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September 2009 Santa Lucian Newsletter


Santa Lucian • September 2009

                                                                                                                                                   Protecting and
                                                                                                                                                   Preserving the
                                                                                                                                                   Central Coast

                                           The official newsletter of the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club • San Luis Obispo County, California

     September 2009
     Volume 46 No. 8                       Old Nukes? Whoa, Nukes!
                                           by the Alliance for Nuclear                   The NRC scheduled the only                For the past five years, California
                                           Responsibility                              California hearing in West Lake -- 113   has been conducting its own review of
                                                                                       miles north of the San Onofre Nuclear    the economic impacts of reliance on
                                           This month, the Nuclear Regulatory          Generating Station, 155 miles south      aging reactors. With constant
Localizing power                      3    Commission will hold a public               of Diablo Canyon, and 394 miles from     encouragement and input from the
                                           hearing on the criteria in Generic          oversight agencies and affected legis-   Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility,
                                           Environmental Impact Statements for         lators in San Francisco and Sacra-       the California Energy Commission
Support your local coast             6     proposed reactor license renewals.          mento. The hearing will be held          and local, federal and state represen-
                                             The NRC has already approved              September 22. Demand NRC hearings        tatives continue to request and review
                                           license renewals for 54 reactors at 29      on environmental impacts of license      information that is vital to under-
Do we have a sewer?                   7    sites without updated criteria. These       renewal beheld near San Onofre and       standing the economic and reliability
                                           aging reactors were licensed to             Diablo Canyon. Contact Senator           impacts of the state’s dependence on
Solar v. gas                         9     operate an additional twenty years          Boxer:          aging reactors. The Alliance also
                                           without a current assessment of the         contact/email/policy.cfm. More           remains in contact with the office of
                                           environmental impacts associated            information can be found at
About that oil vote                  9     with license renewals.                                                               continued on page 6

Classifieds                         11

Outings                             12
                                           A New Day Dawns
                                           for Graywater
                                           Appropriate Technology Coalition publishes
      Upcoming Events                      San Luis Obispo Guide

                                           A two-year effort by the Appropriate Technology
                                           Coalition – SLO Green Build, the San Luis Bay
Sept. 12:                                  Chapter of Surfrider and the Santa Lucia
                                           Chapter of the Sierra Club – has brought forth
Photography work-                          the SLO Guide to the Use of Graywater, the first-
shop: The New Nature                       ever guide to installing graywater systems in the
                         - page 9          county.
                                              Graywater comprises up to 80% of residential
Sept. 23:                                  wastewater. Increased demand for water and
                                           pollution of the water table has adversely
Transition Towns                           affected once-balanced ecosystems and made
                         - page 2          water an increasingly valuable natural resource.
                                           Clean potable water is the most valuable type of
Oct. 24:                                   water, but graywater can be extremely useful and
Carrotmob!                                 should not be considered a waste product but a
                         - page 3
                                           valuable resource that can be applied to irriga-
                                           tion and other non-potable water uses. Harvest-
                                           ing graywater to meet your non-potable water
                                           demand utilizes an appropriate technology that
                                           can recover initial costs quickly.
                                           The potential ecological benefits of greywater
                                           recycling include:
                                           * Lower fresh water extraction from rivers and
                                           * Less impact from septic tank and treatment
                                                                                                                                California Approves
                 Please recycle            plant infrastructure
                                           * Topsoil nutrification                                                              New Graywater
                                           * Reduced energy use and chemical pollution from treatment
                                           * Groundwater recharge
                                           * Plant growth
        This newsletter printed on           The added benefits to our watershed and community infrastructure make              By Art Ludwig
  100% post-consumer recycled paper with   having a graywater system an environmentally friendly solution to scarce water
              soy-based inks               supplies since more than half of your indoor water can be reused as graywater.
                                           Now is the time to tap in!                                                        As of August 4th, 2009, Californians
                                              The Guide should be available from most municipalities in the county by the    could legally install simple laundry
                                                                                                                             and single fixture graywater systems
                                                                                       end of this month at $10 a copy.
                                                                                                                             without a permit. For the first time,
                                                                                                                             licensed professionals can legally help
                                                                                        TAKE ACTION
                                                                                                                             with the 1.7 million existing
                                                                                                                             graywater systems in the state.
                                                                                        Mikel Robertson, owner of Green
                                                                                                                               A collision of world views was in full
                                                                                        Goods, will give a free presentation
                                                                                                                             evidence at the July 31 California
                                                                                        on graywater on September 19 at
     CA 93401                                                                                                                Building Standards Commission
                                                                                        3071 South Higuera, SLO. For more
  SAN LUIS OBISPO                                                                                                            hearing on the proposed new
                                                                                        information, go to
   PERMIT NO. 84                              San Luis Obispo, CA 93406
                                                                                                                             graywater standards. Highly qualified
                                                                                                                             stakeholders spoke passionately for
        PAID                                  P. O. Box 15755
   U.S. POSTAGE                               Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club
  NONPROFIT ORG.                                                     Santa Lucian
                                                                                                                                                      continued on page 11
                                                                                                                              Santa September
                                                                                                                        Santa Lucian • Lucian 2009

                                                       General Meeting                                                              Andrew Christie
                                                                                                                                  Karen Merriam

                                                                                                                                  Melody DeMeritt

                                                        Transition Towns
                                                                                                                                  Jack McCurdy
                                                                                                                                  EDITORIAL BOARD
                                                                                                                                  The Santa Lucian is published 10 times a
                                                                                                                                  year. Articles, environmental information
                                                                                                                                  and letters to the editor are welcome. The
                                              7 p.m. Wednesday, September 23rd                                                    deadline for each issue is the 11th of the
                                              Steynberg Gallery, 1531 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo                               prior month.
                                                                                                                                  send to:
                                              “Transition Towns” swam across the pond from England and has taken
                                                                                                                                  Editor, Santa Lucian
                                             root in the fertile ground of San Luis Obispo County, looking to address             c/o Santa Lucia Chapter, Sierra Club
                                             the three toughest challenges of our time— peak oil, economic instabil-              P.O. Box 15755
                                             ity and climate change -- by rebuilding community resilience and self-               San Luis Obispo, CA 93406.
                                             reliance. Join us for our September program when Transition Towns          
                                             activists make a Powerpoint presentation and share their experience
                                             organizing local initiatives in North County, South County, the coastal              Santa Lucia Chapter
                                             communities, and the City of San Luis Obispo.                                        2009 Executive Committee
                                                                                                                                  Karen Merriam
                                             Invite your friends/social network to the program at 7 or come early and              CHAIR    
                                             enjoy the Steynberg Gallery’s great selection of drinks and pastries and             Cal French
                                             its always fascinating exhibition of local artwork.                                   MEMBER
                                                                                                                                  Mark Shefrin    
                                             For more information, call 772-1875.                                                 Dawn Ortiz-Legg
                                                                                                                                  Steven Marx
                                                                                                                                  Melody DeMeritt
                                                                                                                                   VICE CHAIR
                                                                                                                                  Linda Seeley

                                           At the Circus

                                                                                                                                  Cal French
                                                                                                                                  COUNCIL OF CLUB LEADERS

                                           Once these stories get out there, they’re hard to stamp out because our media              The Executive Committee meets
                                           do such a lousy job of speaking truth to stupid.                                           the third Friday of every month at
                                                                                                    - Bill Maher, L.A. Times          12:00 p.m. at the chapter office,
                                                                                                                                      located at 547-B Marsh St., San
                                                                                                              July 31, 2009           Luis Obispo. All members are
                                                                                                                                      welcome to attend.
                                           In this summer of “birthers” and          pacts. One company rep made this
                                           “death panels,” Danny Schechter of        demand to assure smooth sailing for
                                           Mediachannel commented that the           her project even as the rep for
                                           birther movement, for all its looni-      another company told the Commis-
                                           ness, is succeeding in making the         sion that their power plant would            Committee Chairs
                                           legitimacy of Barak Obama’s presi-        have “no impacts” on endangered              Political
                                                                                     species. For suggesting policy                Chuck Tribbey
                                           dency into a widespread topic of                                                       Conservation
                                    2500                                             language that would actually hold
                                           discussion. “Our adversaries are                                                         Sue Harvey
                                           chanting ‘We Shall Overthrow’,” he        that company to its confident promise        Membership
                                           wrote. “Sensing possible victory —        and require such impacts to be                 Cal French
                                                                                     avoided or mitigated, Planning               Litigation
                                           whatever that means — the angeroid                                                       Andy Greensfelder
                                           microfactions that lost the election      Commission Chair Christie was
                                                                                                                                  Nuclear Power Task Force
                                           are now seeking to polarize the public    roundly pilloried.                            Rochelle Becker
                                           to topple the Administration with an        And when a common-sense revision
                                           electronic coup d’media.” He noted        of the Ag Events ordinance came to
                                           that we need to “realize that all         the Planning Commission, yet                 Other Leaders
                                           politics does not occur in DC.”           another passel of special interests
                                             Quite a lot of politics happened in     descended, loudly advocating for the         Open Space
                                           SLO over the summer. Most of it           County’s current laissez-faire ap-            Gary Felsman            805-473-3694
                                                                                     proach, which will eventually turn           Calendar Sales
 Change of Address?                        happened when two special interest
                                           groups became overwrought over the        agricultural lands into commercial
                                                                                                                                   Bonnie Walters
                                                                                                                                  Chapter History

