• Marge Ann Jameson

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    Readin’, Ritin’ and ‘Rithmetic … and Thinking

    By Marge Ann Jameson

    Classroom_View web

    Common Core State Standards have come to Pacific Grove Unified School District. Teachers and administrators are embracing CCSS and are looking forward to its implementation in 2014, and the anticipated results, in a big way as they attend a set of workshops scheduled before implementation of the standards in 2014-15.

    Common Core is a set of expectations that set out what students should be learning in language arts and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through the senior year in high school. Read more…»

    Coming soon to a website near you: Police Services Survey

    by Marge Ann Jameson

    In the seemingly endless search for the most efficient, yet most comprehensive, method of providing safety for the citizens of Pacific Grove, staff and the City Council have conducted studies, both internally and by outside sources, for both police and fire services.

    Currently sharing police services, the Council is still in search of the best plan for the City, and has decided to conduct a survey of what the citizens want as a part of the study. Read more…»

    ‘Central Coast Bandit’ Arrested

     

    Cristina Fenandez Padilla

    A woman identified as Cristina Fernandez Padilla, 50, of Watsonville has been arrested for a series of bank robberies along the Central Coast and in Modesto. Dubbed “The Central Coast Bandit,” Padilla is believed to have been involved in six robberies and one attempted robbery. Read more…»

    ‘Seagull Summit” Lessons, Suggestions

    by Marge Ann Jameson

    Lesson Number One: They are not “seagulls.” They are “Western Gulls.”Gull Guy

    That minute distinction doesn’t negate the fact that they are smelly, noisy, messy, and a potential health hazard. They steal food wherever they can – sometimes right out of children’s hands at lunch hour at the Pacific Grove Middle School – and are fiercely protective of their nests and their young. They prey on other species, some of which are near extinction, and they eat steelhead and oysters in the Monterey Bay Sanctuary. In other parts of Central California, they collide with airplanes, get sucked into jet engines, and swarm landfills. Read more…»

    Home Prices Up, Inventory Tight in Pacific Grove and Carmel

    by Marge Ann Jameson

    Home sales in Pacific Grove, tracked over the past five years, are now at a median of $619,800 and represent a 2.5 percent increase over June, 2013 and 4.6 percent over the quarter. The high was $740,000 in April, 2010, the low was $440,000 in December, 2011. Read more…»

    Roundabout at Holman Highway/Highway 1 intersection may be in the works

    Important gateway to Pacific Grove may undergo improvements, redesign

    As a condition of the approval of Pebble Beach Company’s Local Coastal Plan amendment, the company agreed to help fund improvements to the intersection at Holman Highway (Highway 68) and Highway 1. The City of Pacific Grove has been working with Monterey County, the City of Monterey, the Pebble Beach Company, Caltrans and the Transportation Agency of Monterey County (TAMC) on designs to improve that area, a bottleneck during certain hours of the day. Read more…»

    Bill Minor’s Inherited Heart: Book Review

    “I grew up in a home where legends greeted one everywhere: on the walls…on book shelves…and in everyday speech…”
    – Bill Minor

    The Inherited Heart:
    An American Memoir
    By William Minor
    © 2012
    ISBN 978-1-935530-71-8
    Park Place Publications, Pacific Grove

    There’s an American proverb that claims, “A man who prides himself on his ancestry is like the potato—the best part is underground.”
    That’s probably the case for most of us, and gentle, unassuming, witty and self-effacing William Minor might claim it’s so for him, too. But if you’ve met him, or watched him perform, or read any of his prose or his poetry, you’d probably say the opposite is true of Bill. His ancestry, which he has the privilege of tracing back as far as the 1500s, all funnels down to the talented, generous writer, artist and jazz musician we know. He is the fruit of his family tree and the loving gardener of it at the same time. He says, “What a thrill, in the course of this project, to discover all of these relatives – distant or fairly close at hand – who were writers and left such remarkable accounts of their own lives! And to think that they, given the reciprocity of all things, are somehow part of me and I of them!” Read more…»

