Category Archives: Tax Payer’s Advocate

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 Community College District’s Board voting on $421,464 for Chancellor.

If you have something to say about this, this meeting has public comment available.

Tonight, July 26th the San Mateo County Community College District’s Board will be voting on the Chancellor’s contract & raise, essentially increasing his base salary to $421,464 (this doesn’t include benefits/bonus).
That’s an increase of over 38% ($117,000) in the last 3 years.

This salary is out of line with other local College Districts. The recently hired Chancellor of CCSF, with a much larger enrollment, was reported to earn $310,000. According to Transparent California, other 2016 Chancellor salaries (even including ‘other’ pay, but not benefits) for:
Foothill/DeAnza CCD – $338,000;
San Jose Evergreen Valley CCD -$266,000.

Taxpayers like you may have questions, like:
-Does the Chancellor also receive any or all of these ‘other’ pay benefits?
-Do you have written performance metrics or objectives that you use to determine the salary?

Below are email addresses for the Board if you have questions of your own:
mauricegoodman@gmail.com
rholober@yahoo.com
ukareme2@gmail.com
mohrt@smccd.edu
olguina@smccd.edu
mandelkern@smccd.edu

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Filed under San Mateo County, San Mateo County News, Tax Payer's Advocate, Victim's Advocate

San Mateo County Supervisors Throwing $1M at San Carlos Airport Noise Problem aka Surf Air.

AGILE AIRPORT COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST

The Board of Supervisors Meeting June 27, 2017 Agenda Item 4.

Almanac Article with public comments

Was the Measure A Oversight Committee aware of this?

Measure A Citizens Oversight

If you would like to communicate with the Supervisors, I recommend e-mail.

Supervisors Contact Info

RESOLUTION NO. .
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, COUNTY OF SAN MATEO, STATE OF CALIFORNIA

******
MEASURE K: RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING; A) AN AGILE AIRPORT COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST POSITION FOR A TERM OF UP TO THREE YEARS IN THE AMOUNT OF $150,000 PER YEAR (SALARY AND BENEFITS), FOR A TOTAL FISCAL OBLIGATION NOT-TO-EXCEED $450,000; AND B) THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS, OR HIS DESIGNEE, TO EXECUTE AN AMENDMENT TO THE AGREEMENT WITH VECTOR AIRPORT SYSTEMS FOR AN AIRCRAFT MONITORING SYSTEM, EXTENDING THE TERM TO JUNE 30, 2020, AND INCREASING THE AMOUNT BY $213,820 FOR A TOTAL FISCAL OBLIGATION NOT-TO-EXCEED $313,695; AND 1) THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS, OR HIS DESIGNEE, TO EXECUTE CONTRACT AMENDMENTS WHICH MODIFY THE COUNTY’S MAXIMUM FISCAL OBLIGATION BY NO MORE THAN $25,000 IN AGGREGATE, AND MODIFY THE CONTRACT TERM, SERVICES, OR MAKE OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES TO THE VECTOR AIRPORT SYSTEMS AGREEMENT SO LONG AS THE MODIFIED TERM OR SERVICES PROVIDED ARE WTIHIN THE CURRENT OR REVISED FISCAL PROVISIONS; AND C) THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS, OR HIS DESIGNEE, TO EXECUTE AN AGREEMENT WITH HUGHES AEROSPACE FOR THE TERM OF JULY 1, 2017 TO JUNE 30, 2020, IN THE AMOUNT OF $226, 800, TO REVIEW AND RECOMMEND FLIGHT PATHS INTO AND OUT OF THE SAN CARLOS AIRPORT, DEVELOP INSTRUMENT FLIGHT PROCEDURES FOR DEPARTURE FLIGHTS, AND EVALUATE INSTRUMENT APPROACHES THAT SUPPORT NOISE ABATEMENT PROCEDURES; AND 1) WAIVE THE FORMAL REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL PROCESS AND AWARD CONTRACT TO HUGHES AEROSPACE AS THEY ARE AN AUTHORIZED THIRD PARTY AIR NAVIGATION SERVICES PROVIDER FOR THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION; AND 2) ACCEPT OR EXECUTE, ON BEHALF OF THE COUNTY, ANY AND ALL NOTICES, OPTIONS, CONSENTS, APPROVALS, TERMINATIONS, AND DOCUMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH THIS AGREEMENT, INCLUDING CHANGE ORDERS AND PAYMENT UP TO A MAXIMUM AGGREGATE AMOUNT, NOT-TO-EXCEED $22,680, OR 10 PERCENT OF THE AGREEMENT AMOUNT ______________________________________________________________

