Agenda for City Council & Redevelopment Successor Agency 19 August 2014

Topics include: $300 million (!!) off-balance-sheet Redevelopment Debts on the consent calendar, $550,000 proposed loan (!!) from city General Fund to Redevelopment Successor Agency for administrative expenses (!!) on the consent calendar, parking changes requested by Nicky Rotten restaurant at Orange and First, density increases –two homes on one lot proposed for D Avenue & two homes on one lot proposed for E Avenue, rename Coronado Animal Care Facility in Honor of PAWS founder Louise Shirey, painting of bicycle lanes, notice of road closures. 

Agenda icon yellowBelow is the outline agenda for your review.  You can also view it by clicking here.

To view the complete agenda packet, click here.

Reasons why residents would want to view the complete agenda packet are:

  • To view the draft minutes of the prior city council meeting, and
  • To view the staff reports with details of each agenda item.




Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Coronado City Hall Council Chambers 1825 Strand Way Coronado, California 92118


In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if you need special assistance to participate in a City meeting or other services offered by this City, please contact the City Clerk’s office, (619) 522-7320. Assisted listening devices are available at this meeting. Ask the City Clerk if you desire to use this device. Upon request, the agenda and documents in the agenda packet can be made available in appropriate alternative formats to persons with a disability. Notification of at least 48 hours prior to the meeting or time when services are needed will assist the City staff in assuring that reasonable arrangements can be made to provide accessibility to the meeting or service.



    AUTHORITY: Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2)
    Facts and circumstances need not be disclosed pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(e)(1)
    One (1) potential case
  2. CLOSED SESSION: CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – INITIATION OF LITIGATION AUTHORITY: Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(40 One (1) potential case(s)


    CITY NEGOTIATORS: Blair King, City Manager; Tom Ritter, Assistant City
    Manager; Leslie Suelter, Director of Administrative Services; Johanna Canlas, City Attorney EMPLOYEE ORGANIZATIONS:American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Local 127; Coronado Police Officers’ Association
  2. COMMUNICATIONS – ORAL: Each person wishing to speak before the City Council on only matters listed on this agenda shall approach the City Council, give their name, and limit their presentation to 3 minutes.



REGULAR MEETING (SA items are denoted by an *.) – 4 P.M.


*3. MINUTES OF CITY COUNCIL/SUCCESSOR AGENCY: Approval of the minutes of the Regular meeting of July 15, 2014.

a. Proclamation: Optimist Coronado Sports Fiesta Day. (Pg 1)

5. CONSENT CALENDAR: All items listed under this section are considered to be routine and will be acted upon with one motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless a member of the City Council or the public so requests, in which event, the item will be considered separately in its normal sequence.

a. Approval of Reading by Title and Waiver of Reading In Full of Ordinances on this Agenda. (Pg 5)

Recommendation: Approve the reading by title and waive the reading in full of all Ordinances on the agenda.

*b. Review and Approve that the Warrants, as Certified by the City/Agency Treasurer, are all Correct, Just, and Conform to the Approved Budget for FY 2013-2014 and FY 2014-2015. (Pg 7)

Recommendation: Approve the Warrants as certified by the City/Agency Treasurer.

c. Approval of a Request from the San Diego Fleet Week Foundation to Close the 1000 Block of Isabella Avenue from 3 p.m.–7 p.m. on Thursday, September 18, 2014, to Display Cars that will be Participating in the Coronado Speed Festival. (Pg 121)

Recommendation: Approve the closure of the 1000 block of Isabella Avenue from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. so that the cars, which will participate in the Coronado Speed Festival, may be on public display.

d. Approval of Request from the Coronado School of the Arts (CoSA) Foundation to Waive the Alcohol Prohibition on Public Property to Allow Service of Margaritas and Wine from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at a Fundraising Event to be held on Tennis Court #2 at Sixth Street and D Avenue on Friday Evening, October 3, 2014. (Pg 125)

Recommendation: Approve the request to waive the alcohol prohibition on public property to allow service of margaritas and wine on tennis court #2 at Sixth Street and D Avenue on October 3, 2104.

e. Consideration of the Request from the Japan Society of San Diego and Tijuana for Coronado to be a Host City for the Japan-America Grassroots Summit in September 2014 and Authorization for City Personnel and Vehicles to be Used in Transporting Coronado-Hosted Attendees. (Pg 129)

Recommendation: Approve the City as a host city for the Japan-America Grassroots Summit to be held from September 23-29, 2014, in the City of San Diego and authorize assignment of City Recreation Department personnel and vehicles to be used in transporting summit attendees who are hosted by Coronado families.