                                           outcomes of two county grand jury         zones under an avalanche of unsus-            John Ashbaugh           805-541-6430
    Mail changes to:                                                                 tainable non-ag related events of vast
                                           investigations — in the first instance
                                           because the grand jury found evi-         size and numbers. Another Sierra             Activities
     Sierra Club National Headquarters
                                           dence of wrongdoing, and in the           Club conspiracy was alleged. The             Outings
     85 Second Street, 2nd Floor                                                                                                  Joe Morris
     San Francisco, CA 94105-3441          second instance because it did not. If    whipped-up crowd demanded Com-
    or e-mail:                             you missed all the excitement, see        missioner Anne Wyatt recuse herself           open        this issue’s “Taking Issue” feature on    due to “bias” and “conflict of interest”
                                           page 5 for a recap and a reprinting of    because she runs a bed & breakfast.          Webmaster
                                           our Chapter Chair’s Tribune View-         They continued to make that demand            Monica Tarzier
                                           point summing up the situation.           after the Fair Political Practices
                                             But the crude politics of those         Committee ruled that she had no              Chapter Director
                                           attacking the grand jury reports --       conflict.                                    Andrew Christie
                                           who made up stories about crimes            In such strategies, facts and evi-
                                           and conspiracies in order to defame       dence are never the point. Stirring
                                           their foes and advance their agenda --    the pot and getting your way is the          Coordinator

Visit us on                                was just one flavor of political          point – especially when a pro-                 Kim Ramos, Admin and Development
                                                                                     development majority has been voted               
                                           pressure, one very much in vogue

the Web!
                                           right now, as noted above by Mr.          off the Board of Supervisors and an
                                           Maher and Mr. Schechter.                  environmentally sane board has been
                                             The more refined variety of pressure    voted in. As health insurance compa-
                                           politics was on view when the             nies and the American Petroleum
                                           multiple solar power companies            Institute have done nationally, local
                                           lobbying for utility-scale power plants   lobby shops can generate whisper
                                           on the Carrizo Plain leaned heavily on    campaigns and political operatives
                                           the Planning Commission to make           create “grass roots” groups (aka
w w w. s a n t a l u c i a .               sure the County’s update of its
                                           Conservation and Open Space
                                                                                     “astroturf”), which then concoct a
                                                                                     frenzy over the specter of higher
                                                                                                                                  General Information
                                                                                                                                  Santa Lucia Chapter                             Element – the guiding document for        prices, raised taxes, and/or loss of
                                           all future land and resource decisions    livelihoods if the targeted constitu-        P.O. Box 15755
                                           in the county – would include, in         ency doesn’t turn out in large               San Luis Obispo, CA 93406
                                           about half a dozen different places,      numbers to oppose the targeted
                                           language assuring that permits for        measure and maintain the status quo.         Office hours Monday-Friday,
                                           utility-scale alternative energy            The strategy is to put pressure on         11 a.m.- 5 p.m., 547-B Marsh
                                           facilities will be issued even if their   elected officials who normally should        Street, San Luis Obispo
    Outings, events, and more!             proposed design, size or location is      know better than to vote in favor of
                                           found to cause severe and                                                                Printed by University Graphic Systems
                                           unmitigatable environmental im-                                 continued on page 10
Santa Lucian • September 2009

Localize It
When it comes to the future of clean
energy in SLO, there’s one thing the
County needs to do above all else.
  In the course of a 15 minute
Powerpoint presentation at the Board
of Supervisors on July 21, Sierra Club
interns Chad Worth and Nancy Cole
summed up what the Santa Lucia
Chapter found over the course of four
energy town halls that we conducted
across the county over the last six
months, attended by hundreds of
local residents: When it came to
energy generation, “Localize” was a
main theme that emerged.                   Nancy Cole and Chad Worth make their Powerpoint to the Board of Supervisors.
  Town hall participants told us of the
“need to look in before looking out,”
said Worth. “House by house, block
by block, neighborhood by neighbor-
hood… It was very much ‘let’s to it
here, do it in our back yard, do it our
way.’ That speaks for an overall theme
of keeping it locally distributed.”
  For our last town hall in June, we
brought down Dave Erickson, senior
carbon analyst for Local Power Inc., a
bay area energy consulting firm. As
the name of his company implies,
Erickson is a specialist in local power,
a model which his company helps
local governments to implement as
they navigate the legal, logistical and
financial challenges to creating
renewable energy projects. His
company led San Francisco’s
CleanPowerSF program, the largest
local green energy project in the
world, has written implementation
plans for city and regional govern-
ments, and created the first renewable
energy financing authority in the U.S.
  Erickson talked about the Sonoma
Climate Action Plan, on which he
served as technical director and which
mandates that the County and its
municipalities initiate a Community
Choice program -- as SLO County’s
Conservation and Open Space
Element (COSE) update recommends
-- and exercise local control in
choosing their own energy provider
and service rates while increasing the                       FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT 350.ORG
amount of renewable energy they use.
  Erickson emphasized the benefits
Sonoma has found in Distributed
Generation over traditional depen-
dency on a few remote, centralized
sources of energy – i.e. large power
plants. In a Distributed Generation
scenario, power is generated from
multiple smaller scale sources and
used locally. A distributed generation
plan can be funded on the public
power model, which levelizes costs,
and in which rates are 15 to 20
percent lower than with investor-
owned utilities.
  “From the supply standpoint, it’s a
slam dunk,” Erickson said. The end
result of full implementation of a
localized power plan is 100 percent
energy self sufficiency for the county.
“Sonoma could just as easily have
called our Climate Action Plan a jobs
plan,” he said “or a green economic
recovery plan, or an energy indepen-
dence plan. We’re using Community
Choice to achieve the nation’s most           King Coal’s
                                              Judgment Day
ambitious greenhouse gas reduction.
It’s essentially a public works project
to meet the goal of reducing green-
house gas emissions 25 percent below          This month, join the
1990 levels by 2015.”
   That’s what distributed generation
                                              Sierra Club in a
is. And that’s what you can do when           national day of action
you put policies in place that favor          on coal. Stay updated
and encourage it.
   For the last six months, the
                                              and get in on our
residents of this county have been            online petition at
telling us that this is the energy  
future they want. Our County Super-           bigpicture
visors have the opportuntiy to give it
to them.
                                                                                                                          Santa Lucian • September 2009