    Lower interest rates make public water more affordable

    The small town of Felton, an unincorporated area in Santa Cruz County, saw their original water purveyor, Citizens Utilities, purchased by Cal Am a decade or so ago. Read more…»

    Confusion on the desal front

    By Marge Ann Jameson for the 12/28/12 edition

    Recent articles in the local press have carried conflicting accounts of what is occurring at the Moss Landing Commercial Park. Did Nader Agha sell out his interest or did he take on a partner? Read more…»

    Judge reaffirms MPWMD position on additional water fixtures

    By Marge Ann Jameson for the 12/18/12 edition

    A Pebble Beach couple who sued the Monterey Peninsula Water Management district over water restrictions, fees, and home inspections lost their case in court when Superior Court Judge Lydia Villarreal ruled  in favor of the water district as to all counts. Read more…»

    OPINION: No $ for Mayors’ JPA. Pulling out is a better idea.

    As many feared, the Mayors’ JPA (Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority Board) is beginning to be expensive. Wednesday night, June 19 the City Council will consider an expenditure of $33,000 as Pacific Grove’s share of the costs of legal advice to the JPA Board, on top of $5,000 already appropriated as our share of a total budget – so far – of some $174,000 for the first year.

    We remain convinced that the Mayors’ JPA is redundant and expensive, as well as being “too little too late.” The Mayors have admitted that they do not have the expertise to undertake the question of water supply, so they seek to hire it done. Other agencies have been charged to do the same work, and instead of representing only 65.9 percent of the constituency as does the Mayors’ JPA, these other agencies represent the entire spectrum of ratepayers, both city residents and county residents.

    In fact, as Monterey Mayor Chuck Della Sala pointed out in his June 8, 2012 letter to California American Water, the “Monterey Peninsula Water Management District is the agency on the Peninsula charged with monitoring and managing our water supply. As a public agency with an elected body representing the entire Peninsula, the District should play a key role in solving our water crisis.”

    The same faces are at all the same meetings, including the Technical Advisory Committee. Ultimately the decision regarding water supply will rest with California American Water and the California Public Utilities Commission, which have already expressed a desire to use groundwater replenishment and aquifer storage and recovery as two points of a three-pronged system to provide water to the Peninsula. The Mayors’ JPA efforts at recommending those two systems is obviously a case of “preaching to the choir.”

    Cal-Am has already expressed their desire to “go it alone” without a public agency and build their own desalination plant. Why would they listen to the Mayors’ JPA?

     

    Pacific Grove has also undertaken an agreement with Moss Landing Commercial Park to build a desalination plant. (While allegedly set up to be a no-cost item for Pacific Grove, surely no one believes that will remain true in the long run.) Why are we participating in a potentially competing effort?

    The number of attorneys qualified to act in this capacity is woefully small in the Monterey Peninsula area, too. We already share our City Attorney with the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District. Part of the staff proposal involves the “concept of the JPA using our current City Attorneys at our meetings and as required.”

    We urge the City Council to, instead of appropriating $33,000 or even another cent to the Mayors’ JPA, withdraw from it at once. Our mayor and the mayors of the other five cities have serious problems at home and should be concentrating on those issues instead of duplicating the effort of others with more expertise, especially when the money could well be spent elsewhere in Pacific Grove.

