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California Coastal Commission - Burns them out again

Friday, May 8th, 2009

They have to burn, they will burn,” said Coast Commission spokeswoman Sarah Christie.

State rules protecting maritime chaparral place homeowner’s lives at risk

California Families who have long bristled at the immense authority of the California Coastal Commission, contend that state rules protecting maritime chaparral have placed homeowners at risk and exacerbated the fire danger.

Although the commission flatly rejects that assertion, ( of course they would)  SINS OF COMMISSION thinks not- as this 2008 interview reveals -

Chaparral thrives up and down the coast- from Southern California up to Mendocino County-and is what the fire department calls fuel beds for fires.

Problem is maritime chaparral is designated by California Coastal Commission as “environmentally sensitive habitat” and protected by law,theoretically because “it is susceptible to disturbance or degradation by human activities” -  but the State Fire Marshal is responsible for the public’s safety.

Who is in charge? The California Coastal Commission…. or the state Fire Marshal?

Did the California Coastal Commission say endangered? Sensitive? Susceptible to disturbance? we think not.

It is estimated the so called “sensitive” shrub blankets 1.3 million acres across the state, or more. Others, including an expert from the [California] State Department of Fish and Game and those who have analyzed the issue for the Coastal Commission - meaning paid to say, believe it is closer to 20,000 acres but that it may appear far more widespread because other varieties of plants are mixed in.

Whatever the acreage, California Coastal Families say the commission’s chaparral-protection rule blocks them from taking even basic precautions against wildfires, such as cutting a defensive perimeter around their homes, or from remodeling or expanding structures on their property.

( Source: Capitol Weekly)

The statement means that “people will have their land effectively condemned based upon the personal opinion of one person, the expert the county or commission requires them to hire to do a biological assessment of their property as part of the permit process.

The commission emphatically denies that its regulations contribute to the fire danger, and notes that the state generally defers to local fire agencies in emergencies on questions of local property protection. But many homeowners who were forced to evacuate and huddle with neighbors aren’t buying that at all: The chaparral, they believe, contributed to the lightning-sparked Big Sur fires, which …destroyed 20 homes and charred at least 72,000 acres.

The central message here for us is that the maritime chaparral, like the San Diego coast sage shrub, are not just fire-prone, they are fire-dependent. They have evolved over a millennium to require fire to regenerate. They have to burn, they will burn,” said Coast Commission spokeswoman Sarah Christie.

( Source: Capitol Weekly)

SINS OF COMMISSION vehemently disagrees, and firefighters like Mr. Franklin concur.

Are you burnt out from all of these fires? And the season is just beginning.

Tired of spending billions of YOUR dollars to fight fires that shouldn’t be in the first place?

Help us get the film out to the people, the media and the legislators.

Donate now through our fiscal sponsors the International Documentary Association a 501 c3 non profit foundation and receive a tax deduction .

Save California.  Save the Coast.  Save your homes.

Of Mice and Men

Monday, March 16th, 2009


I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads . . . every damn one of ‘em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ‘em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’.

I read plenty of books out here.

Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land.

 

 

- John Steinbek, “Of Mice and Men”

 

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger started a campaign last Thursday to drum up voter support for a series of budget-related propositions he wants to pass in May.

Schwarzenegger also threw his support behind efforts to hold a constitutional convention, an idea which is showing some signs of support around California. The Bay Area Council, a business-backed policy group headquartered in San Francisco, is spearheading efforts to hold a convention to redo parts of the state’s basic framework.

“I think eventually the state of California needs to look at a constitutional convention,” Schwarzenegger said during a question-and-answer session following his speech. “There’s things that ought to be looked at and debated.”

The governor did not specify which areas of the state constitution were most in need of change.

(Source: San Francisco Business Times)

Don’t know about you, but I get very concerned when any govenor decides he “needs to look at a constitutional convention,” especially when a self-interest group of any stripe is leading the charge… because you know who gets clobbered in the end - WE do!

Tinkering is what you do with a clock or a motor….a radio, guitar, maybe even a computer - not a constitution!  

But I do agree with the govenor’s observation - something is rotten in the state of California.

Michael Chrichton, of Jurassic Park fame, gave a speech at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2003 - the same place the govenor gave his last week.

Mr. Chrichton brought up many worthy points then, that ring true for our time.

We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we’re told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems.

-Michael Crichton 

We don’t have to tinker with anything constitutional in order to take a good hard look at what is working - and what is not.  It’s kinda easy given this last budget fiasco…I don’t think there’s a whole lot of things working in the State of California.