*f.  Approval of the Administrative Budget and Adoption of Resolutions Authorizing a Loan Agreement between the City of Coronado and the Successor Agency to the Former Community Development Agency to Fund Administrative Expenses for the Period July through December 2014 and for the Upcoming Period Starting January 1, 2015 and Ending June 30, 2015. (Pg 133)


1)  Approve the Administrative Budget for the upcoming period starting January 1, 2015, and ending June 30, 2015; and

2)  Adopt the resolutions of the City and the Successor Agency.

*g.  Approve the Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule 14-15B (ROPS 14-15B). (Pg 143)

Recommendation: Approve the ROPS 14-15B for the period January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015.

h. Adoption of a Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Successor Memorandum of Understanding Between the City of Coronado and the Coronado Police Officers’ Association for Fiscal Year 2014-15. (Pg 153)

Recommendation: Adopt “A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Coronado Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Memorandum of Understanding Between the City of Coronado and the Coronado Police Officers’ Association for Fiscal Year 2014-15 and Approving Corresponding Changes to the Personnel Authorization and Compensation Plan.”

i. Authorization for the City Manager to Execute an Agreement for Parking Citation Processing Services with Phoenix Information Systems Group. (Pg 185)

Recommendation: Authorize the City Manager to execute the Agreement.

j. Authorization for the City Manager to Execute a Three-Year Agreement with Benefit & Risk Management Services (BRMS) to Provide Employee Benefit Administration Services Estimated at Approximately $14,000 to $16,000 Annually. (Pg 203)

Recommendation: Authorize the City Manager to execute a three-year agreement with Benefit & Risk Management Services (BRMS) to administer various employee benefits and implement an online open enrollment, employee communication and reporting system.

k. Authorization to Execute a Monthly Service Contract with Kronos, Inc. for Electronic Time and Attendance Tracking Services Through Its Proprietary Software and Approval of the Use of $34,700 of Contingency Funds for Implementation Costs. (Pg 237)

Recommendation: Authorize the City Manager to execute a monthly service agreement with Kronos, Inc. for its proprietary Workforce ReadyTM- Software with three years of guaranteed pricing and approve the use of $34,700 from the available General Fund contingency for one-time implementation costs.

l. Authorization for the City Manager to Reject all Bids Received for Janitorial Services and to Direct Staff to Revise the Service Specifications and Re-advertise. (Pg 253)

Recommendation: Authorize the City Manager to reject all bids received for janitorial services and to direct that staff seek new bid proposals with revised service specifications.

m. Award of Construction Contract to Global Power Group, Inc. in the Amount of $167,740 for the Cays Main Pump Station Emergency Generator. (Pg 255)

Recommendation: Award a contract for the Cays Main Pump Station Emergency Generator project to Global Power Group, Inc. in the amount of $167,740.

6. COMMUNICATIONS – ORAL: Each person wishing to speak before the City Council on any matter shall approach the City Council, give their name, and limit their presentation to 3 minutes. State law generally precludes the City Council from discussing or acting upon any topic initially presented during oral communication. (ORAL COMMUNICATIONS WILL BE LIMITED TO A TOTAL OF 10 MINUTES; ANY FURTHER COMMUNICATIONS WILL BE HEARD PRIOR TO THE MEETING ADJOURNMENT)

a. Update on Council Directed Actions and Citizen Inquiries. (Informational Item)

    1. Public Hearing: Adoption of a Resolution Approving a One-Lot TentativeParcelMap to Allow for Condominium Ownership of Two Residential Units for the Property Legally Described as Lot 27, Block 47, Map 376CBSI, Addressed as 825–827 C Avenue in the R-3 (Multiple Family Residential) Zone (PC 2014-07Falletta, Tony). (Pg 257)Planning Commission Recommendation: Adopt the resolution, entitled “A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Coronado Approving a One-Lot Tentative Parcel Map to Allow for Condominium Ownership of Two Residential Units for the Property Legally Described as Lot 27, Block 47, Map 376 CBSI, Addressed as 825-827 C Avenue, Coronado, California.”
    2. Public Hearing: Adoption of a Resolution Approving a Two-Lot Tentative Parcel Map to Allow for Condominium Ownership of Four Residential Units for the Property Legally Described as Lot 27 and 28, Block 50, Map 376CBSI, Addressed as 827–833 E Avenue in the R-3 (Multiple Family Residential) Zone (PC 2014-08 Wilson, Ken). (Pg 269)Planning Commission Recommendation: Adopt the resolution, entitled “A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Coronado Approving a Two-Lot Tentative Parcel Map to Allow for Condominium Ownership of Four Residential Units for the Property Legally Described as Lot 27 and 28, Block 50, Map 376 CBSI, Addressed as 827-833 E Avenue, Coronado, California.”
  3. COMMISSION AND COMMITTEE REPORTS: (Questions allowed but no discussion or action.)a. Report from the Port Commissioner Concerning Port Activities.
    b. Report from San Diego County South Area Cities’ Representative to the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

