Tag Archive | "Huntington Beach"

Huntington Beach Mayor Proposes Coastal Commission Reject of Poseidon Desalination Permit


Mayor Connie Boardman’s proposed letter to the California Coastal Commission, below, will be before the Huntington Beach City Council on Monday, May 6, 2013. Public comments will be heard at the start of the city council meeting. Her proposed letter is based on findings made previously by Coastal Commission (here). A debate on the pros proposed Poseidon desalination plant can be read (here) and (here).

May 6, 2013

California Coastal Commission
45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000

San Francisco, CA 94105

Dear Commissioners:

In 2010, the Huntington Beach City Council approved the Coastal Development Permit No. 10-014, conditionally approving the “Poseidon Seawater Desalination Project”(Poseidon CDP).

The city’s approval of the Poseidon CDP was appealed by several organizations, aswell as Commissioners Wan and Mirkarimi.

I have been authorized by the Huntington Beach City Council to communicate to you that the current Huntington Beach City Council does not support the project as it is currently presented.

We are requesting that the California Coastal Commission deny the Coastal Development Permit for the Poseidon desalination project in Huntington Beach when this issue comes before the Commission.

Sincerely,
Connie Boardman
Mayor
City of Huntington Beach

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Posted in Environment, Headlines, PoseidonComments (3)

A REBUTTAL TO POSEIDON RESOURCES’ ‘FACT vs. FICTION’ FLYER


Editor’s Note: Opponents of an ocean desalination plant (Nowaterdeal) proposed for Huntington Beach, California, recently launched a major campaign to block the project (here). Poseidon Resources created a response to some of those claims and is circulating it publicly. The Voice republished it here. NoWaterDeal issued the counter rebuttal to Poseidon recently. On Monday, May 6, the Huntington Beach City Council will consider a proposal (here) by Mayor Connie Boardman to recommended to the California Coastal Coastal Commission to deny the Coastal Development Permit for the project when it considers the project this summer.

By NoWaterDeal.com

Recently Poseidon Resources, through their media produced an open letter titled: “Don’t be misled by anti-desalination campaign mailer. Get the facts here.”

This letter makes a futile attempt to dispute the facts surrounding the Poseidon Huntington Beach Seawater Desalination Facility as presented in the No Water Deal With Poseidon mailer and website, which can be seen at www.nowaterdeal.com. Below we directly address the statements in their letter with the real facts regarding the project.

Statement: “Desalinated seawater will replace the need to import water; thus eliminating the imported water costs; however, in their calculation, opponents failed to deduct the avoided cost of imported water. This is an uninformed mistake.”

Fact: Jeff Kightlinger the Executive Director of The Metropolitan Water District (MET), the main water provider for Southern California has stated that the MET will not import less water from the delta or the Colorado River due to the existence of the Poseidon Huntington Beach Desalination Plant (personal communication on 3/18/2013). As another example, Poseidon signed a contract with MET in 2009 that included a section stating that the contract would be terminated if MET is required…to reduce defer, or exchange entitlement to or reduce usage of Colorado River water, State Water Project water, or other supplies…as a result of expected or actual Production of the Desalinated Seawater by the Project(Section 13, pg. 21 of the Draft CSDP Agreement 70025). It is quite clear that any water Poseidon produces will not replace imported water, and Poseidon knows that.

Statement: “If the cost of imported water continues to escalate as it has over the past twenty years, then over the life of the desalination project, Orange County water ratepayers will see a net savings, not a net increase in their water bill.”

Poseidon, god of the sea.

Poseidon, god of the sea.

Fact: Such claims have been made for at least 12 years and have not come to pass and probably never will. In presentations by Poseidon in 2003, they estimated that the cost of imported water would equal or exceed that of desalinated water in the 2013-14 timeframe. Here it is 2013 and that has not come to pass. On the contrary the proposed price per acre foot for desalinated water for the Huntington Beach project is about $1,700 compared to $400 for our abundant Orange County groundwater, $700 for imported water and $800 for local recycled water. So even over time desalinated water has remained far more expensive than all other supplies and is likely to remain so. Poseidon’s present prediction for the imported = desalinated water cost equation is for 2024-25 timeframe. It is interesting that this water cost equation is always predicted 10 to 12 years out. You be the judge of who’s being factual.

Statement: “Enforceable agreements between Poseidon and the City of Huntington Beach guarantees that Huntington Beach residents will pay less for water then they would without the desalination project.”

Fact: Huntington Beach signed an “Owner’s Participation Agreement” (“OPA”) with Poseidon Resources that includes the discounted purchase of some desalinated water. However, the discount will only apply to the first 3 Million-gallons-per-day (Mg/d) of 10 Mg/d total and to an emergency supply for 10 Mg/d for 7 days. (NOTE: What constitutes an “emergency” remains unstipulated.). So Huntington Beach will pay full price for 70% of the water received from the project

Statement: “A recent negative campaign mailer circulated by opponents erroneously claims the project will add $5 billion dollars to local water bills over the next 30 years.”

Fact: Unlike Poseidon’s often fuzzy math , the No Water Deal With Poseidon mailer states the precise arithmetic it used to come up with the “$5 billion” figure. All the numbers were derived from Poseidon’s own term sheet for the purchase of water produced by its HB project plant. You be the judge of who’s being factual.

By the way, the No Water Deal With Poseidon mailer is not “anti-desalination”. It does, however, provide the facts regarding irresponsible desalination projects like Poseidon Resources has proposed for Huntington Beach.