     

    Police Chief Engles to retire in July

    Bare-bones budget is balanced

    ‘This is a remarkable budget,” said Councilmember Bill Kampe.
    Pacific Grove’s City Council OK’d the first draft of the fiscal year 2012/13 budget which was complete with five more hours for the Library, the agreed-upon increases in the City’s contribution to the Museum, and funding for deferred maintenance. It included keeping recreation programs such as the preschool and Adventure Camp. It did not include an admissions tax on the Aquarium, nor did it rely upon parking meters in the Retreat.
    The budget provides for a $406,000 reserve. There will likely be some shuffling of staff duties to increase efficiency as well. Read more…»

    Council balks at desal plant next steps

    By Marge Ann Jameson
    Despite reminders from City Manager Tom Frutchey that the deadline for filing for intervenor status is fast approaching – it’s May 26 – the Pacific Grove City Council balked at signing an agreement with Nader Agha’s Desal America and sent it back to their subcommittee for more exploration. Read more…»

    No surprises as Cal-Am files three-legged approach with CPUC

    Water purveyor requesting a ramp-up of rates approaching 2016 deadline

    Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency last Friday, April 20, the water purveyor for the Peninsula filed a project overview with the California Public Utilities Commission today, April 23, to build a small seawater desalination facility in North Marina and to purchase Groundwater Replenishment water from public agencies. That, along with aquifer storage of any excess water, will replace water curretnly being pumped in excess of state restrictions from the Carmel River. The desalination plant would have a capacity of about 5,500 acre-feet per year, while 3,500 acre feet per year is expected from the recycling facility.
    The proposed site is slightly north of the earlier approved site, plans for which have fallen through, and near the MRWPCA facility, which will make powering the desal plant easier.
    Slant wells are the preferred intake method, and Cal Am seeks to drill a test well soon.
    In the event that ground water replenishment is found to be either not timely or cost-effective, Cal Am seeks approval to build a 9,000 acre-feet per year desalination facility. That decision, said California American Water president Rob McLean in a presentation to Monterey Peninsula mayors, will be made in early 2015.
    Cal-Am is planning to make revisions to an existing Environmental Impact Report, trusting that a new “ground-up” report will not be necessary. A new EIR would seriously delay the project, and delay of any sort could result in rationing and skyrocketing bills to force cutbacks in usage.
    The project is not going to be cheap, but it was never going to be inexpensive. “We will be proposing a rate base offset of $100 million through a surcharge on customers’ bills,” McLean said in his presentation before the Mayors’ Joint Powers Authority meeting; sort of a pay-as-you-go during construction, intended to avoid sticker shock when the project is completed.
    If the PUC approves, customers will begin seeing the ramp-up beginning in the second half of the year 2013 when rates will rise, for the average bill, about 30 percent. Six months later, another 15 percent will be tacked on, and another 15 percent will show up on bills by the second half of 2014, after which rates should stabilize through 2016.
    Some 8800 low water usage customers who currently pay about $21.12 per month will eventually see their bills go to a range of $40 to $56 by year 2017. $17 to $24 of that is related to the water supply project.
    People in the 50th percentile, the median, currently pay about $28.90 and will see their bills go to $54 to $79 per month of which $22 to $33 is related to the water project. The average bill of $34.00 will go to $64 to $93 per month. There are also about 1300 customers who currently use 16 cubic feet of water per month and will see their bills go from $146.58 to as much as $198 or more.
    There are other capital costs which Cal-Am is passing on to ratepayers, such as the San Clement Dam project and the Sand City Desal plant, which is already online.

    Pretty Old the Movie is Pretty Wonderful

    By Marge Ann Jameson

    “So many people have so many stories,” says Walter Matteson, himself a teller of stories. “Verité documentaries often start out as one thing, and life happens. You’re constantly adjusting and developing as the story unfolds.”

    He is the director of a feature-length documentary film, “Pretty Old.” It’s about contestants in the Ms. Senior Sweetheart Pageant, held in Fall River, MA. He says it took him a little less than a year to find his characters and their stories.

    But Matteson doesn’t tell their stories. They do. They tell them through their actions at the 2008 pageant and their frank discussions with the camera, and thus with us. We see them donning their sequined evening gowns and their talent contest costumes, and we hear about their aspirations and the roadblocks life has put in front of them. We watch them from the day they arrive at the Hampton Inn where the event is centered, and we go backstage as they practice their dance routines and have their hair and make-up done. We learn about their motivations and their pasts . . . and we fall in love with them – and the pageant — much as Walter Matteson must have. That much is obvious as we watch the camera caress these adventuresome ladies strutting their stuff on the pageant stage.