How to Handle a Bus Strike
Transit users between rock, hard place
                                                                                                                  Local Food for
By Eric Greening                                                                                                  Thought
At the time I write this, it is impos-    the attainment of the objectives                                         “Pallet to       non-profit before he started opening
sible to know the outcome of the          would move significantly in the                                          Palate,” the     sustainable, socially responsible
current melodrama on the Regional         direction of fairness.                                                   annual SLO       restaurants, urged the audience to
Transit Authority system that con-            2. These objectives, and the case for                                celebration      “think systemically” and emphatically
nects Central Coast communities           why current circumstances are unfair,                                    of the           answered the “lifestyle vs. democracy”
from Santa Maria to San Miguel.           are disseminated in writing to the                                       benefits of      question:
  A strike vote by drivers and bus        RTA Board and the affected commu-                                        buying and         “The stuff we have to buy, like
washers was held on July 30th, and        nity, including riders.                                                  eating fresh     education and health care — unlike
the motion to strike passed, but as of        3. All attempts to resolve the issue                                 local food,      countries where you don’t have to pay
August 9th, the strike had not yet        by negotiation have been tried in                                        featured gala    for those – is what determines what
begun and it may or may not at some       good faith, including recourse to the                                    dinners, a       money is left over and what’s afford-
time in the future.                       governing board of the RTA.                                              party and        able for your food,” he said.
  The action is being taken by the Team-      4. The effective date of the strike is                               auction, and       Local farmers pressed the issue of
sters, and there is controversy over no sooner than the day after the                                              farmer’s         how we can get actual, sustainable
whether they                              Board meeting at which this last             market cooking demos throughout              food systems in place and how small
are currently                                                  recourse is at-         the month of August, and also                farmers can pay and get paid a living
recognized or if Those of us who are                           tempted, to allow       featured a barn-burner of a panel            wage when their operations “run
they are the not part of the single- for this resolution                               discussion, “Let’s Be Frank...About          between the red and the black 99
current choice
of the employ-
                     occupant vehicle                          and to allow riders
                                                               to attend this Board
                                                                                       Local Food,” at the Cliffs Resort on
                                                                                       August 16.
                                                                                                                                    percent of the time.”
                                                                                                                                      Redmond identified the problem as
ees. Some            habit that is destabi- meeting.                                     At $5 a head, including grass-fed          the absence of “infrastructure,
drivers are          lizing our climate are                      At present, none      pastured beef and pastured turkey hot        incentives and efficiencies,” which
declining to         offered nothing.                          of the four criteria    dogs and salad, it was a bargain by any      “just aren’t there” for small farmers,
renew their                                                    have been met. If       measure, but the panelists were more         unlike what Big Ag has managed to
Teamsters membership and seeking          they were, I would like to believe that      than worth the price of admission.           secure for itself via a steady stream of
other representation: Amalgamated         “choice” riders (those with cars at            The panel, moderated by Cal Poly’s         federal farm bills and subsidies. The
Transit Union or a County Bargaining their disposal who use the bus for                Neal MacDougall, Director of the             conversation turned to the Food
Group.                                    economic or environmental reasons)           Sustainable Agriculture Resource             Safety bill, cunningly devised to point
  Things are in a huge state of flux,     would confer with the car-free and           Consortium (SARC), featured Larry            at small farms as the source of food-
and this is very distressing to the       offer rides during the strike—that the       Bain, a restaurant entrepreneur and          related illness outbreaks while
riders, especially those who don’t        diverse rolling community of bus             co-founder of Let’s Be Frank, which          shielding big growers and processors
drive or own cars, and who utterly        users would come together in support         sells those aforementioned grass-fed         from its onerous requirements despite
rely on transit for access to work,       of the people who get them safely to         beef etc. hot dogs via street cart           the fact that more than 90% of food-
health care, and other necessities.       their destinations.                          vendors; Bradley Ogden, James Beard          borne illnesses trace back to feed-lot
  The Regional Transit Authority             I do believe that the drivers are         Award-winner for Best Chef of                cattle and heavily processed veg-
carries 2000 riders on an average         intrinsically deserving of support; it is    California and the creator of the            etables spreading disease through the
weekday. Since most of these are          shameful that while people with              award-winning Root 246 restaurant in         centralized, industrialized food
making round trips, the number of         polluting vehicles are rewarded with         Solvang’s Hotel Corque; and Judith           system.
actual people is probably closer to       up to $4500 for replacing them with          Redmond of Full Belly Farm, a 250-             “It’s the lobbyists writing the rules,
1000, but still is a substantial rolling  somewhat less-polluting vehicles,            acre organic farm in Yolo County, and        not the politicians,” Redmond pointed
community, comparable in popula-          those of us who are not part of the          a family farming advocate who serves         out, and Big Ag’s megaphone drowns
tion to Santa Margarita, San Miguel,      single-occupant vehicle habit that is        on the advisory boards of the UC             out small farms. “We don’t have an
or Shandon. If you can imagine one of destabilizing our climate are offered            Agricultural Sustainability Institute        organized voice,” she said. “We need
those communities being quaran-           nothing. Not that I personally would         and the Sustainable Agriculture              to help build the organizations out
tined, with nobody getting in or out,     seek a check for $4500, subsidized by        Resource Consortium at Cal Poly.             there that could tell our story in DC
that gives you an idea of the scale of    the young people being pushed even             The panelists addressed the ques-          and Sacramento.”
the impact.                               deeper into debt, but adding $4500 to        tion: How do we make local food,               “You need to get politically active,”
  In the event of a strike, there might   the pay of our bus drivers would move        affordable food, healthy food and            Bain agreed. “Voting with your fork
still be buses moving now and then,       them meaningfully closer to the              great food synonymous? Is this a             works up to a point, but you need to
driven by non-teamsters, and a moral      middle-class lives they deserve as           “lifestyle” issue or a “democracy”           vote with your vote.”
dilemma transit riders would face         much as anyone.                              issue?
would be whether to put their lives on       Somehow, however, this doesn’t get          Redmond opined that “the best way          TAKE ACTION
hold to avoid an action tantamount to the attention of Congress or the                 to get affordable, healthy food is to        Knowledge is power and in network-
crossing a picket line. It would          Administration; transit operating            encourage people to get food that            ing there is strength. Here are three
certainly go against my own grain to      funding was almost entirely left out of      comes fresh from the farm and learn          good ways to start doing more for
patronize “scabs,” and any worthwhile the “stimulus” package, and “cash for            how to cook it at home.” Chef Ogden          healthy local food, small farmers and
strike would need the support of the      clunkers” operates on the logic of the       asserted that it is ultimately cheaper       sustainable food systems: Get in touch
public to deprive management of           protection racket (“You want me to           to buy from a farmer’s market than a         with the Environmental Working
farebox revenue until they address the stop polluting, pay up!”)                       supermarket because you tend to buy          Group ( and
real needs of underpaid employees.           So, dear reader, if the real, day-to-     in smaller quantities in the former          join the Changemaker’s Network at
  And the drivers are underpaid; they     day lives of our transit riders and          than at the latter.                          Roots of Change (
are public safety professionals with      drivers are an abstraction for you, get        Audience members insisted that this          And on September 7, join “Time for
our lives in their hands, and they        on the bus and get to know the people        didn’t change the fact that food that’s      Lunch,” the national day of action to
deserve far more than the $12.50 to       there. You will meet folks of all            fresh, local, organic, etc. tends to cost    get real food into schools. Go to
$14.50 they are currently getting. Yet backgrounds, ages, and stations in              more than food that’s none of those          www. and click on
the discussion that accompanied the       life, and experience the real diversity      things. Bain, who ran a social justice       “Events.”
strike vote was that this strike was not of the Central Coast in a way you can
to be about wages or benefits (health     find in few other places. The RTA,
benefits have recently improved           with its 1000+ daily round-trip riders,
significantly, but only for the drivers   is only one of the multiple transit
themselves; those with families face      providers in our area. Cumulatively,
major expenses to cover them), but        the systems carry multiple thousands
about “recognition.” For the drivers      of people both ways every weekday,
themselves to put up with the             and smaller but significant numbers
privation of living on a tiny fraction of on weekends. If this is a Central
their already inadequate pay without      Coast community you have never
looking forward to making it up in        visited because you can’t find it on the
higher wages after the strike seems       map, get to know it; you will never
self-defeating. But of the drivers        forget the people you meet!
present for the vote, 3/4 did vote to
strike, and the threat of the actual      Transit Note
walkout is still hanging over the         The “Graphic Arts” stop at Cal Poly
system, its drivers, and its riders.      will be moved in September with the
  So what kind of strike is worthy of     closing of South Perimeter Road; this
the self-sacrificing solidarity of the    should affect the SLO City lines 4, 5,
riders? I see four criteria that need to and 6, and the Regional lines 9 and
be met:                                   12. Most service will likely be
   1. The strike has tangible objectives rerouted via a stop to be created near
for which the case can be made that       the Kennedy Library. The stop at the         Festival of frankness: Judith Redmond, Larry Bain and Bradley Ogden confer at “Let’s be
current circumstances are unfair and      PAC will continue in service as is.          Frank...About Local Food”
Santa Lucian • September 2009

Taking Issue
problematic environmental coverage & commentary in our local media

  “Remove Sarah Christie from the planning commission,” by Andy Caldwell, New Times, July 23, 2009
  “Grand jury biased, critic claims,” by Bob Cuddy, The Tribune, July 25, 2009
  “Argument against Sierra Club is silly,”Editorial opinion of The Tribune, August 2, 2009
  “Discussion of complext issues is being undermined,” The Tribune, August 6, 2009

  Summary: Near simultaneous attacks on the Sierra Club, the County Planning Commission
  and two reports by the County Grand Jury this summer had a common but hidden thread, which
  Chapter Chair Karen Merriam subsequently unwound in a Tribune Viewpoint.