No Water Deal With Poseidon

www.nowaterdeal.com

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Posted in Headlines, PoseidonComments (3)

Rebuttal to Poseidon Critics from Poseidon Resources, Inc: Huntington Beach Desalination Project


Editor’s Note: Opponents of an ocean desalination plant (Nowaterdeal) proposed for Huntington Beach, California, recently launched a major campaign to block the project (here). Poseidon Resources created a response to some of those claims and is circulating it publicly. The Voice republishes it below. NoWaterDeal’s counter rebuttal can be read here. On Monday, May 6, the Huntington Beach City Council will consider a proposal (here) by Mayor Connie Boardman to recommended to the California Coastal Coastal Commission to deny the Coastal Development Permit for the project when it considers the project this summer.

Huntington Beach Desalination Project

Fact vs. Fiction

Opponents of seawater desalination are distributing a campaign mailer with misleading and factually incorrect claims about the Huntington Beach Desalination Project and the cost of desalinated water. This fact sheet corrects these erroneous claims.

Claim: “$5 billion dollars will be added to local water bills … These bills could total $8,500 for the average retail water customers over the next 30 years.”

Fact: This claim is factually incorrect. The cost of water from the desalination project is not additive, as the claim assumes. Drinking water produced by the desalination project will replace an equivalent amount of imported water into Orange County and thus eliminate the related imported water costs to the consumer. The claim above fails to take this fact into account. If the avoided imported water costs were taken into account, the $5 billion claim would be reduced by billions, potentially even more than $5 billion, in which case buying the desalinated water would result in savings to the ratepayers of Orange County. If the historical rate of imported water escalation is assumed for the next 30 years, purchasing the desalinated water would indeed result in significant savings1. Additionally, the $5 billion cost claim factors in an arbitrary escalation of desalination water at 3.5% annually and fails to account for available local water supply development financial incentives that will reduce the cost of desalinated water by up to $250 per acre foot or $14 million a year2.

1 6.4% = MWD’s Full Service, Treated Tier 1 Rate’s historical average annual rate of increase during 37 year period from 1978

– 2014.

2 $14 million = $250 per acre foot financial incentive x 56,000 acre feet per year produced by the desalination plant.

3 City of Huntington Beach Entitlement and Plan Amendment 10-001, approved September 2010

4 20 year period from 1993-2012 for CPI-U series identification numbers CUURA421SA0 & CUUSA421SA0 (All Items, Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA)

5 Average Retail Electric Utility Prices, Industrial, as published by the CA Energy Commission

This claim is also factually incorrect as it pertains to ratepayers living in the City of Huntington Beach. As a condition to the permits3 issued by the City of Huntington Beach to Poseidon’s desalination project, the City, at its option, can receive up to 3,360 acre feet per year of desalinated water at the lower of a 5% discounted price off the rate the City pays the Municipal Water District of Orange County for imported water and the cost of the desalinated water. This means that when the desalination project comes online Huntington Beach residents will be paying less for imported water than they would without the project. This requirement will save the City’s ratepayers tens of millions of dollars over the 30 year term of the project.

Ultimately, the cost impact of integrating desalinated water will differ from city to city based on each city’s water supply mix and rate structure as well as the future escalation of imported water rates. However, the Huntington Beach Desalination Project will provide Orange County with a substantial supply of locally-controlled, drought-proof water. These are attractive characteristics that imported water simply cannot offer, given the current and future water demands, environmental concerns, pumping restrictions and threats on the State Water Project and Colorado River Basin.

Claim: The mailer applies an arbitrary inflation figure of 3.5% per year to the cost of desalinated water.

Fact: Poseidon expects the cost of desalinated water to escalate at 2.5% per year. Approximately half of the cost of desalinated water will cover capital costs and escalate at a fixed 2.5% per year. The remaining balance of the cost covers the operating and electricity costs of the Project. The portion of the desalinated water price that covers operating costs will escalate with the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) for Orange County, which has averaged 2.4% per year over the last 20 years4. The portion that covers electricity costs will escalate with the applicable SoCal Edison industrial tariff rate, which has averaged 2.2% for the 20 year span from 1991-20105.

Claim: “No public subsidies for private profit”

Fact: Poseidon did not request and is not receiving “public subsidies” as part of the successful financing of its Carlsbad Desalination Project, and the company is not seeking public subsidies for its Huntington Beach Desalination Project. Public water agencies in Orange County that buy desalinated water are eligible for an up-to-$250 per acre foot financial incentive from MWD under its Seawater Desalination Program (SDP). This same financial incentive under MWD’s Local Resource Program (LRP) has been used to financially support the OCWD’s Groundwater Replenishment System (GWR). The LRP is designed to foster the development of local water supplies that initially cost more than imported water supplies, and as such they reduce, not increase, water costs for Orange County consumers. Poseidon is neither a public agency nor an MWD member and is not eligible for the funds. MWD funding is subject to strict accounting and auditing measures, and the incentive funds are only available to the purchasers of water to offset predetermined costs.

Claim: “It’s just too risky … In Australia four of six desalination plants built since 2006 sit idle in stand-by mode.”

Scott Malonie

Scott Malonie, Poseidon Resources Inc., Vice President: Photo SCV

Fact: This reference to Australian and its desalination plants is misleading and not analogous to the Huntington Beach project. The regions in Australia where these plants are built experience up to four times the annual precipitation as Southern California and therefore do not need to import water like Orange County. As such, not all the Australian plants were built to operate on a base load capacity. Desalinated water is intended to meet a small portion of Orange County’s supply needs as part of its overall strategy to improve reliability through diversification of water sources. The Huntington Beach project’s maximum 56,000 acre feet per year capacity will be approximately 8% of Orange County’s total demand, so it’s only one component of supply designed to offset the need to import an equivalent amount of water that is subject to regulatory and environmental restrictions, making it less reliable. The Huntington Beach plant and its water reliability agreements will be structured such that the public agency customers will always need and use what the facility produces.