Amendments aren’t necessary to get the Coastal Commission to work better.  For the last 30 years, the Triple-C has been the state’s poster boy for unfettered government run amok. We need to stop that. This is no time for anything in California to be running amok.

Could Peter Douglas, Executive-Director-for-life of the California Coastal Commission be using the commission to advance his personal agenda or is he just the towel-boy for some very wealthy people and some powerful corporations…yes, wealthy people and powerful corporations. (501 c3 Non-profits are corporations.) 

Whose agenda is Pete and the boys really advancing under the guise of environmental protection? Non-for-profit and for profit corporations might be dropping millions of dollars on the Triple C and we’d never know who they are because it is a secret.  They don’t have to tell. By law. California law.

The same law that allows the commission to initiate an appeal of a coastal development permit with the action of any two members of the commission. California State Sen. Denise Ducheny, of San Diego, introduced Senate Bill 1295 Februray 19, 2008 to try and restore fairness to the commission.

It just doesn’t seem right that the people who make the appeal also decide the appeal,”

-Sen. Denise Ducheny

(Source:  North County Times, March 13, 2008)

Predictably, SB 1295 was defeated.

How come the names of all individuals and corporations who contribute to the CCC are not public information?  I’d sure like to know who is pulling their strings, and the public ought to know too. Everyone who makes a contribution for federal political means are reported on the web. Why not here too? 

OK, mistakes happen. BUT, let’s look real carefully at the money flow into the commission and the data that comes out.  The commission uses this data, however it wants to and for whatever purpose it dreams up - and refuses to acknowledge anything contrary to its’ own findings. 

If the data is manipulated who whould know? And what ever they present in court…the courts back them up…so truthful and accurate data is critical for all parties, not just to be used as a means to an end.

 

Where does the data come from? Their own sources - or - Independent, outside experts? Where is the oath that accompanies the data that they submit that says the information is deemed correct under penalty of perjury?  Those three words alone are gonna clean up some stuff PDQ because now the so-called experts will be legally bound to tell the truth. 

And, while we’re on the subject of truth, who protects the people from the meglo-maniacal commission? No, not the A.G. The Attorney General is too busy covering the CCC’s butt. Who is watching out for Jane & John Q. Public to be sure their rights are protected?

I want it perfectly clear that I believe it is incumbent on us to conduct our lives in a way that takes into account all the consequences of our actions, including the consequences to other people, and the consequences to the environment.  

-Michael Crichton 

How much of the state’s budget does the CCC spend on lawsuits in a year?  In a decade? Over 3 decades?

I bet that number equals the cost of one if not more of these super-duper-tankers we (the people)  lease each year to drop tons of retardant on flaming brush as a result of the coastal commission’s (and other agencies) prohibition from allowing modification of the vegetation?

Once it dawns on folks that if we modify the vegetation, fires won’t be as gigantic, do you think they’ll be pissed?

How many billions did last years fire’s cost? What % of budget was that? I’m not saying get a lawnmower - but I am suggesting we need to do something - RIGHT NOW!

In 90 to 120 days from right now fire season starts.

What new techniques are in place since the last round of catastrophic fires, that cost the state billions of dollars, and helped drive us into the financial toilet?    

Speaking of toilets… 

I heard there is a movement in the Santa Monica Mountains to allow overnight camping in a zone the fire department calls “extremely hazardous”.  Bad idea, no?

I thought we are trying to prevent fires…not start them. They have a lot of money behind them…they’ll probably get their way. Burn the people out who live there, huh?

While we’re doing our fact-finding, let’s not miss an opportunity to look at the California Conservancy and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

The reason I ask is back in 2004, there was a big brouhaha…do you remember?

The Office of State Audits and Evaluations, which examined the conservancy’s spending through June 2003, accused the conservancy of applying $4.2 million in bond money toward planning, education and facilities renovations instead of using it for parkland purchases. The conservancy charged for operating expenses such as phones, cellular phones, Internet service, access pagers, postage, conferences, vehicle costs and other items as direct grant expenses); and using more than $1 million in bond money to pay for legal fees. The audit questioned possible double billing as well.

According to a written response to the audit from Michael Berger, chairman of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, the conservancy’s land-management arm, “(The MRCA governing board) recognizes that constant improvement is essential to being an effective and responsive instrument for the people we serve.