a. Council Reports on Inter-Agency Committee and Board Assignments. (Questions

allowed to clarify but no responses, discussion or action.) (Pg 281)

b. Consideration of Reappointment of Two Incumbents to Serve a Second Term on the Coronado Library Board of Trustees. (Pg 289)
Recommendation: Reappoint Sarah Blakely Brown and Elizabeth Warren to the Library Board of Trustees for a second term to expire August 31, 2017
c. Consideration of Appointment to Fill One Vacancy on the Historic Resource Commission. (Pg 291)
Recommendation: Appoint one individual to serve out the remainder of the current term, which expires on December 31, 2014.
  1. Accept Report and Receive Presentation on the Results of the National Citizen Survey for the City of Coronado. (Pg 317)
    Recommendation: Accept report and receive presentation.
  2. Consider the Recommendation of the Cultural Arts Commission to Purchase the Sculpture “Imagine Dragon” by Artist KentKraber, with Sculpture to Remain at the Coronado Public Library and, if Approved, Direct Staff to Appropriate $10,000 to the Library Budget for Purchase, and Authorize the City Manager to Execute a Purchase Agreement with the Artist. (Pg 321)Recommendation: Authorize the purchase of “Imagine Dragon” as a permanent addition to the City of Coronado’s Public Art Collection, as recommended by the Cultural Arts Commission, to be displayed at its current site of the Coronado Public Library front lawn; authorize the City Manager to execute a purchase agreement with the artist; and appropriate $10,000 from the General Fund to the Library budget for purchase.
  3. Authorization for the City Manager to Issue to NickyRottens Bar and Burger Joint an Amended Permit for Use of City Property for Commercial Activity Changing the Location of the Approved Valet Parking Zone from 100 Orange Avenue to 126 Orange Avenue. (Pg 327)Recommendation: Authorize the City Manager to issue the Amended CUP to Nicky Rottens Bar and Burger Joint changing the location of the approved valet parking zone from 100 Orange Avenue to 126 Orange Avenue.
  4. Recommendation from the Traffic Operations Committee Regarding Adoption of a Policy for Installation of Red Curb Zones. (Pg 337)
    Recommendation: Adopt a policy for the installation of red curb zones.
  5. Introduction of “An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Coronado, California, Amending Section 40.48.012 (C) of Chapter 40.48 of Title 40 of the Coronado Municipal Code Regarding Public Rights-of-Way to Accommodate Public Viewing of the Independence Day Parade.” (Pg 351)Recommendation: Introduce “An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Coronado, California, amending Section 40.48.012 (C) of Chapter 40.48 of Title 40 of the Coronado Municipal Code regarding public rights-of-way to accommodate public viewing of the Independence Day Parade.”


i. Adoption of a Resolution of the City Council of the City of Coronado Appointing a City Council Representative to Serve on the San Diego Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Services Authority Governing Board. (Pg 357)
Recommendation: Adopt “A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Coronado appointing a City Councilmember to serve on the San Diego Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Services Authority Governing Board.”

  1. CITY ATTORNEY: No report.
    1. Consideration of Request from Mayor Tanaka that the City Council Consider the Request of PAWS of Coronado to Revisit the Name of the City’s Animal Care Facility on First Street and Consider the Request of PAWS to Rename the Facility in Memory of Louise Shirey. (Pg 361)
    2. Consideration of Request from Councilmember Woiwode that the City Council Place on a Future Agenda an Item to Identify Appropriate Bicycle Markings for all Streets in Coronado’s Jurisdiction; and Develop a Policy of Installing those Markings in a Cost Effective Way, Consistent with Street Maintenance Schedules. (Pg 365)
    3. Consideration of Request from Councilmember Bailey that the City Council Consider Recommendations Concerning Bridge and Strand Closure Notifications. (Pg 369)

Writings and documents regarding an agenda item on an open session meeting, received after official posting and distributed to the Council for consideration, will be made available for public viewing at the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall, 1825 Strand Way, during normal business hours. Materials submitted for consideration should be forwarded to the City Clerk’s Office at


Copyright © 2014 Barbara T. Denny, Esq.


Feline Friday: Happy World Cat Day!

photo-381Cats rule the internet. And today around the world, cats rule. Remember to give extra attention to your tiny tigers today. It’s their day.