W debunking Kevin Rice’s accusa-
  e congratulate The Tribune for           strategies aimed at subverting the will   an organization representing an           generated with fewer impacts if we
                                           of the majority.                          extreme view of private property          were willing to have an honest
 tions against the Sierra Club. (“Argu-      Last year, our country and our          rights, is relentlessly calling for       discussion about the options? Blatant
 ment against Sierra Club is silly,”       county voted for change. That’s why       Christie’s removal — at public            pressure has been brought to bear to
 Aug. 2). Standing up in defense of the    we have a new president, and, closer      meetings, op-ed pieces, and wherever      prevent that open discussion –
 natural world for 117 years has made      to home, a new majority on the Board      else anyone will listen. COLAB            especially at the Planning Commis-
 the Sierra Club a target for detractors   of Supervisors. The voters want big       represents interests that lost some       sion, where Chairman Christie again
 of many persuasions. We prefer            change — strong leadership with a         influence when their friends were         has been the unmistakable target.
 honest, healthy debate on issues.         vision for reducing climate change        voted off the Board of Supervisors          Connect the dots of the attacks on
 Unfortunately, as the Tribune noted,      through energy efficiency and             last year. They want back what they       the Sierra Club, the grand jury and the
 Mr. Rice’s attack was personal, not       renewable energy; promoting smart-        lost.                                     Planning Commission, and what
 substantive; all about individuals and    growth land use; supporting local           Then there is the COSE, an update       emerges is an insidious and cynical
 conspiracy theories rather than           sustainable agriculture; and steward-     that will serve us well only if it is     effort to undermine the public process
 “focusing on the report itself.”          ing wildlands and endangered species.     founded on a clear vision with            and limit or prevent open discussion
   It’s a political tactic: Change the       Change will always face resistance      specific strategies for reaching goals    of the substance of complex issues.
 subject and kill the messenger. The       from those invested in the status quo.    that protect our livelihoods, our         Such tactics should not prevent us
 grand jury found evidence of serious      It is in this light that several recent   health, and the environment. How will     and our elected officials from work-
 misconduct in the preparation of a        local events are clearly illuminated:     our decisions today determine our         ing to further the change we voted for
 County Planning staff report which        The intense, coordinated pressure on      decisions for decades to come? For        last year.
 simply deleted a land use policy          the Planning Commission in updating       example, will we blindly rush to the        It is the duty of citizens to stay
 conflict pertaining to the proposed       the Energy chapter of the Conserva-       judgment that we must locate utility-     informed and hold elected officials
 sale of county land in the Oceano         tion and Open Space Element               scale solar power plants on the           accountable. It is the duty of our local
 Dunes – land that for off-roaders like    (COSE), and the baseless attack           Carrizo Plain to meet energy de-          elected representatives - as the agents
 Rice has become the hill to die on.       against a Planning Commissioner over      mands, or will we first consider how      for that change – to ignore the
 Mr. Rice attacked jurors and the          another grand jury report.                rooftop arrays and the development of     distraction of baseless attacks and to
 Sierra Club in his attempt to discredit     The findings of that report, which      local, distributed generation of energy   exercise the political courage and
 the report.                               exonerated Planning Commission            could meet our needs with less            vision needed to advance the mean-
   It’s one thing when such attacks are    Chair Sarah Christie from ridiculous      environmental impact? Are we willing      ingful change that will be their legacy.
 focused on the Sierra Club over a         and insupportable charges, have been      to accept destroying an irreplaceable
 single issue; it’s quite another when     distorted. The Coalition of Labor,        suite of rare species to generate clean   Karen Merriam is the Chair of the
 they are fronts for larger political      Agriculture and Business (COLAB),         energy that very likely could be          Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra

Upshot: Whether it’s COLAB whipping up a fake scandal in an effort to make County Supervisors cave, unseat a planning commissioner, and fast-track a
strategy to put an anti-environmental board majority back in charge of the county in order to cater to their collection of economic special interest groups, or “the
American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity” employing a p.r. agency that forges letters to Congress on the letterhead of constituent organizations to urge op-
position to the energy bill, the same thing is happening everywhere these days. Stay alert.
                                                                                                                             Santa Lucian • September 2009

Coastal Cleanup Day at 25
Saturday, September 19, 9 a.m. to Noon
                                                                                           by Holly Sletteland

                                                                                           The California Coastal Commission is        identifying what kind of trash is out
                                                                                           gearing up to celebrate the 25th            there and trying to figure out where it
                                                                                           Anniversary of Coastal Cleanup Day.         came from. It’s about going back to
                                                                                           After a quarter of a century, Coastal       the source and finding effective ways
                                                                                           Cleanup Day is still the largest            to stop the flow, whether that be
                                                                                           volunteer event of its kind in the          through education, ad campaigns,
                                                                                           world.                                      product redesign (think flip-top cans),
                                                                                             It also remains the largest volunteer     incentives (return deposit), disincen-
                                                                                           event in the County, turning out            tives (fines) or other options.
                                                                                           hundreds of volunteers to remove              The success of Coastal Cleanup Day
                                                                                           trash along the coast that has accu-        can be directly attributed to the tens
                                                                                           mulated over the course of the year.        of thousands of volunteers who have
                                                                                           We’re hoping that this will be the          generously given of their time – many
                                                                                           biggest and best cleanup ever! We’re        over and over again – to clean up our
                                                                                           organizing cleanups at 28 local             shorelines. In 2008, almost 75,000
                                                                                           beaches, from Point Sal to the south        volunteers turned out for Coastal
                                                                                           to San Simeon in the north. All of          Cleanup Day in the state as a whole, a
                                                                                           them will take place on Saturday,           20 percent jump over 2007. Last
                                                                                           September 19th from 9am to noon.            year’s volunteers removed a record
                                                                                             Trash on our beaches and in our           1.6 million pounds of debris, of which
                                                                                           oceans doesn’t just look bad, it is bad     almost 200,000 pounds was recycled,
                                                                                           for the gazillions of animals that call     both record numbers for the Cleanup
                                                                                           those places home and for the people        Program. In San Luis Obispo County
                                                                                           that visit them. Beyond being an            alone, almost 1,300 volunteers
                                                                                           eyesore, some trash like broken             collected over 4,500 pounds of trash
                                                                                           bottles, jutting nails, and old syringes,   and recyclables in 2008. Unfortu-
                                                                                           can cause injuries to beach goers.          nately, those numbers actually
                                                                                           Trash can also damage boats, clog           represent a decrease over prior years.
                                                                                           intake pipes, discourage tourists and       We’re looking for your help in
                                                                                           cause other economic hardship. It can       reversing that trend. It’s only a few
                                                                                           also harm ecosystems by transporting        hours. It’s fun – kind of like a treasure
                                                                                           invasive species and smothering life        hunt. All you need to do is show up at
                                                                                           on reefs and the sea floor. But most        your favorite beach on September
                                                                                           worrisome of all, trash is extremely        19th to do your part. Bring your
                                                                                           dangerous for marine wildlife,              water bottle and we’ll fill it up with
                                                                                           including seabirds, turtles, seals,         ice water or lemonade. You’ll walk
                                                                                           dolphins and whales. Every year,            away feeling good about making a
                                                                                           hundreds of thousands of animals            difference and you may even win a
                                                                                           suffer and die needlessly from eating       prize!
                                                                                           or getting tangled up in our discards,
                                                                                           such as plastic bags, six pack rings        Holly Sletteland is a Volunteer
                                                                                           and old fishing gear.                       Coordinator with ECOSLO with a
                                                                                             Coastal Cleanup Day is very much          passion for getting people involved in
                                                                                           about getting the trash off our             projects to help heal the earth. She is
                                                                                           beaches. But it’s more than that. It’s      a past Chapter Chair & Conservation
                                                                                           about accepting responsibility for          Chair for the Santa Lucia Chapter of
                                                                                           keeping the beaches clean, even if the      the Sierra Club and a 20+ year
                                                                                           trash is not our own. It’s about            member of the Sierra Club.

Take 2 Minutes to Support a                                                                continued from page 1

Marine Sanctuary for SLO                                                                   California’s Attorney General, who
                                                                                           continues to monitor the mounting
                                                                                                                                       requests. To read the CEC Data
                                                                                                                                       Requests, utility responses and
                                                                                           stockpiles of highly radioactive waste      A4NR’s comments go to
                                                                                           on our fragile coast with no perma- We have just begun
The movement to get the waters off SLO County declared part of the Monterey                nent storage facility and no estimated      reading PG&E’s responses on Diablo
Bay National Marine Sanctuary is gathering steam, and you can be part of it!               date for offsite removal.                   Canyon, so check back if they are not
  If you own or manage a business in the county dependent on tourism, the                    Last year, a cost, benefit and risk       yet posted.
extension of the Marine Sanctuary would be just about the best thing that                  analysis of the state’s dependence on         If you would like to review these
could happen to your business, and your opinion carries weight.                            coastal reactors designed and permit-       documents and provide input or join
                                                                                           ted in the late 1960s was mandated by       others to provide input let the
Just go to:                                                                                AB 1632 (Blakeslee, R-San Luis              Alliance know your area of interest                                           Obispo). On the day the Energy              and how best to contact you. Feel
                                                                                           Commission released the analysis,           free to provide your comments and
and download the petition, print it out and fill it in — or hand it to your                PG&E announced a new active                 whether you would like to have your
favorite local business owner to fill out and mail to us.                                  earthquake fault had been discovered        comments attached to our CEC and/
  That’s it. We’ll make sure you get the word when your voice is needed at a               1800 feet offshore of the Diablo site.      or NRC filings on license renewal
public meeting to help make this happen. One call, one meeting.                            Assemblyman Blakeslee immediately           issues. Send an e-mail to
                                         If you or your friend want more informa-          introduced legislation to fund 3D 
                                       tion or need any convincing as to why this          mapping and state-of-the-art technol-         Many have joined the Alliance for
                                       is a very good thing to do, go to:                  ogy to create a basis for reliance on       Nuclear Responsibility’s “Audacity to
                                       the seismically active Diablo site. The     Hope” that we can end the production
                                       06June.pdf                                          bill would also require the Energy          of radioactive waste on our fragile
                                         The ocean thanks you!                             Commission to review these studies          coast; we ask you to support our
                                                                                           to determine whether Diablo Canyon          efforts:
                                                                            Terry Lilley

                                                                                           can provide clean, safe and reliable           Encourage a CEC investigation into
                                                                                           generation for the future and if so, at     possibilities of wind power at Diablo,
                                                                                           what cost.                                  and other renewables (renewable@
                                                                                             In June 2009, the Energy Commis- and investment in
                                                                                           sion sent a large packet of data            an energy efficiency think tank/
                                                                                           requests to SCE and PG&E to update          retraining center to phase out
                                                                                           last year’s analysis and create recom-      production of waste while investing in
                                                                                           mendations for this year’s energy           future generations, and increasing
                                                                                           review. On July 22, 2009, SCE and           jobs (
                                                                                           PG&E responded to the CEC’s data
Santa Lucian • September 2009

