GrokSurf's San Diego

Local observations on water, environment, technology, law & politics

Archive for the ‘Commerce’ Category

Preview: City of San Diego 2010 Urban Water Management Plan

Posted by George J Janczyn on May 12, 2011

As part of its long-range water resources planning activities, the City of San Diego, like other large water agencies, is required to adopt and submit an Urban Water Management Plan to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) every five years. Here’s the 2005 version. The new 2010 plan was originally due by December 31, 2010 but a six-month extension was given and the July 1 deadline is now approaching.

Until recently, where public comment on the draft 2010 plan is concerned, the Public Utilities Department (PUD) kept a fairly tight rein on it (but you can get a copy below).

Last month PUD announced the planned publication of the 2010 plan at an Independent Rates Oversight Committee (IROC) subcommittee meeting and the Natural Resources and Culture (NR&C) Committee by offering a brief PowerPoint summary about it.

For the upcoming May 18 NR&C meeting the agenda packet includes a shortened PowerPoint summary but not the full draft plan. The committee will be asked to approve the plan and forward it to the full city council.

The only complete public copy of the draft (so far, that I know of) was just distributed yesterday to the IROC mailing list with its May 16 meeting agenda packet. Here’s a portion from the section discussing public involvement:

“The Plan was presented at public meetings to the Independent Rates Oversight Committee (IROC) Environmental and Technical Committee on April 11, 2011 and the San Diego City Council’s Natural Resources and Culture Committee (NR&C) on April 20, 2011. These public meetings included a discussion of the Plan including the per capita water demand targets. The draft Plan was presented to IROC on______ and to NR&C on _______. The Plan was presented at a public hearing before the San Diego City Council at one of its regularly scheduled meetings on_______, where it was approved for adoption. A notice of the public hearing was provided to all cities within San Diego County and to the County of San Diego 60-days before the hearing. Public hearing notifications were published and copies of the Plan were made available for public inspection at the City’s office and on the web site two weeks before the public hearing. Copies of the 60-day notification, published public hearing notification and adoption resolution are included in Appendix A. The Plan will be submitted to DWR, the California State Library and San Diego County within 30 days after adoption. The Plan will be available for public review on the City’s web site within 30 days after filing a copy of the Plan with DWR. The City shall implement the adopted Plan in accordance with the schedule described in this Plan.” [from Section 1.6]

From the looks of it, that was the original idea, anyway. If you read it carefully, the draft plan wasn’t shown or distributed at the April IROC and NR&C meetings, it was simply announced with PowerPoint slideshow handouts. The blank dates for the draft plan apparently will be filled in with the May 18 IROC and May 20 NR&C meetings, although only IROC’s agenda packet actually includes the draft plan [note–see update below]. Presumably broader public access to and ability to comment on the draft plan will be possible once it is docketed for the City Council meeting.

Councilmember Sherri Lightner should be interested since she lately expressed the wish to develop a new water policy for San Diego.

The draft management plan emailed to IROC was sent in three parts; you can view it here:

Update: I sent email to the NR&C Committee Consultant regarding the absence of the full plan from the May 18 agenda packet and he arranged to add it. It’s now there, here’s the direct link: http://docs.sandiego.gov/councilcomm_agendas_attach/2011/NRC_110518_2b.pdf

I should also note that on May 16 I received an email message from Eric Symons, Supervising Public Information Officer for the Public Utilities Department, in which he said: “There was no intent on the part of the City to keep a “tight rein” on the UWMP. The Draft 2010 UWMP was inadvertently excluded from the Documents Available for Download section of the NR&C website on Wednesday when other supporting documents appeared.”

______________________________

In contrasting related news, the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) announced on May 9 that it is seeking public comment on its draft 2010 Urban Water Management Plan for San Diego County. The draft can be viewed at SDCWA’s website. Comments on the draft will be accepted through June 6.

 

Posted in Commerce, Land use, Water | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Water Authority Board to pursue terms for water purchase agreement with Poseidon Resources

Posted by George J Janczyn on June 24, 2010

[News release – San Diego County Water Authority, June 24, 2010]

After weighing a number of options designed to ensure the successful construction of the nation’s largest seawater desalination plant, the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors today directed the agency’s staff to return to its July 22 meeting with draft terms and conditions for purchasing water directly from the Carlsbad Desalination Project, currently being developed by Poseidon Resources.

The board’s direction followed a presentation and discussion of three recommended options for the Water Authority’s financial participation in the privately-owned seawater desalination plant. Other options considered by the board included Water Authority grants and loans to nine member agencies that contracted to purchase water from the project.

