. Obama will create a Global Energy Forum -- based on the G8+5, which included all G-8 members plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa -- of the world's largest emitters to focus exclusively on global energy and environmental issues."

Perhaps most important, both Clinton and Obama have said they will bring urgency from the very top of their administrations to the enormous energy problem. Clinton promises:
"She will create a National Energy Council modeled on the National Economic Council and the National Security Council. This new body will bring together disparate agencies in the federal government to put everyone on the same page and ensure that we all have the same priorities -- much like the National Economic Council does for the economy. The National Energy Council would be headed by a National Energy Advisor who reports directly to the President, and who is charged with coordinating the implementation of Hillary's energy and climate agenda across the Executive Branch."

Obama said in early February he would start working on a global climate effort as soon as he becomes the Democratic nominee (which at the time he probably thought would have happened already): "I've been in conversations with former Vice President (Al) Gore repeatedly, and his recommendation, which I think is sound, is that you can't wait until you are sworn into office to get started ... I think we need to start reaching out to other countries ahead of time, not because I'm presumptuous, but because there's such a sense of urgency about this."

Clinton and Obama understand this is not just about the environment, but also about jobs. Both have a clean-energy jobs training program. As Clinton describes hers, "The program would target at-risk youth, veterans, displaced workers, and would teach them skills to install and maintain energy efficiency and renewable energy technology." These are the high-wage jobs of the future. She believes "we have the potential to unleash a wave of private sector innovation and create at least 5 million new jobs from clean energy over the next decade." She sponsored a clean energy jobs provision that was included in the 2007 Energy Bill.

Yes, the plans are similar and comprehensive. I believe that, if enacted in total, they would work, would cut emissions sharply, while generating millions of new jobs and giving the United States leadership in what will certainly be the biggest industry of this century: GHG-reducing technologies.

Plans are, however, easy to write, at least for Democratic candidates. The two bigger questions are about leadership: Could Clinton or Obama get their plans enacted by Congress? Could they get developing countries, particularly China, to agree to GHG controls?

Each of these challenges is so huge and so unique, there is little in the record of either candidate that lets us know which is more likely to succeed. McCain failed twice in the Senate to win a majority for his climate bill, let alone earn the 60 votes needed to beat a filibuster by his Republican colleagues. In fact, the second time he tried, in 2005, he mustered only 38 votes, five fewer than he had the first time.

The first challenge is that conservatives are dead-set against virtually every single one of the strategies needed to fight global warming. They don't like the mandatory cap-and-trade system. McCain himself is telling journalists his mandatory program isn't a mandate, and asking them not to use the word. Conservatives don't even like long-standing clean energy tax credits, and McCain said he would vote against them. And they don't like funding for clean energy research and development and deployment programs, which have been gutted by conservatives going back to President Reagan and the Gingrich Congress, and including President Bush, who has tried to shut down many of the best federal programs. But they do like tax breaks for big oil, even when the oil companies are swimming in $123 billion in profits and record high oil prices.
That is why the U.S., once the world leader in all clean energy industries, is now a laggard in most of them. That is why China is projected to be the top producer of both solar photovoltaic cells and wind turbines by 2010. If you're wondering how the U.S. could generate millions of new jobs and make deep reductions in GHG emissions, while rejecting federal energy policies that have worked for every other country in the world -- well, you'll have to ask that question of Sen. McCain yourself, since I'm sure the traditional media won't.

So who would be better, Clinton or Obama, at bringing conservatives along? I suppose that depends on whether you think we need a fighter or an inspirer to do this next-to-impossible task. My guess is you need both. And many of the most important phone calls for the next president will be to members of Congress to secure their vote.

The second great climate challenge is getting China to agree to cap emissions by 2020. Given its rapacious pace of building coal plants -- a staggering 200,000 megawatts of fossil-fuel-based generating capacity (mostly coal) in the past two years alone -- China is sending a clear signal to the world that it cares as much about climate as the Bush administration. The only way to avoid catastrophic climate change is if the next president 1) gets a strong U.S. climate agreement in his or her first year to show the rest of the world we are serious about this problem; 2) makes an international treaty that includes China and India their top international priority in their first term.

I do think it matters to China a great deal that it become the world leader in clean technology. So if we embrace most of the Clinton and Obama strategies, we will be sending a clear signal to the world that we aim to pursue leadership in all the key technologies. That would make it more likely that China will get onboard. The nations that adopt a strong emissions reduction strategy must also establish a border adjustment for imported goods, so that countries like China won't perceive an economic advantage by continuing to be polluters.