Furthermore, Poseidon alone bears the risk of permitting, development, financing, constructing and operating the Huntington Beach Desalination Project. The innovative public-private partnership structure that Poseidon proposes shields Orange County ratepayers from the risk of a failed financing, over-budget construction, or failure to produce water at the amounts specified in the agreements during operations. In fact, the public agencies purchasing the water would not pay for any water until the Project has been constructed and water has been received by the agencies meeting contractual specifications for quantity, quality, reliability and price.

Claim: Poseidon’s beach-front water factory will suck sea life into their intake pipes with the water, kill and puree millions of organisms, then pump out a briny stew and create a dead zone off Huntington Beach.”

Fact: The Huntington Beach Desalination Project will be located east of Pacific Coast Highway, over a quarter mile from the Pacific Ocean on industrial land behind the AES power plant. The desalination project has a certified Subsequent Environmental Impact Report and approved Coastal Development Permit from the City of Huntington Beach, an approved lease with the California State Lands Commission for use of the seawater intake and discharge facilities and a discharge permit from the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board. In issuing these permits and approvals each local and state regulatory agency determined that the project can be built and operated with no significant impacts to marine life or water quality.

In issuing its approval the Santa Ana Regional Board found that for the desalination project will impinge approximately 0.78 lbs per day of fish, a fraction (less than 25%) of the daily diet of one brown pelican”6 and the discharge from the desalination plant will meet all federal and state receiving water quality standards.

6 Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board Order No. RB-2012-0007, NPDES No. CA8000403; page F-33

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Posted in Headlines, PoseidonComments (2)

‘Nowaterdeal’: Desal Plant Opponents Will Reach Out to Thousands of Orange County Voters


By John Earl
Surf City Voice

A growing number of county ratepayers, inspired by the late Gus Ayer, and opposed to a plan by Poseidon Resources Inc. to build an ocean desalination plant in Huntington Beach, have a message for the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) and its 28 member agencies:

No more secret negotiations or deals with Poseidon and don’t make us pay an additional $5 billion in local water bills—$8,500 per ratepayer—over the next 30 years for water that we don’t need.

Thirty-years is the time period in which the water agencies that contract with Poseidon would be required to pay for Poseidon’s desalinated water, whether it is needed or not, according to the water purchase agreement (WPA) made public by MWDOC in January.

The buyers “will agree to take (on a ‘take if delivered’ basis) [56,000] acre-feet per year of Product Water (the ‘Committed Amount’),” the WPA states. And if the buyers don’t take that amount of water, they will, “nonetheless pay Seller a per-acre foot charge to be set forth in the Contract…”

The WPA is not final, but it is the culmination of a decade-long relationship between MWDOC, its water agencies, and Poseidon.

The opposition group, heralding online as www.nowaterdeal.com, plans to spend tens-of- thousands of dollars to inform other ratepayers in high propensity voting areas of the county about Poseidon’s proposed “take or pay” contract, asking them to urge their local elected officials not to sign it.

Nowaterdeal is a coalition of members of Residents for Responsible Desal and other local ratepayers, including members of the Surfrider Foundation, League of Conservation Voters, and Orange County Coastkeepers, who at least until now had been fighting an uphill battle against Poseidon’s well financed lobbying efforts and a marketing campaign (largely unquestioned in the county’s major daily newspaper) that depicts its desalination plant as a future fallback point in case of prolonged drought or a natural disaster that would disrupt the flow of water to the public.

Poseidon would risk private investor flight without the guaranteed income, but take or pay would be risky for ratepayers if, as happened in drought drenched Australia, if the desalination plant were to sit idle due to lack of need. Currently, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), which sells water to MWDOC, has more surplus water stored up now (enough for 2.5 years) than ever before—testament to the ability to create backup reliability water without Poseidon.

Ocean desalination’s high maintenance and construction costs—and much higher energy costs—make it too risky, nowaterdeal says. Stuck with higher water rates and an idle desalination plant, ratepayers would fall into a rate trap. “As rates go up, people use less water” and “lower demand results in even higher rates, with fixed costs of the entire system spread over fewer units of water.”

Pimping2

Gus Ayer: MWDOC is pimping for Poseidon and should be eliminated. Photo: John Earl

The high cost-prediction is from information provided by Poseidon in the WPA and factors in conveyance and maintenance costs. With an inflation rate of 3.5 percent factored in, that means an estimated cost of $1,795 per acre foot for the desalinated water, compared to $285 per acre foot for local groundwater and $835 per acre foot for imported water, nowaterdeal says.

Acknowledging the higher cost of desalination, Poseidon VP Scott Maloni recently told the OC Register that Orange County residents have to ask, “What is the value of that reliability to them?”

But the underlying push for desalination plants along the California coast by the desalination industry and other development related business interests is not about drought relief alone, as MWDOC/MWD director Brett Barbre pointed out at a recent MWDOC committee meeting.

Barbre supports the Poseidon project and a smaller, less controversial, desalination project envisioned (but far from certain) for Dana Point in south Orange County. He also thinks that ratepayers throughout the county should have to pay for both projects on the basis that they would benefit everyone, even in water districts that say they don’t want or need the water.