For the famous cats of the internet, click here.

For the best cartoon cats, click here.

The best cat is always your own. You are their world. Be good to your furry felines today and every day.

Copyright © 2014 Barbara T. Denny, Esq.







Water Wednesday: Coronado Shows Leadership in Addressing Extreme Drought

Along with neighboring cities, called participating agencies, in the Metropolitan Wastewater Joint Powers Authority, I’m proud to represent Coronado’s water needs on the Pure Water Recycling Steering Committee.

Coronado’s Regional Leadership

Water drops ripples and green leavesProtecting Coronado’s water interests is one of my favorite things to do as your Councilwoman.

As a member of the group tasked with steering an important wastewater recycling project, you can be sure that Coronado’s future water needs are a top priority to me.

The project is big and complex. It’s in its earliest stage. And I’m heartened by the cooperation from San Diego and all of the other participating agencies in the Metropolitan Wastewater Joint Powers Authority (Metro Water JPA), where I also represent Coronado as a Commissioner.

No Water “Surplus” Here

As an environmental attorney with experience and expertise in Land Use and Water Law & Policy, it’s troubling to hear CalAm Water in Coronado state that they have a “surplus” of water stored up for two years. Why? Because it’s not true.

We will never have a “surplus” of water in our Desert Coast Region.  By definition, we can’t have a “surplus” of water in the middle of an extreme drought. For drought to be declared as it was, no surpluses can exist.

Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant aerial viewIt’s misleading to the public to say that Coronado has a “surplus” of water. It fools Coronado residents into thinking that they aren’t in the same boat as the San Diego Region and California State.

Not only are we in the same drought boat as everybody else, but we’re leading the effort to solve our water shortage problem as part of the Pure Water Recycling Project Steering Committee.

What Can You Do? Conserve, Conserve, Conserve Water

Coronado is in the third year of extreme drought. What can you do about it? Conserve, conserve, conserve water. Use less water for your daily needs, landscaping needs, car washing needs, and everything.

Tijuana estuary water with birdsThe governor’s target of “20 by 20″ needs attention. Residents, businesses and governments are urged to reduce total water consumption 20% by the year 2020.

Can you do it? I know you can.

Take this opportunity to educate your children and Scouts about the need for water conservation today.

How Bad Is the Drought? 

It’s extreme.

For the drought map, click here.

For a drought GIF, click here.

Copyright © Barbara T. Denny, Esq.





Councilwoman Barbara Denny to Leave City Government & Return to Private Sector

I look forward to returning to the private sector this fall. As a result, I won’t run for re-election to city council in November.

Ethics road signThank You

Thank you to Coronado for a wonderful 5 years of public service. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working hard for residents, taxpayers, and small businesses. My every word and action as your Councilwoman has been intended to restore civility, ethics, integrity, transparency and financial reason to city council and to city hall.

We are stronger when we work together. Most notably, I’m proud to have worked with residents, council and staff over the years to successfully:

  1. Tsunami Evacuation Route SignKiss the Coronado Tunnel boondoggle goodbye
  2. Enter Coronado into the National Weather Service’s Tsunami Ready & Storm Ready programs
  3. Provide financial analysis of Coronado’s approximately $500 million off-balance-sheet Pension Debts ($300 million) & Redevelopment Debts ($200 million)
  4. Provide government transparency through my popular website, which also has been praised by experienced journalists from Sacramento to Manhattan for transparency and accuracy in the analysis of Coronado city finances
  5. Suggest many reasonable ways to cut out the gross waste from our annual city budget plans
  6. Initiate regular reporting of litigation costs to city council for the purpose of reducing legal costs
  7. Coronado ferry SilvergateInitiate transparent public reporting of city checks and fund balances for taxpayers in four complete council agenda packets available online
  8. Protect Coronado’s water interests as Commissioner, Finance Committee Chairwoman, and Pure Water Recycling Project Steering Committee Member for the Metropolitan Wastewater Joint Powers Authority (Metro Water JPA)
  9. Host  SPEAK OUT CORONADO Town Hall Meetings in our library to inform residents and receive residents’ input
  10. Initiate city enforcement against illegal vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods
  11. Save 6 Orange Avenue bus stops from elimination by our city
  12. Request more bus service in Coronado as a Member of the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Board
  13. Improve Ferry service on San Diego Bay
  14. Cause Starbucks to withdraw its liquor license application from the ABC
  15. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALaunch our city’s beach fire pit clean up
  16. Protect Coronado’s beach environment as a Member of the SANDAG Shoreline Preservation Group
  17. Initiate our city’s smoke-free ordinance
  18. Save several historic homes from demolition, including a beautiful mid-century house on Glorietta Boulevard
  19. Designate many historic homes under the Mills Act for Historic Preservation to preserve our village atmosphere
  20. Reinvigorate Neighborhood Watch to protect residents and our property
  21. MTS busFocus the city on traffic management for neglected Third & Fourth Streets by disclosing this neighborhood’s special legal claim to the Bridge Toll Revenue Funds that the city misspent on other projects
  22. Bring CalTrans representatives to the Coronado Cays to initiate the process of making the Cays entrance safer
  23. Fix the Cays south evacuation gate so that it’s now operable to help residents in the event of a natural or manmade disaster
  24. Improve disaster preparedness through Coronado CERT and Coronado Emergency Radio Operators (CERO)
  25. Transform city dialogue to be inclusive of the Coronado Shores, Cays, and Village and unite residents
  26. Donated a tree in Spreckels Park to Coronado Girl Scouts for the 100 Year Girl Scout Anniversary,
  27. Hosted Girl Scout tour of City Hall, and
  28. More.