None of this will be easy. Again, it will probably require a fighter and an inspirer. Someone who can make tough calls to foreign and domestic leaders. A president (and senior staff) who believes in the crucial role of government in restoring U.S. leadership in clean energy development, deployment and job creation. On these, the most important of issues, I think Clinton or Obama -- not McCain -- will make all the necessary calls.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Stuck At The Corner of Then and Now

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons, printed in The Bay News
Tolosa Press, SLO, Ca for March 13, 2008.

The Law in its majestic equality forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. --Anatole France

At the corner of Have and Have Not, the crossroads of Past and Future, a curious battle is brewing between long-time rancher, Dan De Vaul and SLO County over Whatever shall we do with the extremely valuable property at the corner of Develop and Not Develop, otherwise known as Foothill and Los Osos Valley Road.

Like so many farms and ranches in this county, De Vaul has seen his land rapidly get surrounded by high-end housing incompatible with farming and ranching. Owners of million dollar "ranchettes" might think their million-dollar views of a quaint "farm" are splendid until plowing dust blows in the window, followed by the scent of cow poop. And when the sound of recalcitrant tractors or chain saws coughing and whining in the dawn hours wake them up, "bucolic" isn’t the word that comes to mind.

Start with a years-long gleeful battle by a self described "irascible" De Vaul pushing-the-buttons of various County regulators over various code violations, permits and zoning issues-–with the County regulators pushing right back--then add into the mix the powder-keg arrival of about 50 recovering alcoholics/addicts, including convicted sex offenders, who set up a non-profit, self-help, live-in, certified California Association of Addiction Recovery Resources recovery program called Sunny Acres. The "clients" slept in a barn that had no permit for such use, and suddenly there was the perfect storm of straight-forward issues, hidden agendas, political manipulation, delicious grandstanding, not-so secret fears, moral loathing and class warfare, economic pressure, civil shirking and buck-passing and finally a tent city once again blooming right next to LOVR for maximum in-your-face public exposure.

While the De Vaul battle may be seen as entertaining or annoying, it does bring to public consciousness a growing problem in our beautiful but expensive, rapidly upscaling, soon-to-be totally unaffordable community: Whatever shall we do with the poor, the sick, the halt, the lame, the broken, the broke?

Traditionally, the poor, the homeless, the down-and-out were shoveled into the poorest parts of town to various "Midnight Missions" located in low-cost "Skid Rows," out of sight, out of mind. But where, in this County, is there anyplace that can be defined as "affordable" that hasn't already been snapped up by developers or penciled in at the Planning Department, property all ready to be developed, renovated, repaired, rebuilt, renewed, upscaled and resold--at very high prices?

And where, in this County, do people go to get live-in drug and alcohol treatment services? County General was closed long ago. And the people who break and need time to repair, where do they live if they have jobs that are always one paycheck away from the disaster of eviction? Or no job at all? Then when the County's broke, the State's broke, the whole nation's up to its eyeballs in debt, and economic reality means that "affordable" housing remains an unrealistic inside joke penciled in on planners’ blueprints, and universal health care still remains a dream, and NIMBYs see that integrated community-based mental-health/addiction treatment care centers never get built, then it's no wonder we saw DeVaul's ad-hoc compassion and the neighbors' economic/political power colliding at the corner of Foothill and LOVR.

It's a collision that now can have several endings. Mr. DeVaul could pull an "Alex Madonna" and threaten to build a piggery on his property–-it’s a working farm, after all. Maybe put in a few thousand chickens as well? Sell nice fresh bacon and eggs?

Or perhaps all the stake holders in this particular drama could agree on a win/win strategy: The county could partner on building and running a properly supervised live-in, clean-and-sober drug/alcohol recovery center, thereby bringing Sunny Acres into compliance with the various county regulations concerning permitted use of his property, the public could donate money, goods and services to help this whole enterprise, thereby demonstrating the compassion and care the people of this county are famous for, and the neighbors could finally acknowledge that "bucolic," in the real world, often comes with some unexpected and challenging realities.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Duh, Duh, Part Duh

The following excerpt is from The Week, February29, 08, from Susan Jacoby's new book, The Age of American Unreason -- the essay was first published by The Washington Post, and The L.A. Times-Washington Post News Service.

" . . . That leads us to the third and final factor behind the new American dumbness: not lack of knowledge per se but arrogance about that lack of knowledge. The problem is not just the things we do not know (consider the one in five American adults who, according to the National Science Foundation, thinks the sun revolves around the Earth): it's the alarming number of Americans who have smugly concluded that they do not need to know such things in the first place. Call this anti-rationalism -- a syndrome that is particularly dangerous to our public institutions and discourse. Not knowing a foreign language or the location of an important country is a manifestitation of ignorance; denying that such knowledge matters is pure anti-rationalism. The toxic brew of anti-rationalism and ignorance hurts discussions of U.S. public policy on topics from health care to taxation.

