Category Archives: Letters to Editors

Letter to the Editor

Sabrina Brennan

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

 

California is shrinking

It’s time to accept that coastal California is shrinking. A new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists predicts chronic Bay Area flooding from rising seas as early as 2060. “Cities around the San Francisco Bay will begin to experience more frequent and disruptive flooding in the coming decades and will have to make tough decisions around whether to defend existing homes and businesses or to retreat,” said Erika Spanger-Siegfried, senior analyst in the Climate and Energy Program at UCS and a report author.

The Pacific Institute calculates that San Mateo County will lose more in property value than any other county in the state. Property damage in the county is estimated to be in the region of $39 billion, with sea level rise projected to affect more than 100,000 residents.

In July, the Mercury News reported that San Mateo and Marin Counties and the City of Imperial Beach filed a lawsuit in Marin County Superior Court. The suit alleges that, “major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, have known for nearly a half century that unrestricted production and use of their fossil fuel products creates greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes climate.”

The suit argues that 37 oil, gas and coal companies actively worked to “discredit the growing body of publicly available scientific evidence and persistently create doubt” in “a coordinated, multi-front effort.”

The suit asserts what many of us already accept as fact, that fossil fuel companies “have promoted and profited from a massive increase in the extraction and consumption of oil, coal and natural gas, which has in turn caused an enormous, foreseeable, and avoidable increase in global greenhouse gas pollution.”

Armoring the coast and building levees in the Bay will be an unimaginably expensive public undertaking, and that doesn’t include relocating highways, railways, airports, and other critical infrastructure.

Last month, the Guardian reported that Mayor Serge Dedina said that up to 30% of Imperial Beach could be affected by climate change. “As the lowest-income, highest poverty-rate city in San Diego County, we have no capacity to pay for the extensive adaptation measures.” Within 15 years flooding could affect tens of thousands of Marin County residents and cause upwards of $15.5 billion in property damage. “This lawsuit is intended to shift those costs back where they belong – on the fossil fuel companies,” says Marin County supervisor Kate Sears.

A well-funded army of lawyers is organizing to defend deep-pocketed multinationals that include San Ramon-based Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell, while at the same time the Plaintiffs continue to approve new development within sea level rise inundation areas. These new developments will add to the already huge cost of removal and replacement of hospitals, schools, airports, fire stations, police stations, ports, roads, railroad tracks, pump stations, sewage treatment facilities, power plants, utilities, hazardous material sites, and more.

As communities become dependent on costly levee systems to stay dry, and climate projections continue to worsen, we will soon be spending exponentially larger sums of money to protect development now being built in inundation zones. One good example is the 8-mile long levee do-over in Foster City that is now budgeted for $90 million. That levee must be rebuilt three feet higher or residents will be required to buy costly flood insurance.

In addition to suing oil companies our elected representatives have a responsibility to protect the public from the huge financial burden sea level rise will bring to coastal California. They can do this by using their powers to implement policies that limit development in known inundation areas and to prohibit future shoreline armoring in favor or wetland restoration.

Suing the fossil fuel companies is a great start to holding those responsible for the coming disaster to account, but that must only be a beginning. Without common sense and practical pragmatic legislating any legal action becomes nothing more than a show. If they really want to leave a lasting legacy current local legislative bodies must show through use of their powers that they have an understanding that development in inundation zones is literally pouring money down the drain. Anything less is going to be an expensive and complex disaster.

Sabrina Brennan is a resident of Moss Beach

This op-ed does not represent the views of the San Mateo County Harbor Commission

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Filed under Board of Supervisors, Carole Groom, Dave Canepa, Dave Pine, Don Horsley, Letters to Editors, Plan Bay Area, Sabrina Brennan, San Mateo County, San Mateo County Clerk to Supervisors, San Mateo County Harbor District, San Mateo County Manager, San Mateo County News, T. Jack Foster, Tax Payer's Advocate, Uncategorized, Warren Slocum

SMCHD Commissioner Sabrina Brennan not allowed to speak as a Private Citizen. Here is the real reason.