    He concentrates on four of the 30 women, who range in age from 67 to 81, going to their homes which include the Virgin Islands, Houston, TX,  and St. Paul, MN and and following them through the days of the tournament.

    Phyllis lost her husband to Alzheimer’s and has had a heart attack. She speaks frankly about her relationship with her late husband, saying they were “married lovers,” and describes his final weeks, and how she climbed into his hospital bed to receive a heartfelt late kiss from him, on her arm.

    Francis has been diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer. She has faced it before, and continues to fight it, saying that she is not afraid of dying but worries about her 94-year old mother and her developmentally challenged son. She is a tap dancer.

    “You’ve got limits now, so what are you going to do?” one contestant asks. Tap dance, you want to answer. Don a Betty Boop costume and do a little boop-boop-e-do. Read more…»

    Whispering Oaks project approval is rescinded

    The Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Tues., Feb. 14 overturned their previous decision to approve the MST/Whispering Oaks project. The reversal came after more than 18,000 opposing signatures were collected by Fort Ord Rec Users and verified, enough to put the measure on the ballot before the people. A lawsuit had also been filed by LandWatch Monterey County on behalf of various environmental and recreation-oriented groups, which opposed the location, but not the project. Read more…»

    Opinion: A Tale of Two Cities + Response

    Was I the only one at the Pacific Grove Planning Commission meeting Feb. 2 who thoroughly resented the antics of those who opposed the application of the City to extend the hours at the Pt. Pinos Grill/Pacific Grove Golf Links? I don’t think so. Read more…»

    Cal Am discusses plans in closed-door meeting

    At a closed-door meeting today, Jan. 27, California American Water Company outlined for the select attendees what may be its ultimate plan for solving the Peninsula’s water woes before the looming 2016 deadline imposed by the State to replace water being overdrafted from the Carmel River. Read more…»

    Consultant study: Regional Water Project still most cost-effective; Scheduling and permitting analyses to follow

    By Marge Ann Jameson
    California American Water (Cal Am) ordered a study on the cost analysis of 11 water supply alternatives for the Monterey Peninsula, including Pacific Grove. The company plans to hold a public forum on the subject, set for Oct. 26, 2011.
    Cedar Street Times has obtained a copy of the report, dated October 5, 2011.
    In the cost analysis, RBF Consulting, authors of the report, outline the various alternatives which include some combinations of alternatives as well as stand-alone projects. Most have been suggested in some form or another, from various desalination plants (Marina, Moss Landing, Sand City, Monterey near the Naval Postgraduate School) to filtration plants and groundwater recharge.

    The Regional Water Project, a desalination plant at Marina with delivery to the rest of the Peninsula, is the project which has won State approval.
    Cal Am faces a Cease and Desist Order to cease pumping water for its customers from the Carmel River. By 2014, the company — and  those customers — must reduce use by 40 percent of what is currently used and by 2016 the reduction will increase to 60 percent of current use.
    It is important to note that the current report only includes cost analysis and does not include permitting and schedule impacts for the various alternatives.
    RBF advises that the permitting and schedule impacts report will follow.
    The analysis uses the current favored project, the Regional Water Supply Project – also known as the Marina desalination plant – as a basis for cost estimating, stating “It is clear that the estimate is based on an assumption that all of the supply wells . . . are slant wells and that the costs are in October 2012 dollars.”
    Demand for all alternatives except the last one, #11 in the list, is estimated at 15,200 acre-feet per year.
    The Regional Water Project, Alternative #1, with costs for construction, start-up, contingency and other allowances including cost of indebtedness comes in at $297,470,000 in RBF’s estimate. It adds an estimate for California American Water’s regional project facilities at $132,000,000 “most probable capital cost with contingency,” a high-end estimate of $156,000,000 and a low-end of $118,000,000.
    The cost cap for Cal Am had originally been set at $106,875,000 in the recent Settlement Agreement. That $107,000,000 includes conveyance facilities (pipes and pumps), a terminal reservoir, and an ASR system (Aquifer Storage Recovery).
    Adding the California American Water facilities costs of $107,000 to the capital cost of $297,000,000 for the Regional Water Project results in a total capital cost of $404,000,000 for the Regional Water Project. The result is a cost per acre foot per year (AFY) of $2680.
    Alternative #2 includes a lower-capacity desalination plant at Marina and groundwater recharge of advanced water treatment effluent from the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control authority’s regional treatment facility. The effluent would be used to recharge the Seaside aquifer. Cost/AFY: $2,980 Read more…»