“The Board decided that the direct-purchase option provided the greatest likelihood the project will be built, and because it ensures all member agencies share equally in the cost and benefits of this reliable local water supply,” said Claude A. “Bud” Lewis, chair of the Water Authority Board of Directors. “Direct purchase by the Water Authority is also the most fiscally responsible option to support the completion of this important regional project.”

Under the option selected by the board, the Water Authority would become the direct purchaser of the plant’s desalinated seawater and then sell it to its member agencies. Poseidon and nine local water agencies, collectively known as the Desal Partners, would then terminate their current water purchase agreements. The Desal Partners are Carlsbad Municipal Water District, the city of Oceanside, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, Rincon del Diablo Water District, Rainbow Municipal Water District, Santa Fe Irrigation District, Sweetwater Authority, Valley Center Municipal Water District and Vallecitos Water District.

The Carlsbad Desalination Project is a fully permitted, 50 million-gallon-per-day seawater desalination project located at the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad. In 2020, the project is projected to account for 8 percent of the region’s total water supply.

(See also: Poseidon Resources news release)

Reactions in the news (will add more if they appear):

County Water Authority to explore doing desalination deal / North County Times

S.D. Water Authority votes for desalination / SignOnSanDiego

Related: Poseidon may get subsidy for Calif. plant / Stamford Advocate

[Added 6/25] What would Jesus do? (about the Carlsbad Desalination Project) / NCTimes.com Blogs

Early reactions from local tweeps (without their names):

“Expensive desalination right to your front door, only 3x the cost of current supplies!”

“Truth? SDDT claims the $500M plant only $170M. Difference must be Poseidon’s profit.”

“Your water agency wants you to pay more for water. I don’t get it.”

“Wouldn’t it be awkward for SDCWA to buy Poseidon’s water AND guarantee their MWD subsidy?”

Posted in Commerce, Poseidon Desalination Plant (Carlsbad), San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), Water, Water desalination | Leave a Comment »

Legoland water park opens the faucet

Posted by George J Janczyn on June 1, 2010

In what seems to me remarkably quick turnaround time from proposal to opening, the Legoland Water Park opened in time for Memorial Day. The more than five-acre water attraction within Legoland includes seven water slides.

The application for the water park was made October 29, 2009 and approved by the Carlsbad Planning Department on January 28, 2010, according to Van Lynch, senior planner for the City of Carlsbad. He added that the City of Carlsbad has permit authority to issue Coastal Development Permits in the Legoland area

All water used for attractions that involve body contact will be potable water purchased from the Carlsbad Municipal Water District, which gets its water from San Diego County Water Authority, although new landscaping will likely use recycled water which is already used for other park landscaping, I was told by Glenn Pruim, Carlsbad’s Director of Utilities.

Potable water usage for the new water attractions looks to be well over 3 1/2 million gallons per year, according to this chart from the project proposal (note the daily evaporation/bather carryout column):

 

Posted in Commerce, Water | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Tapped–The Movie

Posted by George J Janczyn on April 13, 2010

Water in plastic, or plastic in water, it’s all in Tapped, a movie that critically examines the production, transportation, and disposal issues with bottled water, with a close look at the health hazards of the plastic bottles as well as the amount of energy and water consumed by the industry.

While not directly related, plastic water bottles is a timely topic to cross paths with the latest news about the lawsuit against the Fiji Water billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick (not regarding bottled water, but for allegedly selling water from their holdings in a manner that violated state utilities laws) and a ban on single-use plastic carryout bags being discussed in the state legislature.

Of course, if we’re going to consider the issue seriously, we shouldn’t forget the Gatorades and other beverages consumed from plastic bottles.

 

Posted in Commerce, Environment, Videos, Water | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

San Diego encourages development with corporate water discounts

Posted by George J Janczyn on March 30, 2010

Like newspapers facing economic facts, San Diego is facing water facts.

For years now, the news industry has searched for a way to profit (or survive) in the digital environment created by the Internet and still be able to produce high-quality journalism. The financial model that sustained print-only newspapers no longer works today.

Clay Shirky, a well-known analyst on the problem, worries that newspapers are irreplaceable for accountability journalism and hopes they’ll continue performing that function on the Internet but he doesn’t think they’ll ever be able to return to the old model they enjoyed. He doubts that fee-based news (“paywalls”) will work except possibly in certain specialized areas where information is jealously guarded, such as finance. Rather than continue searching for a way to replicate their economic model in a digital age, he says, newspapers need to adapt to the ways of the web by finding a new balance through “vast and varied experimentation” (see his insightful presentation “Internet Issues Facing Newspapers” at Harvard’s Kennedy School). Others have cited organizations such as ProPublica and Voice of San Diego as examples of worthwhile efforts to produce high-quality journalism in the new environment.