"There is no quick cure for this epidemic of arrogant anti-rationalism and anti-intellectualism: rote efforts to raise standardized test scores by stuffing students with specific answers to specific questions on specific tests will not do the job. Moreover, the people who exemplify the problem are usually oblivious to it. ("Hardly anyone believes himself to be against thought and culture," Hofstadter noted.) It is past time for a serious national discussion about whether, as a nation, we truly value intellect and rationality. If this indeed turns out to be a "change election," the low level of discourse in a coutnry with a mind taught to aim at low objects ought to be the first item on the change agenda. "

Have a nice Week. If you have little kids, read to them. If you have older kids, turn off the TV and hand them a book. Pick up one yourself. If you don't have kids but have a dog, take a walk. Give your dog a nice book to read. Weather looks good for the rest of the week. We live in Paradise. Smile.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

PZLDF's Day In Court, Again

Yesterday, Judge LaBarbara issued a Tentative Ruling and in lieu of a hearing requested all parties to submit objections in writing within 10 days to his Tentative Ruling. According to PZLDF attorney Shaunna Sullivan, most of the Los Osos 45 arguments were upheld (meaning they can chug along) but that several need either more documentation (originally lacking because the RWQCB was dragging their feet getting the record together and when it was finally received it was a mess) so that info will be gathered together and re-submitted and re-argued. In short, stay tuned.

According to Ms. Sullivan, one of the points in the PZLDF lawsuit isn't just to get fair, legal treatment of the Los Osos 45, but to ensure that the abuses in this whole CDO Enforcement process won't be visited upon everyone else in town. That is, the actual CDO recipients who brought this case could "win" and have their CDOs vacated because of proceedural blunders, BUT twenty minutes later Harvey Packard, staff member of the RWQCB, has full authority to slap CAOs on everyone in the PZ with absolutely no public hearings required, a "paper hearing only" with, of course, an SWB automatic denial of any "appeal" guaranteed, period, end of sentence. He's free to also change the date the fines start, in short has authority to bring any enforcement proceedures he sees fit. All that will be required is a rubber-stamp agreement when the Board again meets and that's that. It's THAT sort of regulatory abuse, with no checks and balances, that this PZLDF case hopes to correct. And correct it to protect everyone in the PZ. Not just The 45.

Sadly, too many in the community don't seem to "get that" wider issue.

Oh, Lucy, Now Jooooo Reeellly, Reeeeellly Gotta Lotta 'Splainin' to Doooo

Part Duh-Duh. Headline in the March 5 Tribune: "Los Osos Sewer Plans Move Ahead," and notes that the county has authorized contracts to chug ahead on the EIR update and . . . "The draft of the environmental report will analyze nearly two dozen potential sites for a sewage treatment plant -- at least four of them in detail."

TWO DOZEN? AT LEAST FOUR OF THEM? If you want to understand the tragedy of what happened here in Los Osos, those seven words say it all. Two dozen sites, at least four sites worth a serious look. Note the one key thing missing from that sentence, the one key piece of information given to this community repeatedly by our [recalled] elected officials: "Tri-W is the ONLY and BEST and LEAST EXPENSIVE site, all out of town sites are waaaayyy more expensive or can't be done. We have no choice but to go with Tri-W. "


Read it and weep.


Also of interest in the Tribune article is this: Part of the money from the assessment will be spent on ". . . establishing a plan to help disadvantaged property owners pay for a wastewater treatment plant." Right now, the state does have two programs available for people over 62, with disabilities and/or limited income( i.e. you don't have to be disabled just over 62, have at least 20% equity in your home, limited income & etc.). One program is a yearly flat payment and the other a program to defer property taxes until the home is sold. And if you sign up for both, the flat payment can be applied against the defered tax amount. Both programs need to be "splained" by the County as well as other strageties available. The deferred property taxes program would have to be also considered side-by-side with the appreciation rate of homes in this area (ignore the present "bubble" downturn. I've seen at least three of those things come and go and house prices always start back up and in this area, one simple rule applies: Most Beautiful Spot On Earth +No water = no growth = limited housing stock = supply & demand = high prices. So the figure to consider is appreciation versus any taxes owed versus having to move.)

Further info is at the State Franchise Tax Board ( and/or the State Controller's Office. ( (in hopes the link works)

At any rate, if you know anyone who might benefit from such help, let them know they need to start snooping early and often.