    Shock as Golf Links loses $413,000

    By Marge Ann Jameson

    Shock and awe isn’t limited to the battlefield. It also might be used to describe everyone in the City Council chambers Wed. night, Sept. 21 as City staff presented unaudited financial results for the Pacific Grove Golf Links for the fiscal year which ended June 30, 2011. The City has lost some $413,000 on the goose that laid its golden egg.

    The City’s reserve for the golf course of $625,658 is now down to $143,658.

    The dollar amount pretty much blindsided the members of the Golf Links Advisory Committee, who have been hounding staff for a financial report for some months. It also surprised and angered the City Council members, one of whom – Dan Miller – said he hadn’t been as angry in 22 years of watching and participating in City Council meetings.

    There was blame enough to go around for the losses. The economy has forced golfers to play less, either because they no longer have the discretionary funds or because they are working harder to make ends meet and do not have time to play 18 holes. In fact, the 20% reduction in rounds played by full rate players (“rack rates”) was listed as the primary reason for the decline. While there was a decrease in the number of rounds played by golfers paying discount rates, it was not as sharp.

    The City had to operate the Pt. Pinos Grill for about six months in the absence of a concessionaire.

    There were 19 more bad weather days than anticipated which cost an estimated $2,000-$3,000 each.

    The fleet of leased golf carts had to be replaced at a cost of $22,000.

    The marketing plan – with a budget of some $71,000 – went to marketing to out-of-town golfers who would pay rack rates, and little, if any, was spent to entice locals.

    Holding of the US Open in the area affected the number of rounds played adversely.

    Nationally, golf courses are experiencing similar problems, with Santa Cruz’s municipal course, DeLaveaga, showing a $2 million loss recently. But other nearby courses have slashed their discount rates and some go as low as $5 for twilight play. While Pacific Grove used to be one of the lowest priced courses in the area, courses such as Rancho Canada, Salinas fairway and Laguna Seca have undercut the local links and golfers willing to play at odd hours are dwindling away.

    But it was more the surprise factor than the actual loss that seemed to anger Councilmembers and GLAC members most.

    After the feathers quit flying around and staff had been chastened for not reporting sooner, by every member of the Council as well as the members of the GLAC who were on hand, the Council agreed to delay action until a report and recommendations could be had from Golf Convergence, the new consultant hired to help the City out. The current marketing consultant’s contract will not be renewed. A monthly Profit & Loss will be required, and some cost-cutting measures will be implemented, but there will likely be no salary cuts or requests for early retirement.

    Revenue enhancement strategies will be explored as well. With warm “weather for locals” coming, it is hoped some of those revenue enhancement programs can be put into place at once, before the golden egg becomes merely more zeroes on the profit and loss statement.