(Source: The Acorn)

How they doing? Any better?

We honestly appreciate the efforts of the Office of State Audits and Evaluations, and where they have been constructive in their criticisms, such recommendations have—in conjunction with our own internal review—led to the changes in organizational structure and procedures.

(Source: The Acorn)

Honestly appreciate?  The state audit also criticized the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy for its relationship with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority…. That was no compliment.

How is that going?

There’s the appearance that the conservancy is, in effect, awarding grants to itself, and that the authority’s project managers are monitoring themselves.

(Source: The Acorn)

Perhaps, at the same time we can also look into why previous attempts to restore balance into the CCC have fallen flat? I don’t bet, but if I did, I’d say that it probably has something to do with PAC money.

Why, why, why? So many whys.

In his later years, Mr. Crichton turned his attention towards public policy and became extremely skeptical of archly ideological environmentalism. In the speech he delivered at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club in 2003, he argued that environmentalism is essentially a religion, a belief system based on faith, not fact. (Check out his site: http://www.crichton-official.com/speech-environmentalismaseligion.html)

Is the environmental debate today, including global warming, and other issues, based on science or politics?  Are government policies wasting limited resources, crippling human rights and addressing true dangers - or inviting tyranny?

“The lawyers made a very strong point,” [Joe] Edmiston said, and you don’t need a lawyer to point this out—we don’t wake up in the morning, throw a dart at the map of the Santa Monica Mountains and say, ‘Okay, where the dart landed, that’s the property that we’re going to try and acquire.’ There’s a full planning process that goes into that.” 

(Source: The Acorn)

Planning, I bet there is…. 

 

California Coastal Commission to allow overnight camping in Extreme Fire Hazard Zones?

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Roasting Marshmallows

Roasting Marshmallows sure is fun!

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is proposing to install new overnight campgrounds in three of this area’s most delicate canyons: Ramirez, Escondido and Corral.

These three canyons are in areas classified by the state as “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones.”

(Source: WestsideToday.com, February 13, 2009)

Is anyone else alarmed or thinking, “Gee, this sounds like is a really, really bad idea?” Just so supporters of the CCC or the SMMC can roast marshmallows? Wow.

SINS OF COMMISSION provides exclusive information that delves into policies like this and discovered agencies like the California Coastal Commission actually perpetuate these wild fires because they refuse fuel modification in public land under their charge. Then when a really big, catastrophic fire blows through, they rock on their heels and whistle.

Wind's really kicking in... pass me another marshmallow!

This is not about Saving the Coast, Beach Access or people’s rights to hike on trails, the worthiness of trails or public vs. private property, Republicans v. Democrats, Liberals v. Conservatives, Left v. Right. etc.  It is about public safety - meaning all of us -plain and simple.

Are our collective memories short or what?

The Corral fire, the most destructive fire in the city of Malibu in nearly 15 years burned 4,700 acres consumed 49 homes and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents. About 1,750 firefighters, at least 45 fire engines, numerous hand crews, 23 water-dropping helicopters and two fixed-wing planes battled the blaze.

(Source LA Times November 27, 2007)

I sure hope someone, Governor Schwarzenegger, in charge of protecting public safety, Governor Schwarzenegger, is reading this blog in Sacramento, Governor Schwarzenegger, and people in Australia too.

Yes, of course, every lobbyist and politician loves eco-dollars and wants to be seen as a friend of the environment, but what will you say to a fire fighter’s widow… especially when a fire could have been prevented?

Last year’s Corral Canyon fire and the recent fire in Montecito destroyed hundreds of homes and threatened thousand of lives.  And, these fires had two things in common: They were caused by people who did not completely extinguish their fires; and the millions of dollars spent to fight the fires were paid for by the taxpayers.

(Source: WestsideToday.com, February 13, 2009)

The Malibu City Council decided that allowing camping and intensive public uses in high fire areas created too great a risk to visitors and neighbors.

That decision has been opposed by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

Is it any surprise our tax base is disappearing? Hey, where is everyone going? Last one out of the state, please close the door.

Can folks in Australia roast marshmallows in the middle of their hazardous flammable brush zones? If you can, please you guys… don’t.

Feeling burnt?

Help us spread the word.

SINS OF COMMISSION needs your help. We desperately need funds to finish the film. Please donate now though our fiscal sponsor, The International Documentary Association, a 501 c3 non profit organization, and receive a tax deduction from Uncle Sam or at least an I.O.U.



 
 
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