I’m a candidate for the OCWD #6

Yesterday I filled out my initial filings to become a candidate for the Orange County Water District, to represent Huntington Beach. I’m running because the deal the board has negotiated with Poseidon is one of the worst examples I’ve seen of CRONY capitalism.

But just as I don’t blame the unions for the unfunded liabilities causes by the massive pension giveaway, I don’t blame Poseidon. They are a private company that is out the make the most profit for their stockholders as possible. It’s up to our representatives to negotiate a better deal, not them.

And as with the Pacific City deal, and the recently signed deal to improve the Edison site, Hunting Beach gets 0 dollars. What we do get is two years of our streets being ripped up, a foreign company to run the plant, an  increase in our water rates and a possibility of our ocean and our water basin being damaged.

In the next weeks and months I will be detailing the problems with this deal and some possible ways, If I’ m elected, that could make it a lot better. My background includes, being a software engineer/ application developer, CEO for the last 45 years. You can find more information about me on LINKEDIN if you desire.  I will be putting up either a Facebook group or a website soon.

I’m a surfer who has lived in this city since I came out here in 1972. I was appointed to the General Planning Advisory board last year by Erik Peterson. There I got a firsthand look at how our tax dollars are foolishly spend. But even that, is nothing compared to the waste I’ve seen at the OCWD District.

Hopefully with your support we can turn this around. The Contract with Poseidon has a escape clause in it of Dec 31st, 2016. And since they have not received their Costal Permit and another permit we still have a glimmer of hope. Thanks, and enjoy the contest and the ocean, I was in today, a little foggy and colder but always fun.

Clem Dominguez

hbclem@yahoo.com

Planning Study Session for Pacific City’s request for parking variance 01/27/2015

Last night’s meeting had one agenda item, a request for a variance to eliminate 147 parking spaces from the planned 516 Apartment unit complex at Pacific City.  The developer believes that since they changed the configuration of the units from what they were previous that they should be able to develop the project with that many fewer spaces.

If the planning commission agrees with their calculations then they would not require a variance as I understand it. Michael Hoskinson  asked a number of questions about the calculations and public parking in the commercial end etc. There were a few other questions from other commissioners but I can’t recall what they were.

Four or five speakers for the developer spoke and gave there pitch as to why they should be required to build the spaces and that they were not asking for any special treatment.   Ron Sherud, Rob Pool and I spoke all for denying the variance. Many of our pointes were similar. It’s the acknowledgesment of what will happen if Pacific City is not adequately parked. The surrounds streets from 1st, on up through Huntington etc. will be badly impacted.

I thought Cari Swan made some of the best points of the night. The one I really liked is that these apartments no matter how much they provide will not be enough. The summer in HB has the Four of July, surfing contest and all sorts of events that those people living there will be flooded with guest requests. To say nothing of how any people will try to squeeze into the apartments because of the location and the high price. She pointed because of these events and contests Hunting Beach cannot be compared to any other Coastal City.  This was one of the arguments from the development side.

A couple that lives at Bella Terra spoke about what a mess the parking situation was. I thought this gave a real live example of what happens without proper parking. They went on about how they are always fighting with security guards that chalk their tires. Any many people have been towed away.

After the speakers one of the representatives from the developer tried to answer some of the comments with the developer response. What was telling to me was the engineer that said the parking/traffic study was done in Oct. but they added 10 or 20% to it to account for the additional autos in the summer.  I think 100 or 200% more would have been more accurate.

I didn’t stay until the end but I understand they did not vote, they will come in two weeks, I think.

Clem Dominguez

Recap – Ground Water Replenishment Facility – Fountain Valley Jan 9 th.

The tour is given the first Friday of every month.  The plant converts waste and separates the water from it in three steps. The first step is a micro filtering process.  The filters only allow for water molecules to pass through.  The next step is RO reverse osmosis, which I cannot explain very well so I’ll leave that alone.  The third and final step is a combination of ultra violet rays and hydrogen peroxide.