“I believe that desal is not only for reliability. It’s also for growth,” he said. “And there are folks on the environmental side who don’t want any growth and they think if you don’t build water projects you can conserve your way to provide enough water for everybody. And that’s not ever going to happen.”

Although most of Poseidon’s opponents have always been concerned about the environmental effects of ocean desalination, the main focus of their current campaign is economic, while advocating for the development of proven and much cheaper water sources, including the Orange County Water District’s (OCWD) groundwater replenishment system, capturing rainwater, and conservation.

To start, the group will focus on about 50,000 voters in 14 north county cities, including Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, La Palma, Orange, Newport Beach, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Tustin and Westminster.

Twenty Orange County water agencies had signed non-binding letters of intent or memorandums of understanding with Poseidon to purchase, cumulatively, over 80,000 acre feet of water each year. Since those non-binding agreements expired in June, 2011, not a single agency has yet to renew.

Correction 02/05/2013: Eighteen agencies have signed Letters of Intent that have no expiration date, according to Karl Seckel, MWDOC’s acting General Manager. Those agencies, with the exception of Fullerton, are slated to participate in “working group discussions” regarding Poseidon during the 2012 fiscal year. Four other agencies are participating in working group discussions but have not signed LOIs. Participation in working group discussions is contingent upon signing a confidentiality agreement with Poseidon, but not all agencies that signed an LOI signed that agreement. The MOUs, which one presumes carried more weight, have all expired.

As Poseidon works to form an agreement with MWDOC and its member agencies, it requires all parties involved in project discussions to pledge absolute secrecy at Poseidon’s whim.

That lack of transparency and the overall elitist/exclusionary attitude at MWDOC and other OC water agencies, including their secret and arguably illegal meetings with Poseidon–all observed by a growing number of citizen spectators at water board meetings, as well as the company’s financial support of an ethically challenged hit piece in the recent Huntington Beach City Council campaign, have inspired Poseidon’s opponents, not only to challenge its political hegemony with a renewed vigor but to question the nature of Orange County water management as whole.

A temporary setback occurred for nowaterdeal when its chief strategist, former Fountain Valley mayor Gus Ayer, a master at crafting successful political campaigns in Orange County, died last week.

Earlier in the month, at a recent joint meeting of MWDOC and OCWD, Ayer praised the latter for its groundwater replenishment program and overall good management, but accused MWDOC of “mission creep” and “pimping for Poseidon.”

He also questioned whether MWDOC should exist.

“It’s time for OCWD to take a very close look at taking over these [MWDOC’s redundant] functions and eliminating MWDOC,” he said. Ayer expanded on that theme in a column written just before his death and published in the Surf City Voice.

Ayer’s untimely death saddened his colleagues but his upbeat attitude continues to motivate them.

“Gus’s last words to me were ‘Give them hell’”, recalled former Huntington Beach mayor Debbie Cook, who, during the past two years, has actively campaigned for greater transparency in water management.

“That was his way of saying that, if we don’t participate in democracy, we deserve the inevitable results. Nobody can replace our friend’s skill set, but he sparked a fire that emboldens us to carry on.”

 

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Posted in Energy, Environment, Headlines, MWD, MWDOC, Poseidon, Water, Water BoardingComments (3)

Comment: Water Agency Should be More Transparent on Huntington Beach Desal Plant


By Joe Geever
Surf Rider Foundation

Joe Geever is the Water Programs Manager for the Surf Rider Foundation, which works to protect ocean resources. He made these comments at the May 15 meeting of the Board of Directors of the Municipal Water District of Orange County. Originally, the directors had planned to go into closed session to discuss pricing arrangements for water to be delivered from an as yet unpermitted and unfinanced ocean desalination plant proposed by Poseidon Resources Inc. to be built in Huntington Beach, California. The meeting was criticized as a violation of California’s open meetings law, the Brown Act, and postponed until September.

My name is Joe Geever and I’m with the Surf Rider Foundation.

I don’t know if all the board members remember – the staff certainly does – that we actively supported your  desal pilot plant in Doheny. And we did that for two reasons. One, because we thought that research needed to be done to identify what the best intake for minimizing marine life mortality was. But also because of the assurances that staff gave us that this would be a completely open, transparent, public process in everything that went on with that project. And they have kept to that promise.

Now what I read is that this process [for the closed Poseidon meeting] is quite different. It feels as if you’re trying to find what the legal limits are for avoiding public transparency.

I guess I would urge you to lean in the other direction, to be as open and transparent and involve the public as much as possible from the beginning.

In my mind, it’s kind of ironic that you’re waiting to see how things play out with San Diego Count with the water purchase agreement from there because I think that’s the model for how not to do it.

The project proponent [Poseidon Resources] would like to blame all the delays on regulatory processes, when actually that project has been stalled because of information withheld or information that was submitted to regulatory agencies that was later discovered to be false. And all of this was happening behind closed doors. It hasn’t helped them move the project forward and it hasn’t engendered any kinfo of public confidence in the project at all.

You can get attorneys together and argue for minimal transparency and public participation and probably have a lot of legal battles over that. Or, you can lean the other way, toward as much transparency and public participation as possible, like you have in Dana Point, and see where the chips fall. So, I would urge you to lean that way.

 

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Posted in Environment, Headlines, MWDOC, Poseidon, Water, Water BoardingComments (1)

L.A. Poised to Ban Plastic Bags: Surf City Vote Hinges on EIR Cost


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

Los Angeles might soon be joining a growing web of California jurisdictions banning single-use, plastic carry-out bags.