RESOLVED, by the Board of Supervisors of the County of San Mateo, State of California, that

WHEREAS, in March 2016, this Board initiated a San Carlos Airport Aircraft Disturbance Study to look at options to provide meaningful relief for affected communities; and

WHEREAS, a component of this Study was to look at best practices of similar general aviation airports; and

WHEREAS, the County contracted with Aviation Management Consulting Group (AMCG) to develop a report on best practices to address aircraft community impacts. Included in this report is the recommendation to develop a comprehensive Noise Management Plan and to hire a dedicated community noise management staff position to address noise/operational issues, make personal contact with pilots and community members, provide outreach and education to the public and pilots, and to monitor and track noise complaints; and

WHEREAS, the implementation of Vector Airport Systems, an aircraft departure monitoring system, provides real-time flight track data, automates the integration of flight track data into the Airport’s noise complaint system, allows timely and efficient monitoring of complaints and aircraft operations, and provides additional security for the airport after-hours; and

WHEREAS, the County of San Mateo’s Ordinance 2.83.050(f) allows the Board of Supervisors to waive the Request for Proposal (RFP) competitive bidding process in any situation where the Board determines that a formal process would not be in the best interest of the County ; and

WHEREAS, Hughes Aerospace is one of only two organizations that are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for Public Third Party Instrument Procedure design, validation, and maintenance; and

WHEREAS, staff recommends this Board waive the RFP process as Hughes

Aerospace is uniquely qualified and has the experience providing this type of service to general aviation airports; and the only other provider is currently already engaged with the FAA on NextGen for larger airlines; and

WHEREAS, the subcommittee of the Board of Supervisors has recommended using Measure K funds for the Vector Airport System and an agile Airport Communications Specialist position for a term of three years to enhance the Airport’s ability to track, monitor and respond to noise complaints and operational concerns; and

WHEREAS, Measure K is a half-cent general sales tax initially approved by the San Mateo County voters (as Measure A) in November 2012 for 10 years and extended by the voters in November 2016 for an additional 20 years, to 2043.

WHEREAS, there are sufficient Measure K funds to support this request and funding is already appropriated in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 Recommended Budget.

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY DETERMINED AND ORDERED as follows:

  1. The hiring of an Agile Airport Communications Specialist position with total compensation up to $150,000 per year is hereby approved for a term of up to three years using Measure K funds.
  2. The Director of Public Works, or his designee, is hereby authorized to execute an amendment to the Vector Airport Systems agreement to extend the term to June 30, 2020 and increase total cost by $213,820 for a total fiscal obligation not-to-exceed $313,695 using Measure K funds.
  3. The Director of Public Works, or his designee, is hereby authorized to

execute contract amendments which modify the County’s maximum fiscal obligation by no more than $25,000 in aggregate, and modify the contract term, services, or make other administrative changes to the Vector Airport System’s agreement so long as the modified term or services provided are within the current or revised fiscal provisions.