Encouragement for Good Candidates to Volunteer

I strongly encourage candidates to run for city council who are pro-resident, professional,  fearless, not conflicted by self-interest, non-partisan, critical thinkers, not rubber stampers, and willing to learn the facts about our city finances.

The deadline to file your candidate papers with our city clerk is Friday, August 8. Contact or 619-522-7320 immediately for more information.

Conflict of interest flowchartThere are two open council seats to be filled this November. Unfortunately, only 2 people have pulled papers to run so far. Both people are personally conflicted by their business interests so it’s unlikely that they’ll put the best interests of all Coronado residents first. Both are well known for their extreme kowtowing to the resort hotel that appears poised to take over our public beach now. Both have belligerently defended the Hotel del Coronado’s current plan to greatly expand its development footprint in the near future. The plan in question violates the public safety standards set by the complex AICUZ-ALCUP-Coronado General Plan process. This pending process is meant to stop overdevelopment encroachment upon the aircraft approaches to the military airport at NASNI.

Future Risks: Tax Hikes & Much More

No More Taxes! logoOver the next four years there will be many critical council votes for residents regarding tax hikes in various forms. It doesn’t matter whether you call them increases in improvement fees, fixed assessments, service charges, bond debts, parcel taxes, or ruby-throated hummingbirds. They are all the same thing in the eyes of the law — tax hikes extracted from our wallets by the city over and above our Proposition 13 guaranteed limit on local property taxes to 1% of our assessed property values.

rue Color ImageCoronado’s annual cut of our local property tax dollars, state tax dollars, and other tax dollars grows larger and larger and larger every year after year after year. Together, they provide city officials with enough Other People’s Money (OPM) to operate our small city. In order to live within our city’s ample means, city officials must make the hard choices and cut out the gross waste documented in our annual budget plans. Undeniably we are overtaxed in Coronado due to our premium beach location. Just like the recent 60% sewer tax hike by the mayor and councilmen, the future tax hikes that will be proposed are unnecessary, wasteful, and abusive.

There will be many more critical votes over the next four years relating to beach access, Risk diceoverdevelopment, the Hotel Del expansion, storm water system, sewer system, golf course irrigation system, Pension Debts, Redevelopment Debts, and more. It’s crucial to residents that at least two candidates out of our population of 23,000 step up to the plate now and run for office out of altruism, rather than self-interest.

The ultimate risk for residents is that no one will protect our best interests.


Copyright © 2014 Barbara T. Denny, Esq.


Feline Friday: An Exercise Wheel for Cats. What Will They Think of Next?

Just when you thought you’d seen everything, someone has invented a treadmill for your feline.  

photo-381Described as a hamster wheel for cats, has information, photos and a video that you can view by clicking here.

The product, called One Fast Cat, currently seeks funding at With 12 days to go, 869 backers have $169,517.00. That’s almost 17 times more than the $10,000 funding goal sought by the inventors. You can read more from Kickstarter by clicking here.

Copyright © 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.


Facts Are In: Government Overspending Swindles Millennials Into Poverty

The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale. ~ Thomas Jefferson

What’s All the Fuss About?

Millennials at The Can Kicks Back have done their homework. Over the last 30 years, the economic gap between younger and older Americans has dramatically widened. While senior poverty has decreased by 5%, rates of child poverty have remained higher and virtually unchanged. Changes in the way government taxes and spends have contributed to shifting more resources to older Americans. Entitlement spending is crowding out everything else so that other priorities are ignored.

Add State and Local Government overspending and debt to the Federal Government overspending and debt and you’ll conclude that government decision-makers at all levels are intentionally forcing future generations into poverty through irresponsible government overspending.

