Huntington Beach Election: City Council Candidates Question (2) Infrastructure

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

This is the second of a series of questions posed by the Surf City Voice to all of the announced candidates. The question this time is about infrastructure and more specifically a proposed revision to Section 617 of the Huntington Beach City Charter that the city council recently voted to place on the November ballot.

The Surf City Voice tries to put challenging questions before the candidates in the hope that both the questions and the candidates’ answers will shed more light on important city issues and increase the voters’ chance to know who and what they will be voting for.

Political candidates often avoid challenging questions in their attempt to control the flow of information and limit their risks from public exposure. But we thank those candidates who took the time to consider the question and disclose their views to the voters.

The background to the question, the exact question asked of each of the candidates and their exact answers follow.

Readers are encouraged to leave their own comments or questions at the end of the questionnaire. Continue reading Huntington Beach Election: City Council Candidates Question (2) Infrastructure

Probolsky + Register + Poseidon = Bogus Desal Poll

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

The OC Register reported that a phone poll shows that 71 percent of the city’s voters support a desalination plant proposed to be built on the corner of Newland Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach and only 14 percent oppose it (July 24, Support for desalination plant rising, company says).

The poll also shows a substantial decrease in local opposition to the plant from 2004, when another poll showed that 27 percent of Surf City residents were opposed to the plant, the Register story says.

Regardless of the poll results, the plant is opposed by citizen groups statewide, including Residents for Responsible Desal (R4RD) in Huntington Beach.

The article was written by Register staffer Jaimee Lyn Fletcher who has reported on the proposed desalination plant before. As Fletcher less than accurately reported, both polls were “conducted” by Poseidon Resources Inc., the company that seeks to build the plant (more on that later).

In the first poll, 65 percent of respondents favored the plant. The supposed 7 percent increase since then indicates that as the public becomes more informed about the project public support grows, Poseidon officials told Fletcher.

But Fletcher’s article, like the poll it purports to inform its readers about, is laced with deception and wrapped in secrecy, no doubt providing a service to Poseidon but leading the Register’s unknowing readers astray in this election year. Continue reading Probolsky + Register + Poseidon = Bogus Desal Poll

Low-carbon Footprint Camping: Sun charges your e-gadgets outdoors

By Sarah (Seve) Mosko
Special to the Surf City Voice

Does the prospect of spending a weekend away from your favorite e-gadgets (cell phone, laptop, iPod or PDA) stir up separation anxiety? Around our house we’ve dubbed this e-angst, and it can kill enthusiasm for an otherwise welcome family camping vacation.

For teens or adults similarly infected with e-angst, a diversity of devices are on the market which let you bring your e-gadgets along with you camping and also trim your carbon footprint because they utilize only sunshine for power.

Solar chargers
An assortment of portable solar-powered chargers is available that adapt to virtually any hand held electronic appliance including digital cameras and GPS units. Most rely on photovoltaic silicon cell technology akin to what is used on rooftop solar panels. Many are small enough to fit in a back pocket or certainly a glove box so can travel with you virtually anywhere. The cost is as little as $15 on up to $150 depending on the capacity. Because rechargeable batteries are incorporated, gadgets can be recharged even after the sun goes down. Small electronics generally charge in 2-4 hours.

Solar backpacks offer another option for charging batteries or small gadgets on the hiking trail – the solar cells are embedded into the backpack material using so-called flexible or thin-layer solar technology. Though not widely available in stores, several are sold on-line, some for under $100.

Solar tents based on the same concept have been employed by the U.S. Military – for charging telecommunication and tactical devices and to relieve troops of the burden of lugging around batteries – and could be developed for civilian applications in the not too distant future.

Laptops need relatively high capacity chargers which ups the cost to somewhere between $150 and $600. The solar array can come as traditional panels which fold up much like a brief case or as a flexible sheet which rolls up like a mat. Another style has the panels set into the outside of a computer carrying case. Unfolded, the panels measure roughly 1-2 feet by 2-3 feet. You can either trickle charge the computer while it’s in use to extend the battery life or allow for the up to 12 hours needed to fully recharge a computer that’s turned off. Because solar computer chargers weigh anywhere from one to six pounds, they’re compatible with car camping.

Automotive solar battery rechargers are another option for charging laptops. A solar array plugged into the cigarette lighter recharges the car battery while the laptop is simultaneously operating or recharging via a direct connection to the car battery.

More solar camping supplies
Solar showers are no doubt the oldest solar camping supply around. The concept is incredibly simple and efficient. When a black plastic water bag absorbs sunlight, the light is converted to heat which is transferred to the water inside. At the end of a dusty day, suspend the bag from a tree and let gravity do the rest. These sell for about $25 at camping supply stores.

Zero carbon-emission hot meals can be prepared on campouts using solar cookers which also operate on sunlight. Because internal temperatures can reach 300°F, solar cookers can be used to prepare anything from baked bread to meat stew, and they are also useful for water pasteurization which requires a temperature of only 150°F.

Here’s how solar cookers work. A black lidded pot is placed inside a box-like chamber that traps sunlight and converts it to heat. Some type of clear plastic or glass encloses the pot to keep the heat trapped inside. Light-reflective surfaces arranged above the chamber concentrate additional sunlight into the cooker.

Solar cookers are in widespread use in less developed parts of the world, including China and India, especially in areas where deforestation is an issue or firewood is in short supply. Hundreds of styles are sold commercially at prices in the range of $50-$100. Or, you can easily find instructions on-line to construct your own for next to nothing with just boxes, black paint and aluminum foil.