The L.A. City Council had earlier expressed support for some sort of plastic bag ban, but controversy over whether a fee should be placed on paper bags – or whether they should be banned too – had slowed the process. On April 4, the council’s Energy and Environment Committee recommended a gradual phase-in approach consisting of a series of 6-month steps starting with a grace period, followed by a ban on just plastic bags, then next a 10-cent charge on paper bags, and finally a ban on both paper and plastic. The ban would not include the plastic bags used for fresh produce or meats.

It’s not a done deal yet because the full city council still needs to weigh in, but if all goes according to plan, the ban should take effect before the end of 2012.

The L.A. Bureau of Sanitation estimates that the city uses 2.3 billion plastic bags and 400 million paper bags a year and that the bag recycling rate is only 5 percent for plastic and 21 percent for paper. The rest end up in landfills or, worse still, as litter.

The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, a group of plastic bag makers and distributors, is putting forth an all-out effort to block the spread of plastic bag bans within the state through legal challenges. On March 23, L.A. county’s ordinance banning plastic bags and placing a 10-cent fee on paper bags was upheld in a Superior Court ruling. Other California jurisdictions which have enacted similar bans include the cities of San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Palo Alto, Santa Clara and San Jose in the northern region and Santa Monica, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Calabasas and Malibu in the south. More ban ordinances are in the works in Pasadena, Dana Point, Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach, to name a few.

A pivotal California Supreme Court decision in July 2011 eased the way for local plastic bag bans by ruling that Manhattan Beach, because it is a small community, did not have to complete a lengthy study of the environmental impact of disposable paper bags before baring retailers from dispensing plastic ones. Such environmental impact reports (EIRs) are costly to prepare, and the plastic bag industry has used them to block municipalities from enacting a local bag ban by suing when an EIR has not been filed. L.A. city plans to borrow from the EIR L.A. county used in implementing its ordinance.

The Huntington Beach City Council first considered a local plastic bag ban last August and has since drafted its own EIR which, if all goes well, should be finalized in June, according to Councilwoman Connie Boardman. The final EIR will include responses to issues raised in the public comment period which just closed on March 26.

Still unsettled is whether a fee on paper bags would remain at 10 cents, as originally proposed, or upped to 25 cents to better motivate consumers to switch to reusable bags, the ultimate aim. Anyone participating in either the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children or the Supplemental Food Program would be exempt from any such fee.

The biggest sticking point in Huntington Beach, however, is the $29,000 tab for the EIR. The council had stipulated at the get-go that the city would go ahead with the EIR but not release it, and thus no vote on the ban would occur, until its cost is reimbursed in full by outside entities. A fundraising effort is underway, coordinated by the Surfrider Foundation which is donating $3,000. If the fundraising efforts are unsuccessful and the EIR remains in storage, $29,000 will have been spent for nothing.

Another sticking point with some council members is that they want other cities to take the lead before Huntington Beach should act, if ever, to ban plastic bags. Among plastic bag ban supporters, however, there is hope that with the continued passage of local bans, especially the one in L.A. city, a tipping point will be reached soon for a successful run at a statewide ban.

A bill proposing a statewide ban failed in 2010, even though it was supported by the California Grocers Association on the basis that the patchwork, city-by-city bans create confusion for both stores and shoppers (AB 1998). Opponents of the ban, representing the plastic bag trade and a lobbying group for the plastics industry, had argued that a ban would cost jobs and that paper bags are just as bad for the environment because of the energy used to make them. If California had passed a ban, it would have been the first of its kind in the nation.

Plastic bag litter is not only an eyesore on land but also fouls waterways and kills marine animals who mistake the bags for food. A floating plastic bag resembles a jellyfish, which might explain why plastic bags are found clogging the digestive tracks of dead sea turtles and marine mammals like whales and dolphins. Plastic bags are a significant source of ocean pollution because, like all plastics derived from petroleum, they are non-biodegradable. Rather, they fragment over time into smaller bits of plastic thought to persist in the ocean environment beyond any meaningful human timescale.

The Long Beach-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation has been measuring the buildup up of plastic debris in an area of the Pacific twice the size of Texas and dubbed the “Pacific Garbage Patch” which, in 1999, already contained six times more plastic than zooplankton. Preliminary analysis of ocean samples collected less than a decade later indicate that the ratio of plastic to plankton has risen six-fold.

Even here right off the coast of southern California, Algalita has found plastic debris at all ocean depths and in amounts sometimes exceeding twice that of zooplankton.

The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition has made it their business to try to debunk the environmental claims made by plastic bag ban proponents (visit www.SaveThePlasticBag.com). Even if half of what the coalition says is true, the fact remains that throwaway plastic bags are wasteful and easily replaced by reusable bags.

The pace at which local bans are cropping up all over California is picking up and hopefully marking the beginning of the end of the single-use, plastic carryout bag era.

 

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Posted in Environment, Headlines, WaterComments (1)

Surf City’s Mayor Will Take Heavenly Flight


 

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Surf City’s number one pilot, the Honorable Mayor Joe Carchio, who has been dubbed by the Voice as “the best mayor Surf City has ever had,” may very well reach the peak of his political career on Nov. 2 at 4 p.m. when he jumps into the city’s police helicopter, HB1, and is carried to the heavens for a two-hour fact finding and brainstorming tour.

Carchio requested the lift so that he can discuss the city’s helicopter outsourcing contracts with Newport Beach and Costa Mesa and to be updated on the copter program, according to an e-mail from Chief of Police Kenneth Small that was passed on to the Voice.

Tours have also been offered to all the other members of the City Council.

