As we approach the Father’s Day Car Show this Sunday at Julliard Park, I am reminded of my old pal Bill Magee. Bill had owned a crane business until he sold it several years ago. Fred Stoke will be at the Car Show Sunday and he knew Bill very well. Bill loved cars, and would attend the Car Show regularly.
As I was thinking of my buddy who passed about one year ago, I also thought of his house at the Sonoma Coast. So I am going to write a bit about history thanks to Bill! link for views of homes.
Many of us remember the stretch of Highway 1 out near Gleason Beach in Sonoma County as not being right on a cliff as it is now due to erosion from the Pacific Ocean. There were some 21 homes built on this stretch of Hwy 1 back in the 60’s and 70’s, and not many remain. Despite expensive attempts by homeowners to drill piers, install cable tiebacks, and do extensive erosion control, the relentless beating of the cliffs by the Pacific Ocean has made the cliff move some 30-50’ over the past 35 years or so.
About two years ago, the late – great Bill Magee invited me out to his house that was at the northern end of this cliff side section of Hwy 1. His immediate neighbor to the South of him had their house tagged as uninhabitable and it was slowly (or quickly depending on your perspective) falling into the Ocean. Bill’s house was built on pretty solid rock, so it was holding on to its foundation and Bill was using it as a vacation rental for lucky folks that had a sense of “adventure”. I spent the night out there and remember when a wave hit the cliffs below, you could feel the shaking in the house (solid rock my foot!!). It was beautiful, it was wild, and it was scenic.
Interestingly, Bill Magee showed me some photos of what the cliff line looked like in the 1970’s. The cliff had moved in some places well over 60 feet from erosion. This despite the best efforts of lots of real smart people building seawalls and drilling caissons as well as installing cables and literally tying their houses back to rock anchors they had drilled into the rock. Nothing works forever. I think of the 21 homes out there, only 7 are still there today and probably only 2-3 are safe.
Caltrans has also spent considerable monies on trying to stabilize this section of Hwy 1 over the last few decades. Caltrans apparently has had their fill of trying to “patch and hold” the roadway as there are now plans to move a major section of the Hwy 1 inland to get the road out of harm’s way.
Here are some links to describe what Caltrans has in mind for this stretch of Hwy 1 that is currently down to 1 lane and even that is tenuous. link
Caltrans held a Town Hall meeting recently to hear input from the public and the slides from that meeting are included here for your pleasure– link
And finally, the actual project itself should be fully designed in 2019 and coming out to Bid at some point in the near (neat in Caltrans years is like “dog years”, I know) future. link
So keep your eyes open for this historic project and keep your eyes open for the stretch of history that will soon be lost to the Pacific Ocean. It will look far differently than it does today when we drive that stretch in about 5 years!!
That’s All Folks!
That’s All Folks
Last week the North Bay Business Journal held a great Conference on Construction and Housing. I felt the messaging was so important from that conference, I am using some of the Power Point slides from Peter Rumble of the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber for this edition of my Soapbox. There was too much info to include all aspects in this “Soapbox”. Some of the speakers addressed the high cost of development as part of the reason for our collective inability to build the needed workforce housing in the last twenty years or so.
To illustrate a bit about the importance of the ECA in all of your lives, the ECA is unofficially going to be the sponsoring organization for doing a survey on protected wetlands and endangered species such as the California Tiger Salamander.
It is hoped that the survey being proposed will provide valuable information that would help or enable alternative plans be developed to mitigate habitat costs for the California Tiger Salamander and other endangered and protected plants and species. If we can help to make those costs more reasonable, we effectively are removing part of the impediment to building more affordable workforce housing in Sonoma County.
The Conference started out with Peter Rumble making some points and I have included a few of his points in the following paragraphs:
**California is the 8th largest economy IN THE WORLD! For a single state to make that accurate claim, is “eye popping”. With unemployment at 3% or lower, obviously, this California is still the land of opportunity-right?
Housing and Our Economy
I would “move to another state in order to heighten opportunity to purchase a home” says 63% of Californians in a recent survey.
Peter’s slide on the poll showing 63% of California residents are willing to move due to housing costs should open our eyes to the magnitude of the housing crisis. The inability or unwillingness of California Cities to build enough housing to keep up with expanding businesses is out of control and getting worse. These are not just words. Businesses are now choosing to relocate (which means their current and potential future workforce will not live here) and so are many long-time residents that see the opportunity to “cash in” and retire to a less costly area for their retirement years.
It is not just housing of course, burdensome regulations and difficulty in getting projects from “need” to “idea” to “built” are all contributors. Politically, it seems “left and right” cannot be farther apart but both “left and right” share one common result-they suck at getting the houses built that we need! Even though I wrote this before Dan Walters column, he agrees with me. click here
Peter Rumble’s presentation last week commented:
Change in Perspective
What Republicans want to do with I.C.E. and border walls, wealthy progressive Democrats are doing with zoning and Nimbyism. Preserving “local character,” maintaining “local control,” keeping housing scarce and inaccessible —the goals of both sides are really the same: to keep people out.
-New York Times, May 2019
Whether the New York Times article is too political or not, we must combat Nimbyism, we must combat regulatory “BS”, we must combat politicians who point the finger at the other party rather than accept responsibility for the failure our housing situation is. All of these have led to the housing crisis and all are currently a factor in making it difficult to “build our way out” of the mess we are in.
We must embrace change, and not think of cities and roads as concrete, glass and asphalt. They are flesh and blood, our sons and daughters, our grandchildren, our doctors, our teachers, our soccer coaches-and they all need a place to live! I feel so strongly about this I would recommend to the Board that they task me with writing letters of support for any City in our area of influence that has a housing project being proposed. Unless the project is truly horrible for the site, the ECA should help give local politicians a “soft place to land” by supporting the development.