Sabrina Brennan has done it again, she has demonstrated that she looks out for the close to 800,000 residents and taxpayers of San Mateo County. She was concerned and she had good reason to be concerned. She was Not allowed to speak as a Private Citizen at the meeting, Here is her letter.

Dear Mayor Gupta, President Mattusch, Mr. Futrell and Mr. McGrath, 

 
I’m concerned about public safety and the safety of Harbor District employees.  
 
On Wednesday, Oyster Point Marina fuel system hazards were not discussed during a Special Meeting held at South San Francisco City Hall at 2:00pm. The meeting was specifically about the attached Draft Agreement.
 
The fuel system appears to be in extreme disrepair. As you know the fuel system is located in an area exposed to significant flooding. Please see the attached photo. 
 
The public and the unidentified people currently operating the fuel system are unaware of the safety concerns raised in the attached May 26, 2017 Fuel Dock Condition Assessment.
 
For years Drake Marine operated the fuel system at Oyster Point. Jim Drake sub-leased from Oyster Point Development. On Wednesday, I learned from Mike Futrell that the Drake Marine lease has been terminated. However some people are still operating the Fuel System at Oyster Point Marina.  I’m not sure who these people are but they don’t appear to work for Oyster Point Development (the current lease holder), the City of South San Francisco, or the SMC Harbor District.  
 
Who is providing oversight for the fuel system operation?  
 
Yesterday, I learned that the City of South San Francisco has performed a number of Fuel System inspections at Oyster Point. It’s my understanding that the Harbor District requested the inspection reports some time ago and has some of them but not the most recent inspection report. I would like to read all fuel system inspection reports including the most recent report. Please provide them unredacted. 
 
Yesterday, I also learned that Steven Miller, general counsel for the Harbor District sent a strongly worded letter regarding concerns about the fuel system at Oyster Point.  Please provide Miller’s letter unredacted.
Sincerely,
Sabrina Brennan

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Filed under Board of Supervisors, Carole Groom, Dave Canepa, Dave Pine, David Silberman, Don Horsley, John Beiers, John Maltbie, Letters to Editors, Sabrina Brennan, San Mateo County, San Mateo County Harbor District, San Mateo County News, Tax Payer's Advocate, Those Who Matter, Uncategorized, Victim's Advocate, Warren Slocum

San Mateo County’s Prosecution of Matthew Graves was Hateful & Vicious.

By Michael G. Stogner

San Mateo County’s Historical First Jury Trial of a Human Trafficking Case. Why was this case ever tried at this level in the first place? I want to be clear here, I’m talking about the prosecution only, what in the world motivated District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe to go forward with these charges. A 28 year old black man and father of a 4 year old daughter has been sentenced to 34 years to life in prison. This case does not involve 25 women forced into prostitution like the FBI Operation Dollhouse Sting did. It involved one woman and her statements.

The District Attorney is Elected by the people, they are responsible for his/her behavior.

DDA Melissa McKowan who should have been fired by Steve Wagstaffe 7 years ago is going to trial next month August 15-18 in San Francisco. The State Bar has charged her with 2 counts of Dishonesty. Think about that a San Mateo County Employee who prosecutes people is dishonest and has been for 7 years that we know of. How many innocent people have been convicted in San Mateo County because of this supported behavior?

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Filed under Board of Supervisors, California Bar Association, Carlos G. Bolanos, Carole Groom, Dave Canepa, Dave Pine, David Silberman, DDA Melissa McKowan, Don Horsley, John Beiers, John Maltbie, Letters to Editors, Prosecutorial Misconduct, San Mateo County, San Mateo County Manager, San Mateo County News, San Mateo County Sheriff Department, Steve Wagstaffe, Those Who Matter, Victim's Advocate, Warren Slocum

Concerned SMC residents, Please Attend  July 21, 2017 @ 2:PM Sentencing Hearing of Mathew Graves.