The Voice was alarmed at first. After all, when you factor in costs for gas and staff time, helicopter rides are expensive—about $675 per hour in this case, according to Small.

But Surf City’s taxpayers may rest assured that not a single penny of their money will be wasted by our mayor—whose spend-thrift ways with their money are well known.

That’s because, this time, Joe Carchio—our mayor and pilot—has his feet planted firmly upon solid ground.

“He’s going up during one of our normal patrol flights,” the Chief explained in an e-mail to the Voice. “There’s no special flight arranged for him, so there is no real cost associated with it.”

That’s a relief; unless, of course, somebody decides to give the mayor the controls to the copter for even a second, in which case Surf City’s citizens should be no more or less amused than when he is piloting their city council meetings.

One has to wonder how the mayor, even with his known communications skills, will be able to have a meaningful discussion about important city matters in a noisy copter cabin, where even if you shout you aren’t likely to be heard.

On the bright side, however, the mayor can apply the skills he has acquired after almost a year of running city council meetings without listening to or understanding what others are saying to him or being able to make sense of his own words. Based on that experience, all he has to do is say, as loud as he can, “That’s not going to happen while I’m the mayor of this city,” and everything will be fine.

At the next meeting of the City Council, after the mayor returns to earth, it will be a pleasure, as always, to hear him share his unique insights.

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Investigation: Mayor Carchio stands in line at Albertsons for free knife


By John Earl
Surf City Voice

At approximately 5 p.m. today Huntington Beach Mayor Joe Carchio was sighted at the Albertsons super market in the Sea Cliff shopping center at the corner of Yorktown and Main St. near downtown Huntington Beach.

The sighting was made by this reporter while he shopped for Dryer’s ice cream (selling at $6 for two cartons) for my 91-year-old father, who eats lots of rocky road and vanilla ice cream and who is famous among the store’s check-out cashiers for buying more tapioca pudding than anyone.

It’s not unusual to see local celebrities shopping at my favorite Albertsons. Other notables sighted include: former city administrator Paul Cook; former mayor John Erskine; and, former city treasurer, now our county treasurer, Shari Freidenrich.

Curious about an announcement for the free giveaway of one paring knife per customer, provided the would-be recipients arrived “within three minutes in the center of the deli section,” this reporter, who has no desire for another paring knife if he even has one already (I have no idea), walked slowly from the ice cream freezers to the deli section out of curiosity only, wanting to know what kind of people would rush from one side of the store to the other within three minutes to get a free paring knife and what devious corporate scheme was under way.

When I arrived in the deli, long after another shopper, who smiled eagerly as she pushed her partially full shopping cart past me at high speed, I observed a line of about 20 people waiting for their free knives. Standing with them was the mayor.

He was dressed casually and had been browsing the deli without a shopping cart, unaware that I was watching every move he made.

At first, I tried to hide my face, fearing that he might be angry at recent stories I have written about his political performance, stories that—like all of my other (many) stories about the mayor—probably didn’t show his better side, very much.

But far from holding a petty grudge, the mayor was gracious, cheerful and bouncy—like the former restaurant host that he is. With a big smile on his face he shook my hand, nearly jumping for joy, and said, “We’re going to get a free knife,” gesturing to me to join him in line.

I respectfully declined, but did say out loud to the store employee who was handing out the free knives, “How about some free health care for your workers?” Nobody else seemed to listen, but the mayor laughed.

Then I headed for the checkout stand where I told the cashier that I had given up a free knife just to stand in her line. She informed me that the knife giveaway had been going on for several days straight and that it was getting annoying to hear the announcer everyday telling the customers to run to the deli within three minutes to get a free knife.

“I’m about to use one of those knives on that guy if he says that one more time,” she threatened, laughingly.

Then I wondered, did the mayor, who has been spotted by this observant reporter before at the same Albertsons, have heads up about the free knife?

Was he running some sort of racket at my local Albertsons?

Had he been coming into the store for several days in a row, only pretending to shop so that he could pick up a free paring knife each time?

How many paring knives does he have at home, anyway?

Will the mayor report the gift (or gifts) on his 700 form at City Hall?

Rest assured, the Surf City Voice is investigating.

 

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Mayor, Harper, Go After Mobile Home Board Without Public Input


By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Editor’s note: This story has been revised since its original posting. Photo: Mobile home owners attend city meeting in July to discuss possible revisions to the city’s Mobile Home Advisory Board. They were not invited to two subsequent meetings.

To the exclusion of the city’s mobile home park residents, a government review committee has worked quietly in the background to produce proposals that would either officially eliminate the city’s Mobile Home Advisory Board (MHAB) or probably cause it to die by atrophy, the Surf City Voice has learned.

The two meetings—virtually unannounced—were held by the Intergovernmental Relations Committee (IRC) which has been reviewing all city run committees recently for ways to cut costs.

HB residents interested in the fate of the other city committees may also have been excluded from those meetings.

Mayor Joe Carchio chairs the IRC. Councilmembers Matt Harper and Devin Dwyer are its other two members.

Carchio recently joined Harper to accuse the MHAB of bias against mobile home park owners, but under his watch the IRC has been biased in its own way against mobile home park residents, as shown by their exclusion from the meetings.

While Carchio, who as chairperson bears ultimate responsibility for how the IRC meetings are managed, did nothing to inform mobile home park residents of either meeting, he did have the opportunity—prior to the second of two of those consecutively unannounced IRC meetings—to speak with Vickie Talley, president of the Mobile Home Educational Trust (MHET), the lobby group that helped Carchio get elected in 2006 and contributed $10,000 as part of a $40,000 real estate industry PAC fund spent in an attempt to elect Harper—who won—and two other failed candidates in the 2010 city council race.