     

     

     

    3rd arrest on child porn charges

    Enough signatures collected to put MST project on the June, 2012 ballot

    Upset about the Monterey County Board of Supervisors’ decision approving Monterey-Salinas Transit’s Whispering Oaks Project for a transportation terminal, a loose coalition of organizations has collected more than 18,000 signatures in an effort to overturn the decision and place the question on the June, 2012 ballot. Only 10,100 valid signatures are needed. Read more…»

    Former mayor Jeanne Byrne declares she will run for Water Board

    Jeanne Byrne, architect and former mayor of Pacific Grove, has filed papers to run for Trustee Area 4 of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District Board in November, 2011. The seat is currently held by Regina Doyle who is currently serving her first term and is up for re-election. Doyle has not yet indicated whether she will be running.

    “We need active leadership, not further studies and lack of action,” Byrne said. “The community deserves a future…whether it is for future retirement plans, future business plans or a future for your children.”

    Jeanne Byrne

    She reminds citizens that Peninsula residents face critical issues on water supply. “With the state about to virtually shut off our water supply, there will be no future for business and tourism, no future for our jobs and lifestyles,” she adds.

    As mayor of Pacific Grove from 1992-94, Byrne was pivotal in bringing the cities of Pacific Grove and Carmel onto the governance Board of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority. She has been active on a variety of City committees including the Building Standards Committee, Historic Resources and Chair of Architectural Review Committee. She continues to be a leader in the American Institute of Architects, Rotary Club, Pacific Grove Downtown Business Improvement District and Downtown Improvement Committee and is currently serving on the City’s Planning Commission.

    “I’ve come to Pacific Grove ever since I can remember, visiting my grandmother, and I’ve been a resident since 1977, living in my great-grandfather’s house,” Byrne states.

    Shortly after Byrne moved to the Peninsula, the water management district was formed with the original purpose to build the dam and then changed to build a water project.

    “I’ve watched so many proposals go nowhere, millions of dollars for studies and last-minute project delays. We can’t continue these tactics because we are out of time,” she said. “Without a water project to replace Carmel River pumping, the State Cease and Desist Order will require such severe water rationing by 2014 and 2016 that there will be no water for landscaping, businesses and recreation and water limits will be below the health standard for personal use. This will amount to loss of businesses, loss of jobs, reduction in home values and the loss of a future for our Peninsula. Read more…»

    Playing politics with public safety

    The embarrassing mess at the Sheriff’s Department stinks of sour grapes to us.

    We’re not arguing that an accused drug dealer should not have been arrested, no matter who his father is. But we think the whole thing was handled badly and that it was done in such a way as to embarrass Sheriff Scott Miller.

    Now we have the detective sergeant in charge of the investigation, Det. Sgt. Archie Warren, filing a lawsuit against his supervisor, Sheriff Miller, alleging that Miller jeopardized deputies’ safety and obstructed in the investigation and arrest of his son by phoning his wife moments before the officers arrived at the upstairs apartment.

    She probably already knew. Someone had tipped off the press and they were out there in droves, cameras rolling, as the arrest was made. So says our source, who was riding by on a bicycle.

    So who called the press? Not Sheriff Miller. We were on the phone with him within a short time and he assured us that he was unaware of the investigation and pending arrest until the officers were “knocking on the door.”

    Here’s who didn’t get a call: The Pacific Grove Police Department. When we called them, right after the incident, they were surprised. There had been — and rightly so — no indication that an investigation was taking place. Secrecy is vital to many investigations. But when armed men show up at a private residence in a quiet neighborhood, there’s a chance that someone will call the local police in a panic and mayhem could follow. We have confirmed with Pacific Grove Police Chief Darius Engles that there was not even so much as a courtesy call. Bad form on the part of Det. Sgt. Warren.

    Sheriff Miller has called for a California Department of Justice investigation. We applaud that action. Calling for any other jurisdiction to investigate would have had the odor of conflict of interest on the part of the sheriff.