  1. The Director of Public Works, or his designee, is hereby authorized to waive the formal competitive bidding process and execute an agreement with Hughes Aerospace in the amount of $226, 800 for a term of July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2020.
  2. The Director of Public Works, or his designee, is hereby authorized to execute on behalf of the County any and all notices, options, consents, approvals, terminations, and documents in connection with the Hughes Aerospace agreement, including change orders and payment up to a maximum aggregate amount, not-to-exceed $22,680 or 10 percent of the agreement amount.
  3. The Clerk of the Board of Supervisors: County of San Mateo, is hereby authorized and directed to attest the signature of the President of this Board of Supervisors to said written agreement.

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Filed under Board of Supervisors, Carole Groom, Dave Canepa, Dave Pine, Don Horsley, John Beiers, John Maltbie, San Mateo County, San Mateo County Clerk to Supervisors, San Mateo County Manager, San Mateo County News, Tax Payer's Advocate, 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

SMC Open House by MTC & ABAG Meeting May 4, 2017

San Mateo County Open House Sequoia High School

Multi-Purpose Room

1201 Brewster Avenue

Redwood City

Thursday, May 4

6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

San Mateo Daily Journal Article

MTC

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Filed under ABAG, MTC, Plan Bay Area, San Mateo County, San Mateo County News, Tax Payer's Advocate, Those Who Matter, Victim's Advocate

Where does a Senior apply for San Mateo County’s affordable Housing?

According to the Yes on K. Neighbors for Affordability and Quality of Life with major funding by Seton Medical Center and MidPen Housing Corp. FPPC#1387689 flyer.

County of San Mateo Measure K

To ensure San Mateo County Quality of life by retaining/improving critical facilities/services such as: Providing affordable homes for Seniors.

Where do Seniors apply? Not online on the County’s website, Why?

Do you just have to be a Senior?

Who is the contact person responsible for the applications? What is the qualification process?

I asked Supervisor Dave Pine these questions, He referred me to Michelle Durand Chief Spokesperson for San Mateo County, she answered

“The County does not have a waiting list for affordable housing.”

Here is a list of hoops to jump through.

Affordable Senior Housing

How to Find Affordable Senior Housing in San Mateo County

You may be eligible for affordable senior housing if you are at least 62 years old (or almost 62), can live independently, and are on a fixed income or have an annual income that is no more than 80% of the current Area Median Income.

1) Get a Complete List of Affordable Senior Housing

Find the list of “Affordable Rental Housing” from the Department of Housing (DOH) and look for developments that are listed as senior housing. 

2) Expect to Join Waiting Lists

Because there is not enough affordable housing for all the seniors in the County, you may need to join waiting lists instead of finding housing immediately. You may join as many waiting lists as you want, however, the more lists you join, the higher the chance that you will find something sooner rather than later. 

3) Make Lots of Phone Calls
  1. Using the list of affordable housing in the County, call the contacts (usually the property manager) for senior housing developments that you are interested in to find out about their eligibility requirements and waiting lists. 
  2. Call affordable housing developers who have senior developments in San Mateo County. Ask them if they have any open waiting lists at their existing properties; ask if they are building any new projects that will be accepting applications in the future; also ask about joining their “keep informed” list for future projects. 
  3. Call city housing staff to ask if they know of any new senior developments in their city that might be accepting applications in the future; also ask if it is possible to be put on a “keep informed” list for future projects. 
4) Consider other Options
  • ƒHousing Authority Programs – The Department of Housing home page (www.smchousing.org) contains the most up to date information.  Visit often to find out waiting list information or other housing opportunities. 
  • Shared Housing – One of the programs funded by DOH is a home-sharing program through HIP Housing that matches home providers that have an extra room or a separate unit available to a home seeker who is looking for a place to live. Click here for more information on the home sharing program.  

Waiting List Closed

San Mateo County Website

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Filed under Board of Supervisors, Carole Groom, Dave Canepa, Dave Pine, Don Horsley, John Beiers, John Maltbie, San Mateo County, San Mateo County Clerk to Supervisors, San Mateo County Manager, San Mateo County News, Tax Payer's Advocate, Those Who Matter, Warren Slocum