Based on a report given to the Voice that Carchio had called Talley by phone, Cabrillo mobile home park resident Mary Jo Baretich was “outraged” about Carchio’s alleged call to Talley and being left out of the meetings when contacted by the Voice. “It’s none of her business,” she said, noting that Talley is not a mobile home park owner, despite heading up the MHET.

Baretich is also a regional manager for the Golden State Manufactured-home Owners League (GSMOL), which lobbies for mobile home residents with but a fraction of MHET’s funds (and spent nothing on local candidates). “We have over 6,000 voters in our 18 mobile home parks,” she said, adding that, “We have a right to be informed about meetings and a right to speak.”

Those voters who live in the city’s mobile home parks should not be treated as “second class citizens,” she said, adding that “the city is already allowing many of them to be thrown out into the street,” a reference to skyrocketing, unaffordable rents and park subdivision schemes. Baretich said she will be talking with GSMOL attorneys about possible violations of state law by the city.

But when contacted by the Voice, Carchio said that he had not called Talley but had bumped into her at the last City Council meeting and asked her why mobile home park owners did not show up for MHAB meetings. “I just wanted to get her ideas because they hadn’t participated in the past,” he said.

Carchio also said he didn’t know that mobile home owners and the general public hadn’t been informed of the meetings. “If the message didn’t get out, we were wrong,” he said. “Everything we do should be transparent and if we don’t do that, shame on us.”

Mobile home owner/park residents and their advocates had attended two previous IRC meetings to say that—due to its official city status—the MHAB helps keep them informed and provides some protection that they could not hope to have otherwise. They assumed, after signing contact lists, that city staff would keep them informed of all future meetings.

But city staffer Kellee Fritzal told the Voice that notifications were not sent for its meetings held on the 9th and the 23rd of August.

California’s Brown Act requires government agencies to publicly post agendas for legislative meetings. Compliance can be as simple as posting meeting agendas on the outside wall of City Hall 72 hours before the scheduled meeting times. But few people are aware that agendas are posted on at that location and fewer still are likely to travel across town to view them.

Curiously, a check of the city’s window cases outside of City Hall Tuesday night (Aug. 23) did not reveal the IRC meeting agenda for that night or any other night. However, the next morning, Frymire e-mailed the Voice a copy of a digital photo that she took that morning which showed the IRC agenda. (This paragraph was added for clarification, Aug. 28, 2 p.m.)

Most city agendas are posted conveniently on the City’s website, but as Aug. 23 the IRC’s agenda was not. In fact, the IRC schedule and location information, without agendas, was provided only by an obscure website link and the information provided was incorrect. Informed about the problem by the Voice, Laurie Frymire, the city’s Community Relations Officer, said she would fix the problem.

The MHAB was formed to act in an advisory capacity to the city on matters of mobile home park life in the city, including rent, health and safety, and legal issues, and to assist with settling disputes between park owners and residents. Many park residents are senior citizens living on fixed incomes and hundreds have lost their homes in recent years, according to advocates for those who remain in city mobile home parks.

The MHAB currently is designed to have nine members, including three park residents, three park owners, and three at-large members. All of its appointees are nominated by City Council liaisons (Councilmembers Joe Shaw and Keith Bohr) but must be approved by the council majority.

Harper’s and Carchio’s bias claim stems from the fact that, for the most part, park owners have refused over the past several years to participate in MHAB meetings despite regular encouragement by city staff to do so.

Harper proclaims that the city would be “liberating” mobile home park residents by dissolving the MHAB and leaving them to run their own independent organization; parroting Harper, Carchio says he wants to help them “to get rid of Big Brother streaming down your neck.”

Perhaps unknown to Harper—the city’s mobile home owners already have their own Mobile Home Park Coalition, but the majority of councilmembers, including Harper and Carchio, pay no attention to it. And it’s not big city government which worries the city’s mobile home owners, but the big and well-financed corporate brother that speaks for park owners; without an official connection to City Hall, fixed-income seniors can’t compete with the MHET for the ears of their political representatives.

In previous but announced IRC meetings held in July and Aug. 2, which were well attended by mobile home park residents, the prevailing opinion, minus a stern diatribe by Harper and the inability by Carchio to state a coherent position—was that the MHAB should continue but with greater efforts made to encourage participation by owners who could appoint park managers to represent them at meetings.

During the Aug. 9 IRC meeting, unannounced for mobile home owners, the MHAB was again discussed but no further changes were suggested, according to Fritzal. Although at-large member and current MHAB chairperson Barbara Boskovich, whom Carchio favored in previous IRC meetings, was invited to the meeting by phone call, no other interested parties were contacted, Fritzal confirmed.

Fritzal told the Voice that she also did not send out notifications to mobile home park residents or the general public for the Aug. 23 IRC meeting. Carchio, Dwyer and Harper, who had a copy of Frymire’s presentation of the previous agreed upon MHAB proposal, were the only people in attendance, according to Councilmember Devin Dwyer, who told the Voice that he was surprised when he found out there was a meeting on that day.

Fritzal said in an e-mail to the Voice that she didn’t send out notices “due to just reviewing [the] power point I did not think it would be changed or discussed. My fault.”

Major Changes
But major changes to the original agreed upon proposals were discussed and adopted at that meeting, without the input of stakeholders who would be most affected by any changes adopted by the City Council. Now two recommended options will be put before the council at its Sept. 6 study session. Then a final version will go to the council on September 15 for a full vote.