A Sewer, Almost
Never did a project so flawed get so much better so fast
As a rule, improvements in what you         needed to “support the project,”                quantities of toxic sludge produced as          alternatives can be compared, the
are given are extremely unlikely if you     elected not to follow the path of least         an end product of treatment. These              ‘alternatives’ presented in the DEIR
simply take whatever is offered.            resistance in doing so. We joined with          two parts of the project still need to          are more akin to a series of proposed
  On August 13, after hundreds of           concerned local citizens who insisted           be changed to ensure that the County            projects, rather than the means to
hours of study and public testimony,        that the project feature tertiary, not          takes the environmentally superior              compare the worth and value of
two field trips, 8,000 pages of docu-       just secondary treatment of wastewa-            course of action on the largest public          alternatives to a proposed project.”
mentation and 170 pages of findings         ter; that treated effluent be disposed          works project in its history.                     The Sierra Club is appealing the
and conditions, the County Planning         of inside, not outside, the ground                The Environmental Impact Report               certification of the EIR in order to
Commission proved this point when it        water basin and be made available to            on which those decisions were based             correct those flaws, correctly state the
approved the permit for the Los Osos        growers to reduce pumping of the                was correctly and repeatedly charac-            project’s environmental impacts and
Wastewater Project.                         lower aquifer and seawater intrusion;           terized by Commissioners as “flawed.”           clarify the collection and disposal
  The Commission vastly improved on         and that a more aggressive water                They were being kind. Golden State              options before a permit is approved.
the project as originally submitted by      conservation program be mandated.               Water Co. correctly summed up the                 The Planning Commission’s process
County Public Works -- a project that       And so it has come to pass.                     fatal flaw of the EIR’s “failure to make        and the project that emerged from it
had no chance of receiving a coastal          Unfortunately, what the Commis-               a connection between the facts                  was a testament to the value of public
development permit due to its               sion did not do, despite a wealth of            presented and the conclusions                   advocacy. Local residents, community
impermissable environmental                 evidence that it should, was mandate            reached.” Further: “because the                 groups, wastewater experts and
impacts. Sewage will now be sub-            the use of a pressurized effluent               County fails to set forth an accurate           environmental organizations brought
jected to a significantly higher level of   collection system and the use of                project description, a meaningful               their concerns to the Commission,
treatment, producing effluent that          facultative ponds for treatment. The            alternatives analysis is impossible.            backed them up with facts and data,
can be safely recycled for use on           selected gravity system and Biolac              Because the DEIR does not provide a             and the Commission listened.
crops. The treatment plant and              treatment would result in greater               stable project description to which               Had we all heeded the call to “just
disposal method will not consume                                                                                                            do it” and acquiesced to the project
645 acres of prime agricultural land.                                                                                                       that Public Works submitted to the
The treated effluent will remain in the                                                  “We’re trying to give the                          Planning Commission, none of the
basin and be put to work curbing                                                        county some guidance and                            above improvements would be part of
saltwater intrusion instead of being                                                    direction to avoid a train                          the project now.
sprayed away outside the water basin                                                    wreck at the end of this                              When the permit comes before the
in the middle of a drought. A mandate                                                   line.”                                              Board, for the sake of the aquifer, the
to reduce water use by 25 percent is                                                                                                        Morro Bay Estuary and the citizens of
included, more than doubling the
                                                                                                           - Peter Douglas
                                                                                                                                            Los Osos, those improvements need
originally proposed level of water                                                                      Executive Director,
                                                                                                                                            to stay there, and two more need to
conservation.                                                                               California Coastal Commission                   be added: an environmentally prefer-
  The improved project demonstrates                                                                                                         able treatment method, and the
the reason why the Sierra Club, in                                                                                                          consideration of an alternative
agreeing at the outset that we all                                                                                                          collection system in the bidding

Sewer Myths Busted                                                                          be grown under power lines.
                                                                                            > PG&E restrictions apply to the
                                                                                            heights of trees and structures under
                                                                                                                                            “You’re about to approve
                                            theoretically, there could be connect-          power lines, not grass and hay.
                                                                                                                                            a $200 million waste-
The County Planning Commission
hearings on the Los Osos Wastewater         ing strata between the aquifers.                                                                water project that won’t
Project shone a bright light on             > The Tonini site is outside the water          The use of recycled water in the Los            be worth a dime if the
various claims asserted by the County       basin. Treated wastewater disposed of           Osos basin cannot be required until             basin is lost.”
and the Public Works Department             at Tonini would be water wasted.                the basin has been adjudicated.
about the biggest, longest-running                                                          > State law requires that recycled                  - Keith Wimer to the Board of
public works project in county              The Andre site cannot be used                   water must be used in lieu of well                           Supervisors, 7/14/09
history. They fell like autumn leaves       because PG&E will not allow the hay/            water by ag users if recycled water is
before the questioning of Commis-           grass crop that would be required to            available.
sioners and in the face of hard data.
  A short list, with >corrections<:                                                                                                                                                         Cleath & Associates/Keith Weimer, LOSG

Gravity sewers don’t leak; any
evidence of such deficiency is a result
of old technology, the failure of 100-
year-old clay pipes, etc.
> Major infiltration and inflow of
groundwater has been found in gra-
vity systems less than ten years old.

Gravity sewers are environmentally
preferable to STEP/STEG collection.
> The only significant environmental
benefit of gravity over STEP is the
reduction of the amount of sludge
produced when a gravity system is
used with facultative ponds. If facul-
tative ponds are not used, there is no
environmental advantage to a gravity
sewer. Facultative ponds are not (yet)
part of the County’s project.

All collection systems would have
roughly equivalent impacts and the
Coastal Commission has no issues
with the selection of one over
> Dan Carl, Central Coast District
Manager, California Coastal Commis-
sion, wrote to County Public Works
Director Paavo Ogren on July 15 to
say that sludge reduction should be
made a “a high priority in the
selection of preferred collection and
treatment technologies.”

The Tonini disposal site might not be       The estimated progress of seawater intrusion since 2005 is the third, and biggest bulge; the rate of progress for the prior 20 years is shown
                                            in the layers to the left of it. The rate of seawater intrusion into the basin is now under the Los Osos downtown and commercial area and
outside the water basin because,            appears to be four to eight times faster than it was four years ago.
                                                                                                                         Santa Lucian • September 2009

Historic State Ruling:
Solar Beats Gas
Energy Commission decision could apply to Morro Bay plant upgrade

by Jack McCurdy

A landmark June 17 California Energy        generation are considered.
Commission decision ruled for the             As the Commission was poised to
first time that solar energy is a viable    vote on the Chula Vista decision in
alternative to fossil-fuel power plants.    Sacramento, member Julia Levin said
   The finding is expected to have          the Commission “needs to site more
revolutionary consequences statewide        solar power in California,” adding “we
and nationally in recognizing that          need as much support for solar as we
solar energy can replace conventional       do for peaker plants.”
energy generation as a more feasible,         The current Morro Bay plant owner,
cost-effective and much more                Dynegy, has made no effort to pursue
environmentally protective way to           state permission to build a new and
produce electricity and meet the            larger plant in Morro Bay since a 2004
public’s needs.                             federal court decision banned use of
  The Commission ruled that “photo-
voltaic solar arrays on rooftops and
over parking lots may be a
                                            sea water for cooling by any new
                                            power plant, a process known as
                                            once-through cooling. In the case of
                                                                                       Painting of the Month
viable alternative” to a gas-fired plant,   the Morro Bay plant, water for cooling     Here at Sierra Club’s downtown SLO hq, we’re pleased to share our wall space
a ruling that applies in principle to       is drawn from the Morro Bay National       with the San Luis Artists Collective, and to share with you peeks at intriguing
energy production by conventional           Estuary, and this withdrawal by a new      new canvasses as they appear. Our spotlighted canvas for September is “Wait-
plants the length of the California         plant could kill up to 33% of the          ing,” by Evy Justessen, acrylic, 32 x 17.”
coast that have long used fossil fuels,     Estuary’s crab and fish larvae,              All the Artists Collective’s works are for sale, with 25% of the proceeds
primarily natural gas.                      according to state-supervised studies.     donated to the Sierra Club. Call 546-8907, or e-mail
  Locally, the rulilng could prevent a        Another such court decision in 2007
proposed upgrade of the 55-year-old         banned use of sea water for all
Morro Bay Power Plant and further           existing plants, raising questions
extension of its life, which its owner      about the legal or regulatory author-      Power Plant Comments Due Sept. 30
previously had said will end in 2015.       ity to allow the current plant to
   Under the Commission’s precedent-        continue to operate using once-            New regulations required by two             September 30. What will count is the
setting decision rejecting proposed         through cooling.                           recent federal court decisions to end       number of people who register their
gas-fired “peaker” units at the Chula         Prompted by those landmark court         the killing of fish and larvae by coastal   objections to the regulations as
Vista plant near San Diego in favor of      decisions, the California State Water      power plants that use ocean water for       written and call for compliance with
considering solar as a substitute           Resources Control Board last year          cooling purposes are under consider-        the Clean Water Act, which prohibits
source, solar energy from panels            issued draft regulations requiring gas-    ation by the California Water Re-           destruction of coastal resources by
installed on residential and commer-        fired plants to stop using once-           sources Control Board. The draft            power plants, for the first time since
cial buildings could be required in         through cooling by 2015, which led to      regulations fall far short of bringing a    the Act was adopted 35 years ago.
place of proposed new peaker genera-        Dynegy telling the Morro Bay City          50-year slaughter of sea life to an end       For information on the flawed draft
tion units at the Morro Bay plant.          Council that it would close the plant      within a acceptable time frame.             regs and points to make, go to
  The Chula Vista peaker project            that year. A final draft of those            The board will accept comments on         www.morrobay
proposed by MMC Energy, Inc., the           regulations is expected shortly.           the draft regulations until 12 noon on
plant owner, was rejected primarily           But recently, Dynegy has come up
because of zoning conflicts, but the        with the idea of installing new gas-
solar finding established a new far-        fired units at the plant, City Hall