Government overspending at all levels must stop. In Coronado city, our colossal government debt of around $500 million swindles future generations out of a healthy financial future. Coronado’s off-balance-sheet Pension Debts and Redevelopment Debts total around half a billion dollars. As your Councilwoman, one of my priorities is to eradicate city debt in Coronado, not continue business as usual as city officials overspend our children and grandchildren into poverty.

Add State and Local Government overspending to the national debt, which is the result of Federal Government overspending, and you’ll conclude that government decision-makers at all levels are intentionally forcing future generations into poverty through irresponsible government overspending.

What You Can Do About It

The Can Kicks Back logoIf you love your children and grandchildren continue reading here. You can also read the full forty-two page Swindled report by clicking here.

Then, take action. Join the Millennial Movement for generational equity. Make it a priority to defeat the national debt and reclaim the American dream.

Copyright © 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.





Water Wednesday: Groundwater Level in California Basin Hits Historic Low

San Bernadino’s troubles are a red flag warning for us. We live in a desert coast region, with emphasis on DESERT. Water conservation is crucial for all consumers and all government agencies, including Coronado city. We will never have a “surplus” of water. It’s irresponsible for leaders to perpetuate the myth of “surplus water” because it puts local residents and businesses at risk. 

You may not know that by 1964, the San Bernadino Basin in California was at its lowest groundwater level because of a 20 year drought. Twenty years of drought! Today, that same basin’s groundwater level is even lower than in 1964. It’s at an historic low.

Why Does This Matter To Us?

Water drops ripples and green leavesAs water supplies dry up all around California, it’s unrealistic for consumers to assume we aren’t or won’t eventually be affected. As water ratepayers, it’s naive to assume we won’t be rate-gouged by private companies who hold rights to supply water to us for their profit. As government leaders, we’re negligent to ignore this serious issue because it’s not going to go away. Califorrnia is in its third year of official drought. Yet many government leaders have their heads stuck in the sand or are simply averse to hard work.

The Metropolitan Wastewater JPA, on which I proudly serve as the Coronado Commissioner, Finance Chairwoman and Steering Committee Member, are taking action. You can expect to hear more about the Pure Water project for recycling wastewater to reusable standards soon.

The Facts of the San Bernadino Basin

In her 22 July 2014 Los Angeles Times article entitled Groundwater Level In California Basin Hits Historic Low, Veronica Rocha wrote:

The groundwater level in the San Bernardino Basin area is at its lowest point in recorded history, officials say.

Measured in volume, the groundwater level for the basin is now about 500,000 acre-feet below full, according to Douglas Headrick, general manager for the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District.

That would put it below the previous low recorded in 1964, a period that followed a 20-year drought, officials said.

“This isn’t just an issue for San Bernardino, but many other cities depend on this basin for much of their water supply, including Redlands, Highland, Loma Linda, Rialto, Colton and Riverside,” the district’s water resource manager, Bob Tincher, said.

The San Bernardino district and the Western Municipal Water District in Riverside, he said, were facing major challenges, including significant cutbacks in deliveries from the California State Water Project through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and the Colorado River.

The region’s water problems are underscored by the fact that few residents know where their water comes from, Tincher said.

A survey of 400 residents conducted in March that was commissioned by 13 water agencies, including the San Bernardino district, found that just 3% to 5% of Inland Empire residents knew that 30% of the area’s water supplies were imported.

“These survey results showed us that we have some work to do,” Tincher said. “If Inland Empire residents do not know that we are dependent on water imported from Northern California for close to a third of our water supply, then they will not understand the need for projects such as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which will safeguard our critical imported water supplies.”

Part of the plan includes the construction of two massive tunnels that would move fresh water from the delta to pumping stations that distribute water to the region.

To read the story in the LA Times and see sixteen photos, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.

Come On, Get Happy: New Happiness Study Released

A new happiness study from researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver found that some people are still willing to relocate to the unhappiest U.S. cities for good job opportunities or lower housing prices.

The research by UBC’s Edward L. Glaeser, Joshua D. Gottlieb and Oren Ziv suggests some people are willing to trade happiness for other gains. Their findings are in a working paper called “Unhappy Cities.” The U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research released the working paper last week. The San Diego metropolitan region on the researchers’ map was found to be somewhat unhappy.

Come On, Get Happy

CelebrateI feel lucky to have been born and raised in one of the happiest areas of the USA. Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ are the three counties right in the middle of the Garden State that make up what we fondly call Central Jersey. The census takers and other statisticians call Central Jersey a PMSA, which stands for Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area. A PMSA has a combined population of 1 million or more.