What do you all think?
That’s All Folks
ECA Newsletter 5-9-19
ECA Newsletter 5-2-19
KUDOS to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors!
Have I gotten mellow in my view of elected officials? It is possible. This Soapbox is going to compliment the existing Supervisors in office in Sonoma County. I know-if I wanted to I could find some things to gripe about, but fair is fair-let’s honestly look at some of the accomplishments the existing five have been able to get some credit for.
I want to start with Shirlee Zane’s unabashed support of building 14 tiny homes for veterans on Russell Avenue. Look-we all know the overall homeless problem is too complex and too varied to have some easy solution. However, in Sonoma County there are several hundred homeless veterans and I personally believe this small “slice” of the big problem is solvable. In 2015 the opportunity for this project was presented and the Supervisors appointed the Community Housing Sonoma County to manage the project. Paula Cook worked tirelessly to get this project built on County owned land. Shirlee Zane supported, cajoled, spoke in favor of, and provided the impetus to get 14 tiny homes built on a small parcel of land on Russell Avenue, just north of the County jail and just south of Kaiser Hospital. To see an article on this, click here—
The location is ironic as it is entirely possible, that without these tiny homes providing safe haven for these guys, they could end up either in the jail, or in the hospital. Instead, they have a tiny home with a roof over their head, neighbors with common interest and shared history, and a door to lock that all combine to instill purpose, hope, security and pride in lives that might otherwise have none of that.
Kudos to Shirlee!
We all know what a traumatic series of events Mother Nature has dumped on our County (and others). No budget could have anticipated and had coverage for the massive commitment of resources the County of Sonoma had to put out to overcome the Tubbs and Nuns fires as well as the floods of the Russian River in 2019. The ability of the County Supervisors to get emergency funding to cover much of those costs is unprecedented. It is a tribute to their relationships with Congressmen Thompson and Huffman, as well as State Senator Mike McGuire, and State Assemblymen Jim Woods and Bill Dodd. Those relationships enabled trust and communication which led to getting emergency funding that might not have been available otherwise. It is a tribute to the character and hard work of all five of our County Supervisors that our Sonoma County budget, although stretched and frayed from the emergencies, has held up and continues to fund public safety, transportation infrastructure, and health and human services to a large extent, as it did before the emergencies.
Kudos to Susan, James, David, Shirlee, and Lynda!
Transportation infrastructure has been addressed by this group of Sonoma County Supervisors for the past 6-7 years in a healthy and productive manner. They all get the benefit of regular maintenance of our roads being good practice to safeguard the underlying structural integrity of our 1384 miles of roads in unincorporated Sonoma County. The plan that was put into action several years ago to repair our roads has so far reconstructed or resurfaced over 500 miles of our County roads. Sonoma County has been spending more General Fund dollars on roads than any other County in California for several years now. To go back to 2017 and the repaving of 170 miles in one season, click on this link from the North Bay Business Journal— link
Despite the pressure the emergencies put on the County Budget from the fires and floods, the County still intends to vote on May 21, 2019 on a planned road improvement funding that has not been reduced. The floods of 2019 caused another $23 million in damage to County roads due to washouts from high water that will get funding separate from the May 21, 2019
Supervisor vote. Emergency funding for those roads damaged in the floods is currently being sought by the Supervisors and I have no doubt they will be successful. Thanks for fixing our roads!
Kudos to David, Lynda, James, Susan and Shirlee for fixing our roads!
The 2020 elections will see Lynda Hopkins, Susan Gorin, and Shirlee Zane run as incumbents for re election to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Slated for ECA Board action on May 21, 2019, will be whether to support and endorse the incumbents or not. This will be a Board decision, not a John decision. If you want to state your opinion on whether we should endorse these incumbents, please let me know and I will share your opinion at that Board meeting.
That’s All Folks!
ECA Newsletter 4-18-19
Let’s Do Our Part
How many times have you been forced to either remove someone from your Facebook friends, or maybe wonder and question a certain person because of what they are posting? The era we are in is one of being judgmental and it seems the entire country has judged and pigeonholed each other into deeply divisive categories.
We see things differently. I think the Mueller report is coming out today or tomorrow, but it won’t end what people think. If you are an anti-Trumper, you believe he colluded and if Mueller did not conclude that, then Mueller is in on the sham as well. If you kind of like some of what Trump does but dislike his style, you probably are quiet on a lot of issues. If you are a supporter of Trump and do not have any tolerance for the seemingly “socialist leaning” Democratic party, you resent the emphasis on Trump’s actions because you want Hillary to be investigated for wiping her servers clean and deleting 33,000 emails.
When we try to have a discussion with someone who thinks differently, we usually wind up frustrating each other and decide to stop the “debate” without really challenging our own beliefs. I know it has happened to me several times, and I am sure you all have experienced it as well.
So what do we do? We need to understand what the issues are. We seemingly cannot rely on newspapers or any media to provide accurate and unbiased factual news anymore. Are we simply going to swear at each other and dig in deeper into our own positions?
I hope not.
I am providing a link to a Northbay Business Journal interview with Brian Sobel, a very experienced political analyst and expert in which he talks about the need for being more civil with each other. To read the interview, click here–
It is my opinion that some college campuses have had their “freedom of speech” attitudes compromised by this deep division in how we view our issues in the good old USA. I can understand why some conservatives are concerned about changing the “Freedom of Speech” we have in this country, to “You are Free to Speak If Your Views Fit Mine” speech attitude. That is not ok. From Antifa to AOC to Pelosi to Trump to Fox News, don’t you think we have taken it to a point where it is going to be hard to get back to a place where we can debate the issues instead of calling each other names and walking away?
Let’s do our part and try-ok?
That’s All Folks