Rugged solar camping lanterns or torches allow dining or reading after dark without propane or disposable batteries. Battery-powered light emitting diodes (LED) are recharged by a small attachable solar panel. Each hour of charging provides one or two hours of lamp light. Figure the cost at about $50.  There are also many styles of LED flashlights to choose from with the option of recharging by way of built-in solar panels or a hand crank.

Solar hat fans which clip onto the brim are available too for those with the mettle to sport one. They’re driven by a mini solar panel measuring a few inches square and sell for $10 or so.

Given the rate at which new electronic appliances are emerging, their integration ever deeper into the fabric of everyday life seems inevitable. It would be tragic if opportunities to commune with the nature were missed because of our attachment to such gadgetry.

As the sun is the ultimate source of the energy on which virtually all life depends, it seems fitting that solar technologies can play a role in sustaining both our sense of connectedness to and preservation of the natural world.

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Native Americans Are Not Artifacts, City Council Told

Ruben Aguirre, member of Tongva Nation and a descendant of the original occupiers of the Bolsa Chica upper mesa, told the Huntington Beach city council what he thought of the record of California Coastal Homes (previously known as Hearthside), the developer that  won city council approval to build 22 homes on a 5 acre parcel, one of the last two remaining spots of undeveloped but sacred Native American land located on the mesa, part of the Bolsa Chica wetlands ecosystem located in the city near Warner Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway.

Digging for artifacts on the Bolsa Chica mesa
Digging for artifacts on the Bolsa Chica upper mesa in 2001. Photo: Scientific Resource Surveys

The public hearing attracted hundreds of opponents and council members received 664 communications regarding the project, at least the vast majority of which were opposed. Nobody spoke in favor of the project at the except city staff, the developer and the city council majority of 5, who voted for the project. The vote included changing the parcel’s 26-year-old open space-park zoning designation to residential and exempting the developer from completing a rigorous Environmental Impact Report, which opponents say is required under state law.

The Surf City Voice will being reporting on this story periodically.

Ruben Aguirre’s comments are printed below and his city council presentation can be seen and heard in the video.

“I am here for my ancestors. That’s why I’m here. This gentleman, developer, you know him by name now, he had our ancestors prisoners for I forget how many years, in trailers and boxes. Now, I think any of you that would have your ancestors in boxes or in trailers, stored as artifacts, you would not stand for. When it comes to greed and money, that’s all they worry about, these developers. You as a council have the right, and you know in your hearts if it’s right or wrong, when there’s development or anything you have to do to take care of our wetlands, all the open space out there. I go over there and I pray, constantly. I am waiting for one of them to come and tell me I can’t pray there. I would like to see that for them to stop me from praying. That’s our sacred place, sacred land for all Native Americans that can come there. And its cogstones and its burials.  Where’s all these things? Where are they? Who has all of them? Where are they? Who has them? What right do they have? Because they found them or because this archaeologist, these grave robbers, grave diggers—and I will say it right out and I will say it in front of them: that’s what they are. And to make excuses, or this developer pays their own archaeologist, so they’re going to lie. You know, they keep on digging and bringing out remains, funerary objects; but it’s all artifacts, so they take them to museums, like I say, they put them away, you know? We are not artifacts. Native Americans are not artifacts. We are human beings just like everyone else here.”

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Question #1: City Council Candidates Speak Out on the Ridge

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

On July 6, 2010, the Huntington Beach City Council voted 5-1 to approve rezoning from open space/park to residential for a hotly disputed 5 acre patch of land on the Bolsa Chica upper mesa and to accept a Mitigated Negative Declaration for a 22 unit housing development proposed by California Coastal Communities (Hearthside Homes) for the site–instead of a more rigorous Environmental Impact Report.

To many Native Americans, the entire area is a holy site that should be left alone out of respect for their ancestors. To preservationists it is also a place of natural wonder linked to the Bolsa Chica wetlands ecosystem that should be kept natural to help maintain the city’s already limited open spaces.

The current owner of the site says that Native American burial remains and artifacts are unlikely to be found there and that the project will not have significant impacts on cultural or environmental resources that can’t be properly mitigated for.

The following question was submitted to every Huntington Beach City Council candidate as the first in an ongoing series to be published between now and the day before election in November, 2010.

On July 6, 2010 the Huntington Beach City Council will consider an appeal of the city planning commission’s approval of rezoning 5 acres of land on the upper Bolsa Chica mesa (known as the Ridge) from open space/park to residential and its approval of a Mitigated Negative Declaration for a 22 unit housing development on the site.

If you were an elected member of the city council, how would you vote (or how would you have voted if you answer after the city council meeting) on the appeal of the Huntington Beach Planning Commission’s decisions (noted above) on the Ridge site? Would you vote (yes) to uphold the appeal in whole or in part? Explain which part of parts of the appeal you would uphold or not uphold and the reasons for your decision in each case.

The following candidates submitted answers in the requested format within the deadline requested. Readers are encouraged to post their responses to any of the answers posted by the candidates, to ask them questions, challenge or praise them. Candidates may answer readers and post questions for other candidates as well. Please keep all comments within the spirit of constructive debate and keep your comments to the issues.

Respondents are listed in alphabetical order. Continue reading Question #1: City Council Candidates Speak Out on the Ridge