The result is we produce 70 million gallons a day of clean water. This water is then pumped back into our ground water basin which OCMW manages.  The basin includes a number of cities, of which Anaheim consumes the most water.  The chart went over storage facilities including the Dams and storage facilities upstream.

The first part of the tour consisted of a presentation by Becky Mudd, tour coordinator.    She did a little survey of attendee’s age range and other information. Then she went over in detail where we get our water from and the layout of the ground water basin.  Many questions were asked and answered during the presentation.

The presentation lasted more than an hour.  Some of the things that struck me are that this plant was the first of its kind to be built in the world.  The plant produces 70 million gallons water a day. There will be two expansions in the next ten years that will bring that number to 130 million gallons a day.

The cost to initially build the plant was $481 million and was financed half by the water district and half by matching funds that came from the Feds and State. The engineering firm that build the Plant was I believe J.F. Shay, I will verify that.

I still don’t understand the wells HB has drilled into the aquifers, which are layers or water and shale (or something).  Also didn’t understand the some other details, so I will be touring the plant again to get some of those details filled in. Some other tidbits of information were:

  1. Much of the water up North is used by farming and vineyards.
  2. We use 20% of all energy in California pushing water around the state, especially with the aqueducts.
  3. South County uses mostly imported water, which is the most expensive.
  4. The Governor emergency response to our Drought was to cut off all but 5% of the water we get from up north. There was a lot of question about this and I’m still not sure I felt comfortable with the answers.
  5. We store a lot of water from the Pravda Dam.

After about an hour we put out hard hats on and toured the facility. We went through each station of the process that I explained in the first paragraph.  It basically a series of pipes that push and pull (I guess) water through filers, backwash water that cleans filers and then deposits of waste which goes back to the sanitation district for final process.

The plant itself is run by 61 Employees with some in four shifts.  From the naked eye it appears the plant runs itself but there is a lot of testing of water, maintenance or filters and what else I’m not sure of.  I was stick by how clean the plant was and some of the details on what filters they chose when the plant was being build. For instance they decided to go with vendors from Germany and Australia rather than American Vendors because they had a better product.

The person who gave the tour was Becky Mudd, bmudd@ocwd,com, as I said. She said I could ask questions and she would get the answers as best she could. One of the topics we talked about was Fracking which is being doe in Brea, and what risks were involved. She said she could get answers from the Geolisgst on staff by just emailing her. This is a great educational tour and I hope everyone that can will take it. It’s around the corner from us so we should take it in.

The question I had after the tour was given is why we need Poseidon to build a Desalination plant, the engineering firm that built this plant I’m sure could build a Desalination Plant. This plant was an innovative first time endeavor whereas Desalination is old technology so I doubt they would have much problems duplicating what Poseidon would do.

In addition I think it would be easier for the OCWD to manage both plants and save a lot of our money.  They also should be able to distribute the water in the most efficient way since they manage the whole process now. Plus we would get to use our own good credit and not be taking the chance of an outside company hurting it.

I would also feel more comfortable that if the OCWD ran the plant maintenance would be done in a timely manner, regardless of cost of filters etc. which are very expensive.  Would a private firm hedge (no pun emended) a bit on changing filters and other maintenance to increase their bottom line?  Especially if the price they charge for water is fixed.

Another question is if instead of a Desal plant it wouldn’t be better to build these ground water replenishment plants up and down the coast. They cost less to build., create more water and are more environmentally friendly. They not only create a water source they recycle our waste. And from what Becky said they use far less energy than a Desal Plant does. In the end who would you trust the OCWD that has already produced 147,410,434,800 Gallons or water or the Company that has yet to produce any.

Link to OCWD Ground Water Replenishment website

.Clem Dominguez

Recap of OCWD Meeting Jan. 7 th on negotiations with Poseidon

I attended the meeting about starting to negotiate a term sheet with Poseidon and setting up a citizen’s advisory committee.  The place filled up fast and it was soon a group outside the lobby.  Councilwoman Deglaze was there and spoke in support of the project. Lynn Semeta was also there and heard Billy O’Connell was there but I didn’t see him.