Similarly, our relationship with water is changing. Our old assumptions are being challenged. It is becoming more and more obvious that our supply of water has a definite limit in general and also that for whatever reason (e.g., climate change, Delta environmental issues), our supply of imported water could well be reduced in the future.

Certainly we’ve responded in many ways. We’ve negotiated agreements to buy additional water from farmers and others, we’ve increased voluntary conservation, we’re looking at possible new groundwater resources, we’re considering (sort of) using prices to influence water use, we’re recycling, we’re exploring Indirect Potable Reuse, we’re installing a desalination plant, we’re enlarging the San Vicente Dam. Despite these measures, as long as there is unrestrained growth in our demand for this finite resource we obviously can’t expect a good outcome. And growth is one thing we haven’t dealt with sufficiently in response to the situation.

San Diego’s pro-development position on growth has only softened somewhat. The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) projects that the region will have 1.2 million additional residents, for a total population of 4.4 million by the year 2050.

In January 2010, SANDAG’s website had a Housing section listed on their sidebar, where they stated that “SANDAG is working to eliminate barriers to development…[which] may include complex development entitlement and permitting processes, construction defect litigation, and development standards that do not reflect the goal of providing more housing.”

Web page in Jan 2010. Note the Housing sidebar includes Funding and Incentives.

Their tone has changed somewhat now. That housing sidebar of their website is now incorporated in their Land Use and Regional Growth page, and the above quotation no longer appears. Instead, they say they’ll work to “manage our population growth, preserve our environment, and sustain our economic prosperity.”

Housing sidebar is now under Land Use along with Sustainable Communities and other like headings

And in a rare departure from its pro-development endeavors, SANDAG recently denied a permit for a proposed 2,632-unit housing development in the North County. Water availability was just one consideration for that decision, but we’ll need more actions like that in the future.

The City of San Diego has worked to increase its water independence and reduce consumption, although it still gives businesses special programs and discounts.

The Guaranteed Water For Industry Program enables some water customers to become “exempt” from potential mandatory water conservation measures adopted by the City. After certification, such firms are placed on a list of preferred customers who will not be forced to reduce their consumption of potable or reclaimed water during a drought (“water warning”) situation. It applies to all industrial firms located in an “Optimized Zone” which currently includes the communities of University, Mira Mesa, Scripps Miramar Ranch, and Miramar Ranch North.

* Provides a guaranteed supply of potable and reclaimed water for irrigation, cooling, research, product development, and production activities during drought conditions.

* Provides ongoing cost savings to businesses through discounted rates for reclaimed water usage (.80/HCF, currently a 50 percent discount).

There’s also a Business & Industry Incentive Program. In order to “improve the business climate of the city,” this program gives businesses a 40 percent reduction in water capacity fees and a 60 percent reduction in sewer capacity fees (Council Policy 900-12).

Both of these programs are ripe for reconsideration in view of the growth problems we’re facing.

April 16 update: Since publishing this story, I was told by a representative from the San Diego Water Department that their web pages contain incorrect information:

First, the Guaranteed Water for Industry Program no longer has any bearing on the price of reclaimed water. As things now stand, the discounted rate of $0.80/HCF applies to ALL buyers of reclaimed water. Here’s the updated flyer for the program.

Second, the fee reductions indicated in the Business & Industry Incentive Program were invalidated by a Supreme Court ruling and the City has not authorized any fee reductions under this program since 2007.

Third, the exemption from drought water conservation rules now extends to ALL users of reclaimed water–it is no longer a benefit of the program.

As author Robert Glennon observes “Our existing supplies are stretched to the limit, yet demographers expect the U.S. population to grow by 120 million by midcentury…To understand the depth of the water crisis, consider that more than thirty-five of the lower forty-eight states are fighting with their neighbors over water” (from Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It, Island Press, 2009).

In addressing its water future, San Diego has been doing almost everything that’s been thought of. However, its entire water pricing system could use a complete overhaul with an eye towards incentives to conserve; and, San Diego has to redouble its resolve in confronting powerful forces for growth and expansion, because given the size of our population, even significant restraints could take decades before there is a visible reduction in the growth rate. It’s good to see that SANDAG is possibly reducing its aggressive promotion of development, but that’s not enough.

Just as newspapers need to face the realities of the digital world, San Diego needs to adapt to the realities of water. In his presentation, Shirky draws a parallel with the control of ideas, saying the news media ultimately cannot succeed in “attempting to treat an infinite good as if it were a finite good.” With water, it’s the same thing in reverse with a twist: even though water is an infinite (recirculating) good, we should be (but haven’t been) treating it as a finite good. Shirky said news needs to find a good balance. With water, well, they say it always seeks its own level.

