Once again Councilman Ed Gallo has managed to irritate me. More so because his comments elicited applause from the considerable audience. I realized it was the same sort of irritation whenever I hear the ignoramus Donald Trump speak. Gallo, like Trump, made an argument that appealed to low information voters, and fired up their antipathy to government regulation.
The audience was full, because the neighbors of the proposed water facility I wrote about last week: https://ablueviewescondido.com/2016/05/18/another-property-rights-dilemma-for-abed/ were back in greater force. Now, when that item: APPEAL OF PLANNING COMMISSION DECISION TO DENY A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT was considered it was continued for further study. The neighbors, encouraged by their leader Diane Belnap stayed. This continuation was not a surprise, J. Harry Jones reported on it a few days ago: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/may/20/escondido-water-plant-residents-angry/ . Many neighbors did stay, and had their say under oral communications at the end of the meeting, which is fodder for another blog.
My irritation with Gallo came in the discussion of item 17: FINDINGS OF THE HYDRAULIC STUDY OF THE CITY. This was a report from City Staff, headed by the city’s Environmental Programs Manager, Helen Davies. On May 20, 2015, the Council had approved the preparation of such a study to identify possible alternative compliance project locations. That is, alternative compliance with the current storm water runoff municipal permit. Michael Baker, of Michael Baker International who had been hired by the city to perform the study, assisted Davies in her presentation. If you’re of the geek persuasion, you can read the entire study at: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/may/20/escondido-water-plant-residents-angry/
I have written about the Council antipathy to this regulation of storm water runoff regulations: https://ablueviewescondido.com/2015/03/12/invective-and-ignorance/ and https://ablueviewescondido.com/2015/05/12/invective-part-ii/
Councilwoman Olga Diaz asked several questions, first clarifying that alternative compliance was only permissible if on-site compliance was not possible. Baker informed her that yes, that was correct, but the bar for not being able to comply was not very high, due to the nature of the geographic formations in the area. She asked Davies to clarify several issues about the cost of the alternative compliance proposals, and whether or not the compliance had to be in Escondido or could it be in the total watershed area. Davies cleared up the financial questions, and noted that, yes, the alternative projects could be in the entire watershed, but that they would focus on projects in Escondido. Davies admitted that this alternative compliance issue was in the early stages, and it would be awhile (years) before it could be implemented.
Councilman John Masson asked some engineering questions, and was given what seemed to be satisfactory answers.
Then it was Gallo’s turn. He “was not going to be technical” he said—as if he had the capacity to be so. Okay, he said, we’re going to add the cost of improving storm water runoff to the cost of housing with these requirements, but out of the other side of our mouths we talk about the lack of affordable housing. What’s the purpose of all this he asked Davies. She replied that it was to decrease the pollutant load in the runoff, and to reduce the volume of runoff to historical levels. Then Gallo in his inimitable idiotic manner went into a rant about why Escondido had built the cement storm drain through Escondido (because Escondido Creek had flooded the town in the 1950’s). He went on to bemoan the fact that it had taken years to get permit from the state to remove weeds from the storm drain, and now, one of the proposals was to get rid of the cement so plants could grow. What are we doing he questioned. The audience applauded. Well this was the man who once derided the efforts to reduce the pollution of storm drains with the insightful comment that “fish poop in the ocean.”
Well he won’t pay any attention to what I have to say, but what we are doing is trying to prevent the ocean from becoming any more polluted. The storm drains that were built in the last century in Escondido, and Los Angeles, and many other cities in California, were well-intentioned efforts to prevent further flooding. All well and good, except for the usual unintended consequences. Consequences like the runoff from pavement loaded with oil sediments, fertilizer sediments, insecticide sediments, and other pollutants from people’s lawns, driveways, city streets, etc. Runoff that had no intervening plant life or porous soil to purify or increase the aquafers below. What Davies had proposed, well explained (to no avail with Gallo, evidently) was that there might be a possibility to remove cement from the Escondido Creek channel and let plants grow—adding that it would be necessary to allow for the increase in volume that the current storm drain could withstand.
Then Councilman Mike Morasco asked why Reidy Creek wasn’t included in the possible sites for storm runoff remediation. Sigh. I really do respect Morasco. I believe he is a good person. But honestly? The whole purpose of the Reidy Creek Golf Course was for storm runoff remediation. Wrote about this: https://ablueviewescondido.com/2016/04/05/beware-of-developers-bearing-gifts-of-golf-courses/
Then it was Abed’s turn to blame everything on the State of California’s regulations. He even went so far as to complaining about how much it had cost him to pave over his lot in town for a parking lot. No mention of the fact that he had done so without permit, or that some of his cost was the fees he had to pay for ignoring his city’s rules.