• Wasting our time and money

    From Cedar Street Times 01/20/12

    I have two items to talk about this week.
    The first is the Regional Water Authority, also known as the Mayors’ JPA, which I’m pretty sure is going to be a waste of money and time.
    The second is the “emergency” moratorium request to regulate adult-oriented businesses in Pacific Grove, which I’m pretty sure already was a
    waste of money and time.
    The Joint Powers Authority is racing through various city council meetings
    across the Peninsula. Last week, in an emergency session, our city council postponed taking a vote on the measure (and wisely so) because they believed there were too many unanswered questions about governance, representation, funding, and the existence of a weighted vote which could leave Pacific Grove in the minority, as we are a smaller city than Seaside or
    Monterey. Carmel already agreed to the idea, though many of their council
    members expressed similar reservations to our representatives’. After testimony by representatives from the Water Management District, which was established 30 years ago to consider such matters, and by the Water Pollution Control Agency – which has a great solution to part of the problem by the way – our council last week decided they wanted to know more.
    Answers came this week, but they were pretty shaky if you ask me.
    Nothing was set in stone and it felt as if a lot of reassurance was given that had no substance in the actual wording of the JPA itself. Still, the council bought it and voted unanimously to join. Why do I feel as if someone is saying “Don’t worry your pretty little head about this”?
    Of those questions, I’m very uncomfortable about the funding part – $30,000 for the first year for which each member city pays $5000. That’s not exactly enough to get the phone and stationery set up, let alone hire someone to answer the phone and send letters and reports on the stationery. “How soon will there be a mechanism to repay the cities?” was one of the questions (which went unanswered). The question should have been, “How soon are the ratepayers going to start feeling the pinch of yet another layer of bureaucracy?”
    The WMD, which does not have the most stellar record for building consumer confidence, was still not a real part of the JPA at the time the council voted. The promise was that they would be invited at the soonest opportunity, but questions remain about what their role would be.
    We just had an election and seated people on the WMD who would hopefully change the balance of that do-nothing agency and actually look for new water rather than passing out ducky little plant meters and shower timers and inspecting second toilets. Why do we need an expensive JPA?
    I see the JPA growing and becoming just another wad of expensive red tape. I hope I’m wrong.
    On we go to the subject of the morals of Pacific Grove, which have the reputation of being rather Victorian, to say the least. To borrow a turn of phrase from one of the council members who heard the question at the Jan. 17 meeting, now we’re talking Victoria’s Secret instead.
    A woman named Shira Diallo, who is a candy store owner from Monterey, seeks to open a lingerie store called Ooh La La in Pacific Grove. She went through all the right hoops, talking with the Planning Department and applying for a business license and eventually winding up in the City Manager’s office where she was questioned about her plans for the business. She mentioned that there might be toys, games and books (doubtless of a rather adult nature) if allowed, but that lingerie and some candles and lotions would be the mainstay of her inventory. Which, by the way, she and her husband had already bought and paid for, along with a couple of months’ rent and tenant improvements at the site.
    The City Manager decided that Pacific Grove citizens might get all up-in-arms about her merchandise and that an emergency moratorium should be sought so that the business could be regulated.
    Granted, Pacific Grove doesn’t have any existing regulations about adult material (how did that happen?), though it wouldn’t be the first time risqué merchandise was offered in the city limits. But it was hardly an emergency.
    No one came to the meeting to protest the business, but plenty of people got up to talk about how they thought it was about time and how they didn’t see anything wrong with what she wanted to do. Some wanted to know if she would carry their size, though they didn’t say it at the microphone in the public comment segment. The television cameras were there to poke fun at Victorian Pacific Grove and everyone generally had a good time.
    In the end, the council decided there was no emergency and told her to go ahead and finish her paper work and get the store up and running. The question of the citizens’ morals will be left up to the Planning Department for zoning questions which is where we think it should have been all along.
    I wish her good luck.

    – Marge Ann Jameson

    posted to Cedar Street Times on January 22, 2012

    Topics: About PG, Opinion, Snarkin' With Marge

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