 

Google Prosecutorial Misconduct and my name, you will see some of my efforts to Eliminate Prosecutorial Misconduct in San Mateo County for the last 17 years. The leaders of SMC both elected and appointed have been warned, notified and asked to stop this, to date they have refused.

 

Editor,

Response to SMDJ article “Jury issues first-ever human trafficking conviction in county: Man found guilty of crimes stemming from Burlingame.”

By Anna Schuessler Daily Journal staff Feb 18, 2017

When I think about Human Trafficking of Underaged Sex Slaves in San Mateo County, Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos comes to mind. He was caught and detained as a CUSTOMER inside a single family residence located at 3474 Eldon Street, Las Vegas, Nevada on April 21, 2007 around 9:20 PM by the FBI and LVMPD. There were several women in the home.

The residents of SMC all know what our District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe thinks about “Those Who Matter,” being caught as customers of Human Trafficked Sex Slaves. Here is his e-mail I received from a FOIA request.

Steve Wagstaffe e-mail sent 4/25/07 10:20 AM

Greg and Carlos

Just a quick word of support from me as you go through a difficult time.

To those who matter, your decades of outstanding work in law enforcement

are all that count and your integrity is not the slightest marked by the

modern media’s efforts to make a story out of a non-story. Hard as it is

to think it now, remember it will be yesterday’s news and irrelevant by

tomorrow.

My positive thoughts are out there for both of you.

Steve

Mathew Graves turned down a 10 year prison term plea bargain because he had faith in our judicial system and he knew he was not guilty of the charges the DA charged him with. He faces 30 years in prison next Friday.

Michael G. Stogner

Monterey County

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Filed under Board of Supervisors, California Bar Association, Carlos G. Bolanos, Carole Groom, Dave Canepa, Dave Pine, David Silberman, DDA Melissa McKowan, Don Horsley, John Beiers, John Maltbie, Letters to Editors, Michelle Durand, Prosecutorial Misconduct, San Mateo County, San Mateo County Clerk to Supervisors, San Mateo County Manager, San Mateo County News, San Mateo County Superior Court, Steve Wagstaffe, Those Who Matter, Victim's Advocate, Warren Slocum

FEMA & BCDC Bullying Foster City, Why?

This is a Great Question, “Why aren’t communities throughout the entire Bay Area being mandated to do this?” 

Guest perspective: Foster City levee issue May 22, 2017, 05:00 AM By Linda Koelling 

The city of Foster City is confronted with upgrading sections of the levee to bring the current structure into Federal Emergency Management Agency compliance. The claim by FEMA is that a change in the sea wall or levee height is necessary to protect the ci­ty from flooding from future speculated storm surges. The correction is mandatory or the homeowners of Foster City will risk classification as being in a designated FEMA flood zone and required to pay flood insurance.

A recent guest perspective in the Daily Journal by T. Jack Foster questions the timing of this requirement. He states that Foster City’s lagoon system was designed to take care of excess water due to storm surges if they were ever to occur. Every winter the Public Works Department reduces the level of the lagoons to contain any excess rain or storm surge so the lagoon pumping system can move any excess water back into the Bay. The lagoon system was designed and well thought out to take care of any excess water incursion into the city both now and into the future.

Our levees are accredited for the 100-year flood level requirement. According to Mr. Foster’s guest perspective, the speculated rate of increase of Bay waters is calculated to be 1 inch per decade. Therefore the need to deal with concerns of water surge or sea level rise is years away if ever. So what are the real facts behind the need to comply with the very high cost to each of the citizens of Foster City for raising the levee now? What other Bayfront communities are being faced with this mandate to spend potentially $75 million or more.

Our city has withstood earthquakes when others thought we would sink into the Bay; we withstood recent high rain conditions without flooding when other nearby cities were not so lucky. My point is that Foster City is very well designed and maintained, and the lagoon systems and pumping capacities are not being taken into account by FEMA in calculating their worst-case, 100-year scenarios.

