Posts Tagged ‘San Diego’
Laer Pearce & Associates has opened a new office in San Diego, and has promoted Scott Starkey and Ben Boyce to Senior Vice Presidents. Both were previously vice presidents.
“We are very optimistic that under Ben’s leadership, we will become one of the premier public affairs firms in the San Diego market,” said Laer Pearce, president. “Ben is a San Diego native with strong connections in the business community there, and we see a strong desire among our potential San Diego client base to have access to a local firm with our strategic approach and tested capabilities.”
Starkey has been at the Laguna Hills public affairs firm for 12 years. He focuses on communications and outreach programs that help the agency’s homebuilder and land development clients achieve regulatory approvals.
Boyce, who has been with the agency for 11 years, recently opened the firm’s San Diego office. He works with water industry clients to help them realize their public communications goals, and also serves land development clients.
Laer Pearce & Associates specializes in outreach, coalition-building and regulatory communications, and also serves business-to-business clients in the land development and water industries. Its record on public affairs campaigns is 67-4, the best of any public affairs firm in California.
Here’s Laer’s latest column on California’s crazy regulatory environment, which is cross-posted at CalWatchdog.
For a lot of very good reasons, California’s environmental regulators have earned a reputation for being, well, crappy to the rest of us. Three ongoing California regulatory battles over poop reinforce their already well-deserved reputation.
The first battle is between the California Coastal Commission and the city of Morro Bay over the city’s proposed new wastewater treatment plant. The city, called by some the Gibraltar of the Pacific because the massive Morro Rock dominates its harbor, made the terrible mistake of wanting to do the right thing. It, along with the Cayucos Community Services District, wants to replace an aging wastewater treatment plant with a new facility that will clean wastewater to higher levels and produce recycled water.
Less pollution going into the ocean and less fresh water used to water yards seem like good ideas … except to the California Coastal Commission. The Commission’s executive director, Charles Lester, has decided coastal towns should move their unsightly infrastructure away from the coast, to inland locations. There’s one little problem with this idea: It defies gravity.
Sewage treatment plants are located at the low point of local geography – the coast in California – because it’s much cheaper to let the sewage flow by gravity to the plant than it is to pump it uphill to an inland plant. In Morro Bay, the Commission’s staff, on its own, found a site about one mile from the coast it decreed to be the superior location for wastewater treatment. It is recommending the Commission force the city to build the plant there.
If the eco-bureaucrats prevail, they will turn the three-year project into a ten-year one and raise its cost from $60 million to $90 million. They will also saddle Morro Bay’s 10,000 residents with higher bills, since it takes a lot of money – and burns a lot of carbon fuel – to pump sewage uphill. This fact seems to be lost on the Commission’s staff, which claims it wants to move infrastructure off the coast not for aesthetic reasons, but because of sea level rise caused by global warming … which in turn is caused, we’re told, by burning a lot of carbon fuel.
The matter was on the Commission’s October agenda, but staff pulled it when the city pointed out major inaccuracies and flawed assumptions in the staff’s report.
Then there’s the battle over cormorant, pelican and sea gull poop that’s piling up on the rocks in the tony San Diego coastal enclave of La Jolla. Scenic, rocky La Jolla Cove has become an open cesspool, resident Ed Witt told the Union Tribune, adding, “You couldn’t operate a zoo like this.” The problem started when much of La Jolla’s rocky shore was put off limits to humans, encouraging birds to flock to the rocks, relieving themselves with impressive regularity.
So why not just wash off the poop? That would be fine, regulators at the Coastal Commission and San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board say, but only if the city submits a plan describing every detail of how they’ll do it – what methods and materials they’ll use, how they’ll protect the ocean and how they’ll ensure pooping pelicans and cruddy cormorants aren’t bothered.
If the clean-up plan poses any perceived threat to birds or marine life, then the California Department of Fish & Game, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service stand poised to join the battle.
It’s not even possible to create a timeline for reaching a solution to this monumental problem, since the Regional Water Quality Control Board has deemed it a low priority. Residents and business owners, who fear the smell will drive away tourists, disagree.
San Diego’s Regional Water Quality Control Board – which I fought unsuccessfully when it decreed that rainwater becomes toxic the moment it hits the ground – is the cause of the third poop battle as well.
Because it succeeded in defining fallen rain as toxic, the Board now exerts its authority beyond the prior limits of its purview, the gutter, and reaches into people’s yards. This change is reflected in proposed new regulations that would subject homeowners to six years in prison and fines of $100,000 a day if they repeatedly let dog poop sit un-picked up in their own backyards. Similar punishments would be meted out to those who repeatedly allow their sprinklers to hit the pavement and those who wash their car in their driveway.
The Board’s goal is to cut the amount of bacteria in runoff that reaches the ocean. That reminded me of a study conducted some years ago – in Morro Bay, interestingly enough. Scientists collected samples of ocean water and isolated the DNA from fecal coliform found in it to trace its source. They found it to be overwhelmingly not pet or human in origin, but the DNA of coyotes, rabbits, deer, seals, sea birds and fish.
What will California’s regulators come up with next? Diapers for dolphins?
Last Thursday, some poor sap in Yuma flipped a switch and the power went out for millions of Southern Californians. Water systems, which of course are heavily reliant on power, got through the crisis in pretty good shape thanks to lots of emergency drills – although several water districts had to issue notices to their customers warning them to boil their water before drinking it. That, too, passed.
All this made us think: How do you alert people to a crisis when their TVs, radios and computers are down? On our water Twitter feed, @LPAWater, we tweeted the following answer:
Tweet #2: … posted notices, sound trucks, Facebook, police/fire liaison + the usual. Crisis calls for creative solutions.
For more on Laer Pearce & Associates creative solutions to crisis situations, check this out.
What were the three biggest California water stories of the past seven days? Well, the news-heads and policy wonks here at Laer Pearce & Associates have compiled them for you here. You’ll find the Big Three here every Thursday, or you can follow LPAWater on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and analysis. You can also sign up to receive the Weekly 3 via email here. This week:
After fighting proposed ocean desalination in Carlsbad and Huntington Beach for a couple centuries (well, it feels like that even if it’s only been a decade or so), environmentalists were shocked that the San Diego County Water Authority might buy water from a desal plant proposed at a Rosarito Beach power plant just across the border from thirsty San Diego. Calling the proposed plant a “trans-boundary scam,” one opponent whined, “It’s absolutely unethical!” And abusing the courts with one losing claim after another to stop Poseidon’s plants is ethical?
Read the environmentalists’ lament here
Here’s a longer, more objective piece from Voice of San Diego