                                                                                       Well Oiled
reaching standard. If that finding on       sources said. Dynegy apparently wants
solar were applied here, it could mean      to install the peakers because the old
there would be no further need for          plant now operates only about six per
the Morro Bay plant because electric-       cent of the time as it is highly
ity volume equivalent to what the           inefficient. The peakers would operate
peakers would produce could be              during high-demand summer periods
generated by photovoltaic (PV) solar        in Southern California.                    You can’t “expunge” anything on the web
off the plant site.                           In its decision, the Commission
  The testimony of Bill Powers, an          said: “The (Chula Vista) Applicant         For a riveting
engineer with more than 25 years of         effectively eliminated photovoltaic        lesson in civics
experience in the energy field, was         (PV) generation from its alternatives      and state
instrumental in the Commission              analysis when it stated that it did ‘not   politics, it
concluding that solar is a viable           meet the project objective of utilizing    would be hard
alternative to conventional plants.         natural gas available from the existing    to beat the
Powers says there is no reason why          transmission system’...This is another     July 23 debate
that finding would not be applicable        example of a too-narrow project            on the floor of
to Morro Bay and throughout the             objective artificially limiting the        the California
industry in California.                     range of potential alternatives.”          State Assembly
  Expanding on the Commission’s               The Commission noted that “Photo-        over Assembly
findings in a recent article in Natural     voltaic arrays mounted on existing         Bill 23
Gas and Electricity, an industry            flat warehouse roofs or on top of          (DeVore, R-
journal, Powers wrote “The decision         vehicle shelters in parking lots do not    Irvine), the
implies that any future applications        consume any acreage. The ware-             attempt to
for gas-fired generation in California,     houses and parking lots continue to        stake a new oil
or any other type of generation, in-        perform those functions with the PV        lease in state
cluding remote utility-scale renew-         in place. Mr. Powers provided detailed     coastal waters
able energy generation that may             analysis of the costs of such PV,          for the first       Smackdown: Assemblymembers DeVore and Nava face off.
require public land and new transmis-       concluding that there was little or no     time in 40
sion to reach demand centers, will be       difference between the cost of energy      years as part of the budget bill.         Most notable is the evidence of the
measured against using urban PV to          provided by a project such as the             Taken up after thirty hours of       wisdom of the people of Santa
meet the power need.” Powers                Chula Vista Energy Upgrade Project         budget wrangling, the bill would have Barbara in electing Assemblymember
pointed out that installing PV on           compared with the cost of energy           reversed longstanding state environ-    Pedro Nava, who noted, per the L.A.
rooftops in urban areas is far less         provided by PV.                            mental policy, reopening the coastline Times, that the bill’s assurances of
costly and environmentally disruptive         “In addition, while PV is not            to offshore drilling for the first time future environmental protections
than solar plants being developed in        a quick-start technology which can be      since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil        constituted promises “written in the
desert areas. (Read Powers’s articles at    dispatched on ten minutes’ notice any      disaster, the event that created the    sand at low tide.”
www.santalucia. -- click     time of the day or night, PV does pro-     environmental movement.                    The Assembly vote in which AB 23
on “Localized Power.”)                      vide power at a time when demand is          The debate is available on the        went down to defeat 43-28 was the
  A top Commission official said the        likely to be high—on hot, sunny            California Channel at www.calchannel vote that was quietly “expunged,” to a
Chula Vista decision is likely to           days.”                                     .com/channel/viewvideo/611 . Scroll     statewide storm of protest. But video
become a precedent and will be a key          “In the event the Applicant chooses      down the timeline to 00:46:25 to see    is forever, so take advantage of The
issue in future cases when analyses of      to pursuethis matter further, we will      and hear who was in favor of protect-   California Channel’s invaluable
alternatives, which is required under       require a more in-depth analysis of        ing our priceless coast and who         resource and tune in. A full vote tally
Commission review procedures, to            the PV alternative by both Staff and       wasn’t, in the name of delivering a     is provided at the end of the half-hour
proposed projects using conventional        Applicant.”                                windfall gift to an oil company.        debate.
Santa Lucian • September 2009

                                                                                                                      SLO Community
                                                                                                                      Gardeners 3rd
                                                                                                                      Annual Seed
                                                                                                                      Seed Exchange takes place on Friday,
                                                                                                                      October 23, from 6 – 9 p.m. at the
                                                                                                                      SLO City Library Community Room.
                                                                                                                      It’s free and open to the public.
                                                                                                                        This event is an opportunity to
                                                                                                                      share gardening knowledge and learn
                                                                                                                      more about saving seeds, locally
                                                                                                                      grown grains and grasses, medicinal
                                                                                                                      plants, hybrid vs open pollinated seed,
                                                                                                                      how to garden year round in our
                                                                                                                      climate, and plants that attract native
                                                                                                                        You don’t need to bring seeds, just
                                                                                                                      your curiosity and interest.

                                                                                                                      Vegetables, flowers, specialty domesti-
                                                                                                                      cated plants, native plants, and trees
                                                                                                                      are welcome.

                                                                                                                      —BULBS & ROOT STOCK

                                                                                                                      EVENT SPONSORS:
                                                                                                                      SLO City Parks & Rec
                                                                                                                      Clark Valley Farm
                                                                                                                      Cal Poly Organic Farm &
                                                                                                                      SARC/Sustainable Ag Resource
                                                                                                                      Growing Grounds Santa Maria
                                                                                                                      Growing Grounds Downtown
                                                                                                                      Sierra Club Santa Lucia Chapter

                                                                                                                      For more information call: 543-5364.

                                                                                                                      Save the planet – grow organic!

Let’s Paddle
It’s time for Surfrider San Luis Bay Chapter’s annual benefit paddle for the Central Coast Junior Lifeguard Program

17th Annual Ken Harmount Pier to Pier Paddle, A benefit for Central Coast Junior Lifeguards.

Saturday September 12th at Old Port Beach, Avila Beach
Registration 7:00-7:45 a.m.
Event begins 8:00 a.m.

All paddle craft are welcome—kayaks, paddleboards, stand up boards, etc.

How long:
Two distances to choose:
6.5 miles from Cal Poly Pier to Pismo Pier (the Classic), or
13 miles round trip (the Endurance)

How much:
$30 advance registration or $40 day of. Registration includes t-shirt, water,
and equipment transportation back to Avila. All proceeds go to Junior Guards.

How to:
Pre-register at Central Coast Kayaks in Shell Beach at 805-773-3500.

Who to call:
For more details, call Paul Schiro at 773-3500.
                                                                                                                             Santa Lucian • September 2009

send to:, or Sierra Club, P.O. Box 15755, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406. Letters may be edited for space.