    Now Warren’s attorney has tried to get a restraining order against Sheriff Miller and undersheriff Max Houser because Warren was questioned about the case, his office safe was searched, and he was transferred from narcotics to the coroner’s office and he felt it was retaliatory. The judge denied the request, saying that he just didn’t see anything to indicate that Warren was “facing retaliatory action.” In fact, what we learned Wednesday, July 13 was that Warren had been transferred because he tipped off the media about a pending pot raid on a cartel-run farm in Big Sur resulting, eventually, in the cancellation of the raid because of the disclosure to the public, and in yet-unknown costs for Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement helicopters and agents on the ground, not to mention their safety.

    Shortly after Jacob Miller’s arrest, we were advised that a man in South County was arrested on the same charges, but his name was withheld because it’s part of an ongoing investigation. So who made the meth that Jacob Miller is accused of offering for sale? Probably not him. Are they looking for the manufacturer now, who has been warned off by Jacob Miller’s arrest? We’d likely know if there were a meth lab in Pacific Grove. Meth labs smell a lot worse than sour grapes. Or do they?
    — Marge Ann Jameson

    Bldg. inspector: ‘Brokaw Hall must come down’ and soon

    By Marge Ann Jameson

    Brokaw in better days; The chimney may be preserved.

     

    Citing the 2006 International Property Maintenance code and Pacific Grove Municipal Code, Pacific Grove’s chief Building Official, John Kuehl, has  sent a Notice and Order to Demolish Brokaw Hall, the building in the Butterfly Sanctuary,  to City Manager Tom Frutchey. In his March 29, 2011 letter, Kuehl ordered a 5-foot fence around the structure, a minimum of 10 feet from the building, and ordered its demolition by April 29, 2011 – after obtaining a clearance from the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District. Read more…»

    “Blight ordinance” hits the books

    By Marge Ann Jameson

    The state of California recently enacted a law that allows cities to impose fines of up to $1000 per day on the owners of abandoned properties that are left to deteriorate, and, further, allows local jurisdictions to pass their own ordinances if they so choose. The state law is aimed primarily at the owners, commonly banks and mortgage lenders, of properties which have gone into foreclosure. The borrowers on the foreclosed loans abandon the property, usually having been forced to move by the lender, and the property is left unattended and vacant for months. These properties, without maintenance, can “discourage potential buyers of nearby properties” and eventually devalue and destabilize entire neighborhoods, in the opinion of a City of Pacific Grove staff report. Read more…»

    Does this aluminum foil hat make me look fat?

    There were three very brave people at the City Council meeting last night — three representatives from PG&E. Not only were they in a serious minority, but they dared to sit with their backs to the crowd.
    And there was only one police officer present! (Guess we should point out that that’s all there usually is, but the local Fox affiliate was freaked when three officers showed up for crowd control at the previous meeting, the one held last week. At that meeting, the issue of PG&E Smart Meters was taken up, and they had to continue the meeting until this week. The hoped-for riot never materialized, but the television station was there beaming high frequency messages at all of us, hoping for a sound byte but only getting an interview with Cdr. John, also known as Det. Laid Back
    So last night everyone donned their aluminum foil hats and took their seats after the pledge of allegiance, those who could find a seat. It was not TRO, but SRO in the council chambers, with a long line for public comment when Smart Meters came up on the agenda.Me, I had my usual press box seat next to Kevin, who was reading a John Forsyth novel called “the afghan.” I was reminded that I should have brought my crochet work to make some more butterflies for the tourists, but it was too late.
    “They’re ruining my lungs!” “I’ll get brain cancer!” “My children! And my ability to have more!” “Save the butterflies!” Truth is, nobody knows for sure what these things will do, but it seemed pretty obvious that the main issue was that PG&E would have the ability to turn off one’s electricity remotely, whether to protect the power grid in peak use times or for non-payment of the bill. Anyone who has let their power bill float until the 24-hour notice arrives in the mail knows what that’s all about.
    No one rioted or tried to storm the councilmembers, but Dilbert did have a slide show and why was I not surprised? Trouble was, these nudniks applauded him, which likely will only make the slide show longer next time. Obviously they haven’t had to sit through 20 or so of these things as I have.
    Now, I have to admit that there was one little old lady who wouldn’t sit down and eat her mushrooms, but kept hopping up and down and shouting “Arrest me! Arrest me!” Maybe she had a crush on Det Laid Back. She finally got hoarse and gave up. There was another in the front row who, having been squelched by the buzzer after her allotted three minutes, kept waving signs at the dais. She gave up when Bill said, “Ma’am, I can’t read your writing.”
    Besides the health issues. the question of allowing Smart Meters to be installed when only the babysitter was home also became a question of personal power, or the lack thereof. “Don’t tell me I gotta keep up with the times, especially when these things are waving micros around.” “Never mind how long I talk on my cell phone every day, these things are dangerous!”
    It took three iterations and three separate votes, but the council finally voted not to do much. No ban, no moratorium, no strong message to Congress. Nope, after the debacle with the Citizen’s Retirement Initiative (which was actually an initiative about public employee retirement, not citizens) that got us embroiled in a lawsuit with the police department, the council decided they didn’t have the jurisdiction and voted to have staff do some more research.
    Meanwhile, deep in the dark woods of Rip Van Winkle Open Space, there lurks a hairless coyote who got too close to the cell phone tower out by the butterfly sanctuary. Maybe he will come testify April 6 when the item comes up again.
    As for the city council, they took a break and I took a hike.