One change, favored by Harper and Carchio, would dissolve the committee. The second recommended option would cut the board from 9 to 6 members by eliminating the at-large members whose current purpose is to provide a buffer between park owners and park residents and an independent look at the issues. Under this option there would also be two-year term limits instead of the current four-year terms.

Tim Geddes is one of the at-large nominees whose appointment has been held up by the IRC review process, and who Harper has singled out with particular ire, calling him a “political professional.” Actually, Geddes is a high school history teacher, but Harper has been a paid political professional since he was elected to the Huntington Beach Union High School District in 1998. He has served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen since 2007.

Geddes accused Harper and Carchio of coming up with the accusation of political bias after they realized there would be no substantial cost benefits by reducing or eliminating city committees. “The fact they are seeking to eliminate at-large positions means that they are trying to marginalize community involvement,” he said. “How dare they say it is political when they have made it that from the start.”

Dan Kalmick, the other at-large nominee, was a city council candidate in the past two elections and, like Geddes, has had his differences on city issues with the usual council majority that includes Mayor Pro Tem Don Hansen, Bohr, Dwyer and Carchio. But Bohr put aside those differences and joined Shaw to nominate both Geddes and Kalmick anyway, along with Sharon Dana, who is nominated to serve as a mobile home owner representative from Shorecliffs, a mobile home park on Beach Blvd.

Dwyer told the Voice that he doesn’t see the logic in the argument that the MHAB is too political since the process of public representation in government is by definition political. Throughout, he has favored keeping the at-large members as part of the MHAB while going forward with greater efforts to increase involvement by mobile home park owners.

Dana, who confirmed that she too had been unaware of the last two IRC meetings, called Harper’s criticism of Geddes part of a “personal vendetta” and said that the proposal to chop off at-large members from the advisory board would kill it.

Alluding to the theory that mobile home park owners have nothing to gain by legitimizing the MHAB when doing so would only dilute their political influence through campaign financing, Dana explained. “That would really eliminate the board because you will not be able to get the owners or their reps. Then they [the council] will use that as an excuse to eliminate the board.”

Note: Proposed changes to the Mobile Home Advisory Board will be discussed the board’s next meeting, Aug. 29, at City Hall, at 6 p.m.

 

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HB City Council to Consider Plastic Bag Ban


By Sarah (Steve) Mosko
Special to the Voice

On August 1, Long Beach became the thirteenth jurisdiction within California to ban single-use plastic carryout bags at supermarkets and large retailers. Huntington Beach (HB) could soon join that list if City Council members Connie Boardman, Devin Dwyer and Joe Shaw can convince other council members.

A proposal to develop an ordinance to ban flimsy, disposable plastic carryout bags is on the Monday, August 15 HB City Council meeting agenda. The meeting starts at 7 pm at City Hall.

If a HB ordinance were to be modeled after the Long Beach one, it would also include a 10 cent customer fee for each paper bag dispensed, as the goal is not to convert to disposable paper bags but rather to encourage use of bags which can be used over 100 times.

The Long Beach ban took effect after a pivotal and unanimous California Supreme Court decision on July 14 which eases the way for local plastic bag bans by ruling that the city of Manhattan Beach did not have to complete a lengthy study of the environmental impact of disposable paper bags before baring retailers from dispensing plastic ones.

Such environmental impact reports are costly, and the plastic bag industry has successfully used them to block a municipality from enacting a local plastic bag ban by suing the city when an environmental impact report has not been performed.

Californians consume more than 12 billion single-use plastic bags per year, according to Environment California, a state-wide environmental advocacy organization. Very few get recycled, in part because plastic bags are rarely included in curbside recycling programs.

Plastic bag litter is not only an eyesore on land but also fouls waterways and kills marine animals who mistake the bags for food. A floating plastic bag resembles a jellyfish, which probably explains why plastic bags are found clogging the digestive tracts of dead sea turtles and marine mammals like whales and dolphins.

Plastic bags are a significant source of ocean pollution because, like all plastics derived from petroleum, they are non-biodegradable and are thought to persist in the ocean for up to hundreds of years as they just fragment over time into smaller bits of plastic.

The Long Beach-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation has been measuring the buildup up of plastic debris in an area of the Pacific twice the size of Texas and dubbed the “Pacific Garbage Patch” which, in 1999, already contained six times more plastic than zooplankton. Preliminary analysis of ocean samples collected less than a decade later indicate that the ratio of plastic to plankton has risen six-fold.

Even here right off the coast of southern California, Algalita has previously found plastic debris at all ocean depths and in amounts sometimes exceeding twice that of zooplankton.

Local attempts in California to ban the dispensing of throw-away plastic bags began to multiply after the plastic industry successfully lobbied the state legislature in 2006 to pass a law that specifically prohibited cities or counties from imposing fees on plastic bags while supposedly encouraging plastic bag recycling by mandating that stores install plastic bag recycling bins for customers to bring back their used bags (AB2447).

Environmental groups, like the Surfrider Foundation and Costa Mesa-based Earth Resource Foundation, had generally favored the bag fee approach as a way to motivate shoppers to get in the habit of bringing their own reusable bags. The prohibition against fees on plastic bags remains in effect until 2013.

An attempt to enact instead a state-wide ban on plastic carryout bags failed just last September when the California Senate voted down a bill already passed by the Assembly (AB 1998). The bill also included a requirement that shoppers be charged for paper carryout bags. Then Governor Schwarzenegger had signaled he would have signed it. Read the full story

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