The off-road threat
                                                                                                           attack people in our        tune of $25,000—another loss to
Thank you for exposing SLO County’s                                                                        area who are fighting       taxpayers.
deliberate omission of important                                                                           against expansion of          All this has to change because it’s
documents concerning the proposed                                                                          their parks.                enabling people with little education
sale of buffer lands to the ODSVRA                                                                            I’d like to see          to purchase and operate the very
(“Grand Jury Slams County Planning                                                                         environmental               vehicles that are the nemesis of
on Oceano Dunes,” July-August). You                                                                        groups working              beaches, mountains, and streambeds
can’t know how happy it makes those                                                                        shoulder to shoulder        throughout the country.
of us who’ve been struggling with this                                                                     to bring about a sea           Thanks again for your support on
issue—we residents and business                                                                            change concerning           this. Let’s keep the heat on. There’s so
owners who’ve felt utterly defeated by                                                                     off-roading. We need        much at stake.
this burgeoning threat to our quiet                                                                        to go beyond the
enjoyment of our dunes and beaches.                                                                        arguments that focus                                              SM
   I’ve been studying the mounting                                                                         on a single endan-                                   Grover Beach, CA
threat of off-roading not only to our                                                                      gered species, such
area, but to natural areas throughout      Catch a wave: An unsuccessful creek crossing at the ODSVRA.       as the snowy plover,
the country, and am convinced it’s                                                                          in order to gain the       You’re welcome, SM. (And we’re just
one of the worst threats to our                                                         support of middle America. They need           printing your initials because a local
environment. The constant erosion,         and everyone with half a brain in their to understand how it is causing                     off-roading representative and avid
not to mention loss of habitat to so       head realizes it’s causing millions of       irreparable harm to our lands, and             reader of this publication has a well-
many flora and fauna, is reaching          dollars of damage each year to public        diseases such as mesothelioma,                 earned rep for the “investigation” and
critical proportions, while the so-        health and wealth, yet it goes on with       cancers, and heart disease to popula-          harassment and of folks who hold
called “sport” grows unabated. In          the approval by local governments            tions affected by dust.                        opinions such as yours, and would
some areas, it’s tripled in the past 5     influenced by interagency collusion.           I’d also like to see a complete              surely add you to his enemies list if
years!                                     And everyone who’s been encouraged           investigation of the Chappie-Z’berg            we printed your name.) If you have
   Years ago, off-roading promoters        to participate in off-roading over the       Act of 1971 that continues to swindle          not yet read the Foundation for Deep
talked government agencies into            years now has an ingrained sense of          us out of gas taxes to finance off-            Ecology’s Thrillcraft: The Environ-
setting aside areas of public lands for    nostalgia about having had the               roading. And the practice of off-              mental Consequences of Motorized
them to ride on with the argument          opportunity to ride around wherever          roaders financing the cost of hauling          Recreation, we recommend you --
that if they didn’t, enthusiasts would     they please. They cite a rhetoric we         their vehicles using tax deductions for        and everyone else -- do so. Go to
run roughshod over private lands. I’m      used to hear about cowboys and               “business and farm” vehicles to the  
sure it wasn’t this argument alone         west—making it really difficult to use
that got politicians to go along with      logical arguments in the discussion. If
this—when big bucks change hands,          their daddies did it, it’s good enough
all kinds of things happen. But the        for them, etc.
BLM and States went along with this           Clearly this is a huge problem, not
reasoning, and now we’ve been taken        restricted to a few state parks, but
over by minority interests that have a     nationwide, and internationally as
sense of entitlement promoted by the       well. Off-roaders have been encour-
tacit approval they receive from           aged to demonize anyone wanting to
politicians who benefit from the           curtail their activities. I see bumper
“sport.”                                   stickers with “death to the Sierra
   The ODSVRA is an abomination,           Club” messages, etc. They personally
                                                                                       continued from page 2

                                                                                       environmentally destructive projects            electoral cycle. The developer-backed
                                                                                       or against policies necessary to                “business candidates” sweep back in,
                                                                                       maintain a healthy environment and              and get back down to business; the
                                                                                       sustainable resources. Once targeted            business of long-term destruction for
                                                                                       officials have been persuaded to turn           short-term profits.
                                                                                       against their own constituencies and              That’s the playbook these plays are
Fall Lodge Calendar                                                                    have lost their compass – whip-sawed,
                                                                                       compromised and alienating the
                                                                                       people who elected them to head in a
                                                                                                                                       being called from, both at the
                                                                                                                                       national level and in our neck of the
                                                                                                                                       woods. In both arenas, one great
                                           By Olivia Diaz                              new direction rather than allow                 truth pertains: When the circus
                                                                                       themselves to be lashed back down               comes to town, we all have to sweep
                                            Fall at Clair Tappaan Lodge is golden.     the path of the old direction — they            up after the elephants.
                                            Located 7000 feet up in the Sierra         become easy pickings in the next
                                            Nevada, the lodge experiences sunny
                                                                                                                                                                                       Dennis Eamon Young Photo,

                                            days and crisp nights. In late Septem-
                                            ber and October the leaves turn and
                                            change the color of the mountains.
                                            The Clair Tappaan Lodge and
                                            Hutchinson Lodge are located at
                                            19940 Donner Pass Road in Norden/
                                            Soda Springs, California.
                                              This fall there are two national
                                            outings and fall program offered by
                                            Lodge staff.
                                            * September 4, Full Moon Hike
                                            * September 20-26, National Outing,
50+ Ridgetop Rambles, Tahoe National Forest, CA.
* September 25-27, Weekend Lodge Work Parties: Come and help spruce up the
Lodge you love. Volunteer for six hours on both Saturday and Sunday in
exchange for free lodging and meals during the weekend. We’ll also send you
home with a 20% discount for a future weekend. Let us know if you have any
special skills that you’d like to show off and share. Tasks during the weekend
range from lodge cleaning and painting to firewood splitting and stacking and
everything in between.
* October 4-10, Pastel Painting along Sierra Trails, Tahoe National Forest, CA. A
Sierra Club National Outing.                                                           Three days before the Planning Commission heard the proposed Ag Events ordinance,
* October 31/November 1, Halloween party and Day of the Dead commemora-                Supervisor Adam Hill (left) presided over a SLO Chamber of Commerce-hosted discussion of
tion. Bring a costume, pumpkin(s) to carve and your tools, and a remembrance           the ordinance with County planner Karern Nall, Sierra Club’s Andrew Christie, the Farm
                                                                                       Bureau’s Jackie Crabb, Kim Pasciuto of the Ag Tourism Coalition, and Daniella Sapriel (not
of a loved one who is no longer in this world.                                         shown) of the Coalition of Affected Business Owners. Sierra Club and the Ag Tourism
* November 26, Thanksgiving dinner at Clair Tappaan Lodge is always a fun              Coalition support the revision of the ordinance to ensure that events on ag land are
event.                                                                                 supportive of active agriculture and keep ag land from turning into de facto commercial
                                                                                       zoning.The ordinance’s opponents packed the meeting, called us “dishonest” and warned of
* December 31, Traditional New Year’s celebration.                                     destroyed livelihoods while flourishing poll results that actually showed (buried way down at
   Reservations required. Call 1 800 679-6775 for information and reservations         question #28), that 75 percent of respondents felt that not being allowed to hold unlimited
or check out our website at                     non-ag related events on their ag land would make “no difference” to their bottom line.
Santa Lucian • September 2009

Next issue deadline is September 10.
To get a rate sheet or submit your ad
and payment, contact:
Sierra Club - Santa Lucia Chapter
P.O. Box 15755
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406

   Law Offices of Jan Howell Marx
              A Client Centered Practice

                  Environmental Law
                      Elder Law
                     Real Estate
                   Wills and Trusts


continued from page 1
                                           entrenched, powerful opposition, the
and against the adoption of the new        commission is rising to the challenge
standards as the hearing roller-           of revising all California’s codes to
coastered dramatically to its conclu-      allow/require better building systems.
sion.                                        Besides its emergency approval of
  The commissioners are to be              the new graywater standards, the BSC
congratulated for their leadership. It     is also revising California’s Green                           CYNTHIA HAWLEY
is always more work to set up a new        Building Standards. This is a historic
system than to fit into an existing        shift towards considering all factors
one. It would be easier to stand aside     — not just occupant safety but also
as legal buildings continue to waste       off site and future impacts—in
resources and pollute the environ-         developing building codes that truly                 ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
ment. But, in the face of deeply           protect our health and welfare.                               LAND USE
                                                                                                     CIVIL LITIGATION

                                                                                              P.O. Box 29 Cambria California 93428
                                                                                              Phone 805-927-5102 Fax 805-927-5220
The Shade of Trees
If my skin could smile, it would,
whenever I step into you.
Your scattered oases bring relief during my warm weather walk.                        Put yourself on the SLO Sierra Club E-Alert list
Under you, the air, considerably cooler, lifts some of the sweat from my body.
Those big green umbrella leaves beam up my beads of human dew                         Get immediate news on events of environmental interest, public
and I feel instantly soothed.                                                         meeting and hearings where your attendance could make the
The tree is a comforting mother
because in those pleasant moments,
                                                                                      difference, and the low-down on the issues that matter.
it pats me down like an overheated baby
and I am renewed.                                                                     Drop a note to and ask to be subscribed to
                                                                    - Kalila Volkov   Sierra Club e-alerts for San Luis Obispo.
                                                                         July 2009
                                                                                                                                                         Santa Lucian • September 2009

Outings and Activities Calendar
Seller of travel registration information: CST 2087766-40. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.