The board has some back and forth about some issues unrelated and then moved on to Item 7.  One guy spoke about six checks that were written and multiple invoices from the same Vendor. I believe the board said they would will look into it.

Then a presentation was done by whom, I don’t know. But it went over in detail how the contract negotiation should go. They want to have term sheet in place to start negotiating the whole contract in the middle of March.

After the presentation some on the board questioned the timing of bringing the Advisory Committee in place before they have anything to work with.  One board member was pretty adamant that he feared the committee would turn into a mini board.

I’d say the first 12-15 speakers all supported Poseidon. A State Senator, Council people, developers, other water districts exec and our chamber of commerce.  There were also three students from Irvine, all in support.  Most of the supporters said the same thing that “we need the water” and it creates jobs etc.

Merle was the first one to speak out against Poseidon. She spend the first minute asking the board why and how 24 speakers could all be in support go ahead of her.. She was there right at the beginning of the meeting as I was.  We both were first or second to bring our forms to speak up, so it was odd all the supporters went first. Merle brought up that Poseidon had not gotten final permits applied yet and other issues.

Talking to some others I learned that the AES plant, when they convert, will no longer be water cooled but air cooled. The Coastal Commission is working with Poseidon to see how this will affect the plant.

My speech was that we should wait until Carlsbad was completed. Since Posideon had never build a plant of this size and run it successfully it was the only way we would  know true costs and the environmental impact.  And after all is said and done we are only going to wind up with 8% of our water needs.  We could accomplish this by easily in other ways.

I also argued we should not being negotiating in dought conditions. I gave an example of Santa Barbra which build a plant for $34 million and mothballed the plant four months after it went online.  Lastly I mentioned that even the Desal  Community is waiting on Carlsbad,  so should we.

Had to leave but I saw a post that other speakers echoed my thoughts on waiting for Carlsbad to be completed. I think that’s a reasonable position. I would assume that the board approved the item and will begin negotiations. The questions they were asking the person giving the presentations indicted to me that this was done deal. Not one person on the board asked if we were going to approve this or not.

Clem Dominguez

Recap on Planning Commisson Study session 12/9/2014 pertaining to demolishing 122-124 Main st.

Most of the meeting was devoted to a staff presentation on the shared parking concept which was started in 1992-1993. It was instigated to allow projects to be approved even though their individual projects would not meet parking requirements.  It was passed around the same time as the “Village Concept” which promoted people living downtown in mixed use projects.

Then the staff went over the in lieu parking fee program which started charging approx. $6000 per parking space when it first began. The charge for a developer is now $26, 750 per parking space. The in lieu parking program has $970,000 in its account. So far it has spent some money on the bus that goes down main street and $500K to buy 25 parking spaces at the strand.  I find this LOL funny as we gave up 231 spaces when the Strand was approved and we are now paying $25k a space to get them back

According to staff a report by an outside Consultant, the Walker report, determined that we had enough parking but it was not being utilized. Staff acknowledged that the signage is not very good and many people do not know it where the parking is available, they hope to correct that. Building another parking structure is also another possibility.

Lyn Semeta asked for more detail of what we intend to do with the current in lieu fees for. Staff answered that they may buy more spaces from the Strand and also put money into cleaning up and painting the parking structure. Dan Klamick how the permit parking plan passed for 7, 8, 9 street would affect the parking situation. Michael Hoskinson asked about the effect of Pacific City coming on line and perhaps parking could be shared or some people may use the facilities downtown.

After the discussion on the in lieu parking fee program they around to talking about the project to build a 9600 sq. foot building of mixed use where 122-124 main street now are (Waco’s and next store). There was a lot of discussion about whether to save the façade and move the project back to the same setbacks as the neighboring buildings. This would give more walking space for the public.  Ron Troxell brought up the setback issue with the new building, but I don’t believe it was ever thoroughly answered.  I did not attend the Planning meeting after the study session so do not know much about who voted for or against the project or the other questions that were answered during their discussions.