It’s no wonder those of us from Central Jersey are optimistic, genuine, friendly and enjoy life! We hail from one of the happiest areas of the United States.

It’s common knowledge that Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ holds top ranking as one of the most affluent areas of the USA with excellent financial fitness. Financial fitness includes low consumer debt, high savings, high employment opportunities and high real personal disposable income. Real personal disposable income is the amount of income ultimately available to families for personal expenditures, savings and investments.

My roots in this happy Central Jersey region run deep. My German ancestors settled Hunterdon County in the early 1700s. They fought in the American Revolution and our family has had relatives in every war or conflict since the founding of our Great Nation. Ours is a beautiful area full of American history. The undeveloped areas are full of rolling hills, rivers, lakes, streams, horse country and old farmland. The developed areas offer excellent job opportunities, good transportation and other benefits for residents. Proximity to the City (NYC) and the Shore (pristine NJ white sand beaches) are two such benefits we enjoy.

The Happiness Trade-Off. What Does It Mean For Our San Diego Region?

Bubbles of soapThe conclusions of the UBC researchers are relevant for politicians and planners alike in our San Diego region. Some people may be willing to trade happiness for other gains. But those other gains are good job opportunities or lower housing prices.

Our San Diego region has limited job opportunities and high housing prices. As such, it’s not likely that we’ll attract young people unless we inject jobs into our region and limit development greed that prices young people out of the housing market. Offering better transportation services would attract more people to our region.

As I’ve long championed, extended Ferry Service around the San Diego Bay integrated with improved MTS bus service for Coronado would improve our regional economy. Coronado is important to the economy of our region because we have two of the three economic clusters of our San Diego region — U.S. military and tourism. The third cluster is located at and around UC San Diego in Hillcrest and La Jolla — academic research-medical technology.

Where the Happy People Live

Here are the happiest, and the unhappiest, areas of the USA according to the UBC happiness research:

Top 10 happiest metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million (as of 2010):
1. Richmond-Petersburg, VA
2. Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, VA
3. Washington, DC
4. Raleigh-Durham, NC
5. Atlanta, GA
6. Houston, TX
7. Jacksonville, FL
8. Nashville, TN
9. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, FL
10. Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ

U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest reported happiness:
1. Charlottesville, VA
2. Rochester, MN
3. Lafayette, LA
4. Naples, FL
5. Baton Rouge, LA
6. Flagstaff, AZ
7. Shreveport, LA
8. Houma, LA
9. Corpus Christi, TX
10. Provo, UT

Where the Unhappy People Live

Top 10 unhappiest metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million (as of 2010):
1. New York, NY
2. Pittsburgh, PA
3. Louisville, KY
4. Milwaukee, WI
5. Detroit, MI
6. Indianapolis, IN
7. St. Louis, MO
8. Las Vegas, NV
9. Buffalo, NY
10. Philadelphia, PA

The least happy American regions are:
1. Scranton, PA
2. St. Joseph, MO
3. Erie, PA
4. South Bend, IN
5. Jersey City, NJ
6. Johnstown, PA
7. Non-metropolitan West Virginia
8. Springfield, MA
9. New York, NY
10. Evansville-Henderson, IN-KY

To read more about the UBC study, read the 22 July 2014 article by clicking here. To receive the entire working paper “Unhappy Cities” for your review, order it online from the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research for a $5 email delivery fee by clicking here.

Copyright © 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.

Weak Response to California Drought Explained

Have government neglect and corporate greed led to California’s tepid response to our serious three-year drought?  In a word, yes.  

Why Aren’t We Doing Something Positive to Address the Drought?

In his 20 July 2014 article in entitled Why Has the Response to the California Drought Been so Weak?, Peter Gleick writes:

Water drops ripples and green leavesIn the past few weeks, I have had been asked the same question by reporters, friends, strangers, and even a colleague who posts regularly on this very ScienceBlogs site (the prolific and thoughtful Greg Laden): why, if the California drought is so bad, has the response been so tepid?

There is no single answer to this question (and of course, it presumes (1) that the drought is bad; and (2) the response has been tepid). In many ways, the response is as complicated as California’s water system itself, with widely and wildly diverse sources of water, uses of water, prices and water rights, demands, institutions, and more. But here are some overlapping and relevant answers.

First, is the drought actually very bad?

Even this question is complicated. If you look at the well-known Drought Monitor for California weekly maps, the answer is clearly “yes.” 80% of the state is in “extreme” to “extraordinary” drought and 100% of the state is in “severe” drought or worse. Other indicators also show the severity of the drought. This year will be one of the driest on record, as was 2013. Reservoirs are at record low levels. Deliveries of surface water to some farmers are lower than at any time in recent history. Streams are drying up and fisheries are being devastated.