    Book Review: The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival

    By Marge Ann Jameson

    Picture stately Julia Platt in her purple dress and yellow gauntlets charging down to Lovers Point, axe in hand, to knock down a fence and ensure that the beach remained accessible to the public. Marvel that she had the foresight to petition the state legislature in 1931 to make Pacific Grove the only city with title to its waterfront and “certain submerged lands in the Bay of Monterey contiguous thereto,” along with the right to manage its own coastline.

    Platt’s legacy — and her colorful mode of dress — are described in The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival, a collaboration by Stephen R. Palumbi and Carolyn Sotka. It is a hopeful book about the ecology of the Monterey Bay. In it, they write about Platt’s legacy sanctuary. The “certain submerged lands in the Bay of Monterey” are not at Lovers Point, however, but in the area of Hopkins Marine Station where fishery biologists were, at the time, becoming alarmed at the condition of the bay due to the offal dumped into it by the canneries.

    It would take decades for Platt’s foresight to bear fruit. By then, the sardine industry would have collapsed – due not only to overfishing practices, but also due to forces of nature beyond the control of man. Read more…»

    City smoking ban reach is extended

    As expected, the Pacific Grove City Council approved changes to its “no smoking” ordinance which extended the prohibition to all parks, recreation areas, playgrounds, and the Farmers’ Market. As of the first reading of the ordinance, it also bans smoking in the public areas of the golf course, but not on the course itself.
    The changes, proposed by Mayor Carmelita Garcia, received unanimous support from the Council., Mayor Garcia, speaking by telephone from Washington, D.C. where she is attending a conference, thanked the members of the Golf Links Advisory Committee for working with her on the ordinance.
    A small alteration suggested by staff which would have extended the ban to 25 feet around public buildings from the current 20 feet was rejected.
    A second reading will be held at a future City Council meeting.

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  • Beach Report Card

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    This is the Heal the Bay Beach Report Card for Monterey Peninsula beaches, which reports water quality grades, or when relevant, weather advisories. An A to F grade is assigned based on the health risks of swimming or surfing at that location. Look at the "dry" grade for all days except those "wet" days during and within 3 days after a rainstorm. Click here for more information on the Beach Report Card. Click the name of the beach when it pops up for more details, or choose a beach below.

    AsilomarCarmelLovers PointMunicipal Wharf 2 (Monterey)Upper Del Monte Beach (Monterey)San Carlos Beach (Cannery Row)Stillwater Cove (Pebble Beach)Spanish Bay

    adapted from Heal the Bay, brc.healthebay.org
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