Besides the excellent presentation on the Parking programs, which came about because Lyn’s question the previous study sessions, I learned a few other things.  The Walker report and or staff say that only 34 days out of the year at certain times the parking downtown is inadequate.  It would be nice to know what the criteria for that statement is. Also it would helpful to find out how exactly how the Strand determines which aces are allocated to the public and which are not.  And if we have adequate parking 331 days a year why did we spend $500K to add 25 more spaces.

Anyway it was a good meeting attended by more people than I normally see at a study sessions and as I said the staff report on our parking program was very well done. I’m sure I left out a lot but at least this gives you an idea on what went on.

Clem Dominguez

Recap of Planning Commission study session held Nov. 25, 2014

This study session was all about the application from the owner/owners of 122-124 Main Street. They want to replace the two building with a 9600 Sq foot, three story building. The lower floor being retail and other floors residential, I think.

The recently elected Councilmen Eric Peterson chaired, this the last meeting of this planning commission.  Someone from the planning department let off with the descriptions of all the required Government things that had to be done in government speak. Requests for this, mitigation, EIR, permit etc. . . .

After she concluded her remarks Lyn Semeta asked a number of very good questions on the Park in Lieu fees. How much do have in that account and what are we going to use it for. The planning people said they would supply that information later.  There was reference to the historical significance of the building and what steps the historical people would be taking related to this (vague I know).

There were other questions asked but the one commissioner that asked the best questions I thought was Dan Kalmick.  He asked some pointed questions about the measurements between builds, the setbacks etc.  After all questions were answered or responded to Erick and all the planning members said thank you everybody and said farewells.

Before the meeting concluded a couple public comments were made. One by a gentlemen who questioned when all the density started and who was responsible for it. Then Cari Swan gave a very impassioned speech on how this density issue has people really upset and we intend to continue to ask for remedies (Para phrased a lot).

Then Ron Troxell asked what I thought was the best observation of the night. He looked at the plans for the parking and concluded it would be almost impossible to park with the way the parking was configured. He also mentioned this is the same for many of the garages in downtown; they are too hard to park in and get out of and are mostly used for storage.

Maybe we should look at getting rid of the Parking in Lieu program downtown along we the shared parking concept. I think a project ought to meet the parking requirements or be scaled down to meet them. Right now we seem to change the rules to meet the project rather than the other way around. .

The city should not even take this money from the applicant if they have no intention of using it for parking related actions, it’s dishonest.  If we own the parking garage we should use these funds for a new paint job and better lighting fixtures etc.  Another way to use these funds is to acquire vacant property like old towing company lot’s and use that for parking.

Clem Dominguez

Bike Safety Committe meeting Nov. 24, 2014

I attended a meeting last night at City hall of the bike safety committee. It was partly on how we did as a city to be rated a Bronze category for safety and what steps were necessary to get to the next level.  I didn’t know most of the people there; I’d say maybe 10-15 showed up. Michael Hoskinson and Frank LoGrasso were there from the HBCF, the HB planning manager, Devin Dyer, Councilwoman Jill Hardy and some others.

The moderator or chair of the meeting went over the problem they have trying to get schools to commit to a bike safety program.  Very few schools have the funds or time it was said by someone. Councilwomen Hardy said she would continue to try to get the schools to cooperate.  Apparently the HBPD is not involved as much as it used to be in giving Safety classes etc.

The chair then introduced Long Beach’s Mobility coordinator Allan Crawford   who helped get a shared lane painted green on Second Street in Long Beach. He explained how it was done first as an experiment and without any input form the community. Crawford seemed to think that was okay I guess because he feels the experiment was successful. That bothered me somewhat as well as his dismissal of the cost which I believe was $500K or something like that. He also went over ways and pitfalls in getting Federal funding for programs like the one they implemented.

He did elaborate on how, in his opinion, there are fewer bike accidents and car accidents and now this area where a bike has the whole car lane. He said business has picked up in this district they painted an arrow on the road.  Crawford acknowledged that the special lane did slow up traffic but felt it was not by that much.

Michael pointed out that you could never get a program like this implemented in HB without HB resident input. He feels that the city should focus on the safety aspects of the Bike master plan and leave infrastructure alone. Frank mentioned that we have miles and miles of bike paths with almost no one them. There was a little back and forth about bikers having the same rights as cars. And of course someone pointing out that the car always wins in the end.

But all and all it was interesting meeting as bike safety is becoming a bigger issue and our city is getting denser. People can’t expect the same degree of safety as ten or twenty years ago. More cars and more bikes and add in more people and you always have more accidents.

Unfortunately while some people are looking into how to have better bike safety the city allows more accelerated growth which is what is causing the safety problem.

Clem Dominguez

Profit and Loss Statement for HB Sports Complex

Please click on the link to see the P&L for the Sports Complex. Take special note of the $1.6 million dollar bond we have 17 more years to pay on.

12-13 Sports Complex

Clem Dominguez

Economic Development Trends & Conditions HB General Plan Update – Oct 15, 2014

Econ-Market-Trends_-HB-GPAC-Presentation_10-15-2014_V2 –

The meeting was held at the HB Library in the Balboa Room. In attendance were a number of people from the planning department, 3-5 and a sub consultant from PCM. I guess PCM outsources their work also. There was two building developers, the president of the HB bid and a couple other people I didn’t recognize.  I and two others were from the public. There was no notice of the meeting on the HB city site or anywhere else that I could see.  I happened to stumble upon it while going to their website.

The meeting started with one of the planning managers going over what the General plan was and the goals and where we were going with it. Then an outside consultant or sub consultant to PCM, the group with the $2,000,000 dollar contract, gave a presentation on Economic Development in HB in the next 25 years. The person giving the presentation was very knowledgeable, I think his name was Steve.  He sounded like he had done a number of these studies with Pasadena and other cities.

While I feel the presentation was very well done, some of the assumptions that were made I disagree with. To start off with all in attendance were in agreement that  high density was fine. Only one person on the panel mentioned traffic congestion at the Bella Terra, for about 5 seconds, for example.

So it should not surprise anyone that what they talked about was making HB much more citified. They have picked about 9-10 location in HB to revitalize or change to their idea of what the property should be used for.  This is in addition to the Bella Terra and all projects in process.  The ones I can remember are:

  1. Near Boeing they want to revitalize and put some office buildings next to Freeways. Boeing also has some excess land that could be developed if they decide to sell it.
  2. Peters Landing would be a shopping center that they would like to get busier. They felt it was under performing. Compared to other shopping centers I suppose. They feel that few people even know there is a Marina there, so they would like to change that and also bring in an Anchor store. .
  3. Sunset Beach – Some advocated that they would like some of those older structures redone or replaced. Just spruced it up, but they intend to take a bit by bit approach. I remember laughing when they annexed Sunset Beach. The City Council said they were going to leave it alone. I believe there is already a Specific Plan in the works for Sunset Beach, watch out people.
  4. The Charter Center was talked about as to what could be done to help it prosper more or just do something with it, they weren’t too sure what. Apparently there is a lot of deferred maintenance there.
  5. The new Pacific City was topic of a lot of discussion. While they all were happy with it coming on line, there is concern on its effect on the Downtown businesses. There main concern is that guests from the Hyatt and Hilton would go to restaurants at Pacific City and bars and then probably go home, not go downtown to shop more. What to do about it they weren’t sure. Some ideas came up about rerouting some roads or using trams etc.
  6. The Gothard Corridor was talked about quite a lot. It’s something about the mishmash of different types of businesses that bothers planners. I guess they feel each area should be a certain way. If it’s industrial it’s only industrial. Gothard has numerous types of businesses. A Boxing club, a landscaping company, small offices, consignment shops and at the end a few auto repair places. Somehow they want to get some residential there for some reason.
  7. Beach Blvd. – What they envision is small pockets of High Density projects like what we’re seeing at Ellis-Beach and Beach – Adams. They see little future in the small strip shopping centers and would rather see them replaced with Mixed Retail-Apartments.
  8. Southeast HB is pretty safe as most tracts are older and there just isn’t space to build. There was a developer who talked about revitalizing 10 acres or so or closed schools. There was some talk about why office buildings are not a good fit for the area. Mostly because it’s too far from the freeway. Zero discussion of effects of Poseidon possibly going in.
  9. Five Points – They want to do something there, not sure what. I heard that they were going to take that one light out right near Denny’s to help move traffic along. I heard this from someone else, not at this meeting.
  10. Medical Business, Hospitals etc. They want to attract more of them to localize jobs more. Interesting statistic that about the same number of people commute in to HB as do out. That was talked about in the context of jobs and whether or not it was that helpful to bring more in.
  11. Technology Centers – They want to bring some tech companies maybe near Gothard and talked about attracting more or them here. Someone brought up lack of WF internet, but I felt that there should have had a lot more discussion on that point. You could have the best location for a company but without good internet infrastructure no one would move there. \
  12. The Cap on units came up as to how many and how long. They didn’t dwell on it, I was a little surprised. That’s the “H” item that caps the number of unit build until more traffic studies are done. The only problem is all the studies come back the way the planning department and project owner wants. These consultants are all from the same pool of companies that all think the same, they never think there is a traffic problem. Or if they think so they keep it to themselves so they get future projects to rubberstamp.
  13. Toward the end of the meeting the group talked a little about mass transit. High speed buses that are timed to go through traffic lights seemed to get a lot of attention. There is no way now to connect to Irvine or Santa Ana so for now no light rail.

All in all it was the most interesting meeting I’ve attended concerning the General Planning Update. But it shows that the people that are really in charge of the future direction of HB have already decided what they want HB to look like. At one of the meeting GPAC members were polled and Economic Development came in first.  It didn’t matter that the GPAC members were mostly from the planning commissioners, builders, consultants but few or no cross section of residents.

From that first slanted poll they concluded that their directive was to bring in more revenue into HB as their #1 priority. This justifies getting more business no matter what, regardless of whether or not it creates more traffic or small business have to move.  It’s not sinister plot it’s just what they do. I’m a software developer so I know where they’re coming from.  It’s a lot more fun to plan a city than do probably otherwise boring redundant work.

Around the sixth page of the full presentations is a page with Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. One reads “auto dependency viewed as major long-term constraint on economic growth”.   My question is viewed by whom?

The planning department and their outside consultants are deciding what HB gets to be in 25 years. The deck is stacked against the residents, as is usually the case, because they make the rules. And they make the rules so hard to understand that the public just ignores what’s going on. We need to decide where we want to go as a city, not be led to a predetermined outcome.

I feel the new City Council needs to take a much larger role in instructing the planning department where they want to go with this. I would like to see the General Plan update be put on the ballot in 2016 or before. The residents need to be able to say whether Sustainable Development and everything it implies is what the residents want.  Do we want urbanization or not, the decisions should be up to us, not fifteen people from the planning department and their consultants that work for them.

Clem Dominguez

Review of Hazardous Materials Element of the General Plan

Hazardous Materials Element of the General Plan This is an optional element and not mandated by the state. It starts off with the paragraph of how and when it came about. It’s only 12 pages, so one of the smaller elements.

It starts off by saying who needs a permit from the Orange county health department. There are also disclosures that must be made to the Fire department depending upon how much Hazard’s waste you’re disposing.  It then goes into small scape and large operations and how they must dispose of the waste.  Next it goes into how the waste should be transported.

There is a map of all the companies and hospitals that dispose of the waste and where they are.

The rest of the report is Goals and objectives, like ensuring safe transportation and better permiting process etc. This is the same format as the other two elements I’ve summarized. It appears being they’re similar that they were done in-house as I see no signatures or evidence of another compant doing it.

hazardous_materials_element

Clem Dominguez   Oct 4, 2014