Yet water still comes out of my tap, in unrestricted amounts and superb quality, at a reasonable price. And this is true of every resident in the state: drinking water supplies have not been affected, especially for the vast majority of the population that lives in cities of the San Francisco Bay area, Central Valley, and southern California.

While there will be some adverse impacts of some farmworkers and farmers, the overall agricultural sector will not have a bad year. Some farmworkers will be out of work this summer and fall, some farmers will be forced to fallow land because of the lack of water, and others will have higher costs associated with the need to replace surface water shortages with temporary groundwater pumping. But initial estimates from the University of California, Davis, the agricultural community as a whole will not see very large losses – a drop of perhaps 4% or so of normal farm revenue. It might be more; it might be much less. We won’t know until the end of the growing and harvest seasons.

In effect, despite our continuing water wars, the State of California’s economy has become largely insulated from the effects of short-term drought – even droughts of a few years. The agricultural sector, which consumes 80% or more of the water that humans use here, only produces $40 billion out of a total gross state product of over $2 trillion – 2 percent.

Has the response to the drought been tepid, and if so, why?

In January, Governor Brown declared a drought emergency. Terrific. That was the right thing to do. But it was not followed by any systematic statewide communications effort, any requirement for mandatory cutbacks, or any comprehensive information on how homeowners or businesses could save water. Other than an occasional billboard urging people to stop wasting water, or an occasional newspaper article about the drought, I have gotten little or no information from my water utility urging (or requiring) me to cut my water use, no detailed information telling me what I can do to save water, and no imposition of mandatory restrictions, except in a few small areas.

The Governor, at the same time, announced the availability of emergency funds of up to nearly $700 million for drought response. Yet now, half a year later and in the hottest, driest part of the year, a tiny fraction of that money has been spent, and very little on the most effective strategies for saving water: rapid and immediate conservation and efficiency programs to help farmers swap out inefficient irrigation technologies for modern efficient ones, or to get homeowners to permanently remove lawns or inefficient toilets, showerheads, and washing machines – to name just a few proven, cost-effective strategies.

Some water utilities don’t like to impose drought restrictions because they have still failed to meter 100% of their customers, so there is no way to measure or monitor demands for savings. Or they fear that conservation efforts simply cut revenues, which force them to raise rates to cover their operating expenses – an action that sours customers on further conservation efforts. (This does happen, but it is a failure of utilities to implement effective water rate structures that can encourage conservation while still satisfying revenue needs: see here for information on strategies to avoid this).

Some farmers have “senior water rights” and will get all or most of the water they need this year. These farmers have no incentive to conserve water or use it more efficiently – and the media and the public do not hear from them. Instead, the public only hears from junior water-rights holders who have posted highly visible signs along Highway 5 in the Central Valley decrying the “Congress created dust bowl” or other catchy phrases that try to place political blame for natural events. These actually come from a tiny part of California’s agricultural community who know that they cannot get all of the water they want (as junior water rights holders), even in normal water years, because the state has given away far more water than nature reliably provides.

These signs are common along Highway 5 in California’s Central Valley, especially where junior water-rights holders have land that won’t get water during droughts. Ironically, this one is placed right in front of a newly planted almond orchard.

These signs are common along Highway 5 in California’s Central Valley, especially where junior water-rights holders have land that won’t get water during droughts. Ironically, this one is placed right in front of a newly planted almond orchard.

So, for now, we muddle through with mostly voluntary exhortations to cut water use, some new mandatory penalties for egregious water wasters (though even these mandatory penalties will be largely unenforced and largely ineffective at reducing water waste), and a lot of wishful thinking that El Niño will bail us out next year.

That could happen. But it might not. If next year is also dry, the shit is going to start to hit the fan. Our reserves and marginal sources of water are gone or going. Our reliance on groundwater overdraft cannot continue without destroying aquifers and streams that depend on groundwater flow. The richest farmers and communities will begin to pay (as they are starting to now) premium prices to buy water from other farmers or to take advantage of loopholes that exempt groundwater from regulation, monitoring, and management, at the expense of poorer farmers and communities who cannot drill million-dollar wells. And more and more people will be at risk of waking up, turning on the tap, and getting nothing but air.

In short, the tepid response will turn into panic and pressure to take actions, even if those actions are inappropriate (like letting fisheries and ecosystems die) or could have been avoided had we done the smart things we should have done earlier.

For photos accompanying this article and the 15 July 2014 California drought graphic, click here.

© Copyright 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.