If FEMA were not enough to deal with, the Bay Conservation Development Commission, an agency created to protect the Bay, decided to get into the act. In addition to the calculation of storm surge possibilities by FEMA, BCDC has calculated that a sea rise for 2050 and 2100 will require that the city begin building a sea wall around our city now.

Interested citizens should look at the artist renderings of the solutions pending for Foster City. I think you will be appalled at the potential for this new enclosure of our city from the Bay waters. Why aren’t communities throughout the entire Bay Area being mandated to do this? Wouldn’t it make sense that the sea rise they have calculated also involve neighboring waterfront communities?

I believe there are important questions that need to be answered before we are bullied by FEMA or BCDC to meet a requirement that has little to no basis in currently collected data to support any immediate need to spend an enormous amount of money.

In 2011, as mayor, I received a letter indicating that regional governing bodies like BCDC were considering plans for the Bay Area that would significantly curtail city and county control over land use decisions in communities like ours. I saw at that time the drawings of a projected “great wall” around the entire Bay Area to protect against the anticipated sea level rise of epic proportions in a time far into the future.

It’s time the people recognize that these regional governing bodies composed of special districts, joint powers authorities, etc., lack the checks and balances of our government system and few people know who these non-elected board members are who make these broad stroked decisions. Little by little these regional boards and agencies have continued to amass power to usurp local control.

The residents of Foster City are faced with a hefty cost if we are strong-armed into moving forward with this project demanded by FEMA and now BCDC. City officials should ask more questions and provide the citizens of Foster City more answers. In particular, who funds this unfunded mandate? Should it be entirely on the backs of the residents? Should funding come from grants from the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority whom voters gave additional property tax money to for the next 25 years to save the Bay?

The residents of Foster City need to know the answers to these questions before writing the check for something that none of us will be able to prove whether we needed to do this now or not.

Linda Koelling is the former mayor of Foster City.

More Background

Here is the Letter by T. Jack Foster.

OP-ED: Is Foster City really in danger of floods?
May 02, 2017, 05:00 AM By T. Jack Foster 

 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is requiring Foster City to spend $75 million to raise their levees so that the city won’t be declared a flood zone. Such a designation would make it necessary for homes in Foster City with mortgages insured by a federal agency to acquire flood insurance. I’ve seen nothing that tells me how many such homes there are, but I would venture that there are very few. I’ve also seen nothing regarding the cost of the insurance. Since Foster City has been well-protected from floods by a system that has proved itself for over 50 years, I can’t imagine that such insurance is very expensive. So raising the levees would only save a few people from paying that insurance, at the cost of $75 million from homeowners.

Flooding has been the single biggest issue impacting the infrastructure of the city since the beginning. Not because of flooding from the Bay, since the levees have been in place since 1900. Rather, the problem was that the levees helped to trap the rainwater that fell on the land. The county’s engineer was concerned enough that he suggested the fill of the land should be raised high enough that rainwater would drain directly into the Bay. Aside from the economics of this idea, it was physically impossible. The soft underlying soil would not be able to support the weight of the fill.

The solution that was finally implemented was the lagoon system, which collects the rainwater, which then pumps out to the Bay when needed during rainy seasons. The holding basin of the system can hold over an inch of rain, though the pumps work as the rain falls.

This is the system which exists in FEMA’s so-called “flood zone.” FEMA’s fear comes from a potential rise in water levels of the Bay. At its current rate of increase, about 1 inch per decade, the need to deal with this matter is years away. When we do need to deal with it, it will be at high tide only, and only in small quantities of water. This water will run into the storm drain system and into the lagoon, where the pumping system will take care of excess water. Certainly, it is possible that this system can be overwhelmed by too much water. Good notice of this will be provided as the issue evolves, and we can raise the levees at that time, with a better view of the extent of the work needed.

T. Jack Foster Jr., along with his father and brothers, developed Foster City

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Filed under BCDC, FEMA, Foster City, Letters to Editors, Plan Bay Area, T. Jack Foster, Tax Payer's Advocate