All our hikes and activities are                      the permit fee (non-refundable) to the                improvements for the Soda Lake
open to all Club members and the                      leader: KULDIP DHADWAL, 420                           Overlook. On Sunday we will tour a
general public. If you have any                       Carnation Place, Oxnard 93036, 815-                   number of the historic, prehistoric,
suggestions for hikes or outdoor                      8418 (SP) (Sponsored By Los Padres                    and geologic sites in the Monument.
activities, questions about the                       Chapter of the Sierra Club).                          Leader Craig Deutsche,
                                                                                                  , (310-477-
Chapter’s outing policies, or
                                                      Sat, September 12, 8:30 a.m., Big                     6670) CNRCC Desert Committee.
would like to be an outings leader,                   Sur Coastal Hike. At least 8 miles
call the Outings Chair, Joe Morris,                   approx. 2000 foot elevation gain.                     Sun, September 27, 10 a.m. Maino
772-1875. For information on a                        Exact destination is unknown at this                  Open Space trail/Lemon Grove Loop.
specific outing, please call the                      time, but may be Vicente Flat on the                  Pole Cats is dedicated to leading local
outing leader.”                                       Kirk Creek Trail. It will depend on the               Sierra Club day hikes and modeling
                                                      weather. Meet at the Washburn Day                     the benefits of using trekking poles.
To Outings Leaders: E-mail your                       Use Area, San Simeon State Park. SLO                  2.2 miles/400 feet elevation change.
outings write-ups to Gary Felsman                     Carpools should meet at Santa Rosa                    The trailhead is located off the Marsh
no later than the 10th of the                         Park and leave by 7:40 a.m. Bring                     Street onramp of southbound
preceding month. Your descrip-                        lunch, plenty of water and non-slip                   Highway 101. From downtown SLO
                                                      shoes. There maybe poison oak and                     take Higuera Street to the intersec-                This is a partial listing of Outings
tions may be edited for space and                                                                                                                                     offered by our chapter.
                                                      ticks along the trail. Details, call Gary             tion with Marsh Street and proceed as
consistency.                                          (473-3694).                                           if to take 101 South. Immediately                      Please check the web page
                                                                                                            after the freeway underpass, bear          for
                                                      Sat, September 12, 10 a.m., Islay                     right into the parking lot. Confirm                  the most up-to-date listing of
Wed, September 2, 9, 16, 23, 30th.                    Hill Open Space. Pole Cats is dedi-                   with David Georgi at 458-5575 or                                 activities.
5:30 p.m. Informal Hikes around San                   cated to leading local Sierra Club day                polecatleader@ for
Luis Obispo, approximately 5 miles                    hikes and modeling the benefits of                    upcoming activities. Bipeds welcome
with 1200 foot elevation gain. Bring                  using trekking poles. 1 mile/400 feet
water and dress for the weather. E-                   elevation change. Join us for a hike                  Sun, September 27, 1-3 p.m.
mail:                       with spectacular views of Edna Valley                 Sketching Walk at Estero Bluffs.                  Study/Work Party). With little rainfall
for details.                                          to the south and morros to the north.                 Pack your paints or pencils for a                 and few water sources, the species
                                                      From Broad, go east on Tank Farm,                     session depicting the dramatic cliffs,            that live here on the Carrizo Plain are
September 5-7, Thousand Island                        turn right on Wavertree, left on                      seascapes, and bird life of Estero                both hardy and endangered. Particu-
Lake via River Trail Backpack:                        Spanish Oaks and veer right onto                      Bluffs, just north of Cayucos, and co-            larly beautiful are the pronghorn
Strenuous, 18 miles round trip, 2000’                 Sweetbay and park near cul de sac.                    led by professional artist, Lucia                 antelope which evolved in these wild,
gain. Saturday, Day 1, hike 7.5 miles                 Confirm with David Georgi at 458-                     Capacchione. Beginners to highly                  open spaces. Then cattle ranching left
to Thousand Island Lake. Sunday, Day                  5575 or polecatleader@ for                  skilled all welcome. Bring all art                a legacy of endless fences - which are
2, day spend a leisure day at the camp                upcoming activities. Bipeds welcome.                  supplies needed, hat, water, comfort-             deadly to the pronghorn. We’ve been
or hike to Garnet lake and vicinity,                                                                        able walking shoes, and an optional               removing barbed wire for several
Day 3, Return via Pacific Crest High                  September 20, 3:00pm, Sierra                          stool. Meet at Cayucos Pier for short             years and have cleaned up the
Trail which provides 180 degree views                 Singles – Valencia Peak. Sunday –                     rideshare. Leader: Joe Morris, 772-               American Ranch area! Join us as we
of the mountains, lakes. Possible we                  Come join hike leader Stacy Talbert                   1875.                                             now work on the Panorama Ranch.
will see fall colors, Golden Aspens.                  for this 4-mile moderate hike with an                                                                   Camp at Selby campground, bring
Bring goodies to share for Friday and                 elevation gain/loss of 1200 feet. At a                Wed, October 7, 14, 21, 28, 30th.                 food, water, heavy leather work
Saturday happy hour. Send 2 SASE                      full elevation of 1347’, Valencia Peak                5:30 p.m. Informal Hikes around                   gloves, and camping gear for the
with resume of recent backpacks or                    has spectacular views from Point Sal                  San Luis Obispo, approximately 5                  weekend. Potluck Sat night. Rain
conditioning and 2 checks: $25                        to Piedras Blancas. Please be sure to                 miles with 1200 foot elevation gain.              cancels. Meet at the Goodwin Visitors’
refundable at the trailhead and $5 for                bring sturdy hiking shoes, hiking                     Bring water and dress for the weather.            Center at 9:00 am Sat. We are making
                                                      poles if you desire, and plenty of                    E-mail:                 a difference! Resource specialist: Alice
                                                      water. We will meet near the Montana                  for details.                                      Koch. For more information, contact
                                                      de Oro State Park Headquarters. Take                                                                    Leaders: Cal and Letty French, 14140
                                                      Los Osos Valley Road to Montana de                    Sat-Sun, October 3-4, Santa Lucia                 Chimney Rock Road, Paso Robles, CA
Fundraising Cruises in 2009                           Oro State Park, then go about another                 Chapter/CNRCC Desert Com O:                       93446, (805-239-7338). Prefer e-mail
Island Hopping in Channel                             2.7 miles to the parking area. Call                   Antelope Protection Carcamp (Nature     
                                                      Stacy for any questions or more
Islands National Park                                 details (818) 472-6827.
September 11-14
                                                      Wed, September 23, 7-9 pm. Bi-
Come and explore the wild, wind-                      monthly General Meeting. The
swept islands of Channel Island                       Transition Towns Movement. Begun
National Park.                                        in a small England town only three
   Cruises depart from Santa Barbara                  years ago, the Transition Towns
aboard the 68’ twin diesel Truth.                     movement has quickly spread to
$950, includes an assigned bunk, all                  hundreds of regions around the globe.                                           Sponsored by other organizations
meals, snacks, beverages, plus the                    It involves systematic efforts in local
services of a ranger/naturalist who                                                                         Sat, September 19, Coastal Clean Up               of about 1.5 miles (water at Trail
                                                      communities to adapt to peak oil and
will travel with us to lead hikes on                                                                        Day. Help clean beaches around the                Springs). There are 7 trees down on
                                                      climate change now, to plan ahead
each island and present evening                                                                             County. Sponsored by ECOSLO. See                  the trail between the North Coast
                                                      and make the needed economic,
programs. The proceeds benefit Sierra                                                                       page 6.                                           Ridge Trail and Trail Springs, and
                                                      lifestyle, and cultural changes that
Club’s political programs in Califor-                 will inevitably become necessary. Jim                                                                   many down past Trail Springs. There
nia. To make a reservation mail a                     Cole, Judith Bernstein, and other                     September 26-29, VWA Trail Work                   is also about 1 mile of trail that needs
$100 check payable to Sierra Club to                  local activists will present a                        Trip. Come help us celebrate National             brushing. So our goals will be: 1. Be
leader: Joan Jones Holtz, 11826 The                   PowerPoint program explaining the                     Public Lands Day (Sept. 26) on a                  Safe! 2. Have fun! 3. Use our crosscut
Wye St., El Monte, CA 91732. Con-                     key elements and what is now                          Ventana Wildnerness Alliance Trail                saw skills to clear as many trees off
tact leader for more information: 626-                happening in SLO County. Meets at                     Work Trip! Come for the day, the                  the trail as we can. 4. Clear as much
443-0706;                           Steynberg Gallery, 1531 Monterey St.,                 weekend, or all four days. The air will           brush off the trail as we can using
                                                      SLO. Info: Joe Morris, 772-1875.                      be fresh, the views amazing, and this             loppers and pruning saws. David
                                                                                                            is your chance to have your own                   Knapp will be leading the trip. RSVP
                                                      Fri.-Sun., Sep 25-27, Service and                     Ventana Wilderness Adventure! Bring               to .
                                                      Hiking In The Carrizo Plain. This is                  a friend or just make some new ones!
                                                      an opportunity to visit and to assist                 We’ll meet at 8:30a.m. on Sat., Sept              Sat, October 3, 9am-12pm, Creek
                                                      an outstanding and relatively un-                     26, at the Entrance to Cone Peak                  Cleanup Day · Sites throughout SLO
                                                      known national monument. There                        Road, which is at the Summit of                   County. Consider building a group of
                                                      will be an optional and scenic hike                   Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, between                co-workers, neighbors or friends for a
                                                      high in the Caliente Mountains on                     Kirk Creek Campground and Fort                    team cleanup. Contact Dave Rau at
                                                      Friday. Others may join us for                        Hunter Liggett. We’ll be hiking in                544-9096 ext. 14 to reserve a site or
                                                      National Public Lands Day on                          from the end of Cone Peak road to                 get more info. Sponsored by the Land
                                                      Saturday when we will participate                     Trail Springs camp - a moderate hike              Conservancy of SLO.
                                                      with other volunteers working on

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