Posted in Commerce, Government, Newspapers, Water | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Valero seeking to enlarge San Carlos gas station at Jackson & Navajo

Posted by George J Janczyn on March 15, 2010

The gas station at the corner of Navajo Road and Jackson Drive in San Carlos may get a new look if a proposal by Valero is approved. According to John Pilch, President of the San Carlos Area Council (SCAC), Valero would demolish and remake the existing gas station with the addition of a car wash and convenience store. I asked for information about the permit request from the San Diego Development Services Department but they have not responded; however, the proposal is on the agenda for the next SCAC meeting April 7 at 7pm in the San Carlos Branch Library.

Mar 17: The station manager informed me that it is not Valero’s proposal, but rather the property owner who has a lease with Valero who wishes to expand. He said the owner began the process about one year ago and that “the city keeps coming up with new objections” to the plan.

The current Valero corner gas station (click to enlarge)

Valero has a corner store investors webpage: http://www.valero.com/Stores/CornerStores/Pages/Home.aspx

 

Posted in Commerce, Land use | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Pizzeria open for Del Cerro/San Carlos area

Posted by George J Janczyn on January 31, 2010

Mountain Mike’s Pizza is now open for business in the Keil’s shopping mall at Jackson Dr. & Navajo Rd. The restaurant occupies the space that previously held the Navajo Community Service storefront which closed last summer because of the city’s budget problems.

Inside, a high ceiling and brick walls create an inviting atmosphere, with homemade photos hung for decoration. The seating area is divided into two open rooms, each equipped with two large flat-screen TVs tuned to sporting events. There’s a salad bar in front and a nook in back revealing several game machines.

The menu includes appetizers, salads, sandwiches, create your own or gourmet pizzas plus beer & wine. A medium cheese pizza goes for $11.99 ($1.99 each additional topping) or a medium gourmet for $17.49. Delivery charge is $2.

 

Posted in Commerce, Miscellaneous | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

San Carlos/Del Cerro area businesses open and shut

Posted by George J Janczyn on December 1, 2009

There are a few more changes taking place at the Keil’s shopping center at Jackson Drive and Navajo Road (see July’s post on the earlier changes here). Its location at the western edge of San Carlos makes it a draw for quite a few shoppers from the neighboring Del Cerro community as well.

The Navajo Community Service Center and police storefront that closed during the summer are definitely not returning — a Mountain Mike’s Pizza is taking over the storefront that they occupied and looks to create some competition with Tivoli Pizza a few doors down. The Yogurt Works (formerly the San Carlos Creamery) has a “for lease” sign in the window. Lastly, Casey’s Place, a home-grown neighborhood recreation center, is empty and the sign is gone.

Casey's Place is empty

 

Posted in Commerce, Miscellaneous | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Cowles Mountain watering hole?

Posted by George J Janczyn on August 30, 2009

At the popular Cowles Mountain (Cowles pronounced as in “bowls”) staging area at the corner of Golfcrest and Navajo there’s quite a bit of foot traffic (with lots of regulars) heading up and down the mountain every day. I guess that many returning hikers see the Sunburst Square retail area across the street and think about food and refreshment. There is the Cotija Taco shop–a long-time tenant–but not everyone wants a taco or burrito every time and the donut shop probably has a different audience. After seeing the ‘for lease’ sign there at the former Fromex photo shop for quite awhile now, I figure somebody might do well to put in a sandwich/smoothie shop. In addition to the hikers, I think the neighborhood locals would come to avoid driving a fair distance to San Carlos or Grantville/Allied Gardens. Tons of nearby condos and apartments. Plenty of drive-by traffic. Employees from the Jackson/Navajo businesses would probably swing by for lunch or a smoothie. Even the busy parents dropping off their kids at the KinderCare could grab a sandwich for lunch at work. How about it? Cowles Mountain Subs, anyone?

Cowles Mountain staging area

Cowles Mountain staging area

Sunburst Square

Sunburst Square

Posted in Commerce, Miscellaneous | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Neighborhood signs of change

Posted by George J Janczyn on July 19, 2009

The city’s budget woes have shut down operations at the Navajo Community Service Center as well as the SDPD storefront office on Jackson Drive.

[Image of closed Navajo Community Service office]

Closed Navajo Community Service office

They forgot or couldn't afford to remove this sign

They forgot or couldn't afford to remove this sign

Megan’s Cafe has changed its name to The Trails Neighborhood Eatery. Inside, they expanded into the space formerly occupied by the tanning salon.

Same San Carlos food, same Del Cerro prices

Same San Carlos food, same Del Cerro prices

San Carlos Hardware could have done better than this unsightly paste job on the old Ace Hardware sign:

Local eyesore

Local eyesore

Posted in Commerce, Miscellaneous | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »