Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Local connection to global warming - sardines?

An interesting article in today's New York Times discusses a newly-discovered connection between the lack of sardines and global warming. It appears that these tiny fish eat, or used to eat, massive amounts of phytoplankton, which are tiny plants floating in ocean currents. With the sardines exploited and overfished, the phytoplankton proliferates, dies, and rots. As it rots it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

The study was conducted in Africa, but could be relevant to the collapsed sardine fishery off the northern California coast. Just one more lesson of the dangers in massively altering systems we don't yet understand.


New guidebook for local open space

We just learned of a new guidebook to the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District's 25 preserves and 200+ miles of trails. "Peninsula Tales & Trails" by David Weintraub ($19.95 from WestWinds Press, available at Kepler's) promises a preserve locator map, historical, cultural and anecdotal material, including a table with trail use info (bikes, dogs, horses).

The locator map and trail use info are already available on the MROSD website, but the additional info might be quite interesting, and it's worth taking a look at this book.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Problems with the Stanford Trail EIR

Here is CGF's comment letter on the Supplemental EIR for the Stanford S1 Trail. As you'll see, we didn't like the document very much.


Friday, November 12, 2004

Getting angry on the job

So I'm a little embarassed to admit that I got angry at a public meeting recently. I was attending a meeting of an interminably-long committee process deciding whether to expand a city's boundaries, and a pro-development person made what I considered to be a series of unfair attacks on a new environmental representative at the committee. When the committee took a break, the development person and I got in an argument about her attacks, and I challenged her to appeal to the mayor, who was chairing the committee and was ten feet away, if she thought the environmental groups were doing anything wrong. We argued for a little more, then calmed down and had a normal conversation.

The one consolation was that somebody else at the meeting told me that I was not visibly angry. I kind of thought I was.

The only times I've become angry on the job in my year-and-a-half here are in that particular committee (on other occasions), and with Stanford's various activities. I'm not sure what that says about anything, but I'll try and keep my cool, or keep it from showing when I don't keep my cool.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Pushing for change

CGF has found serious problems with County planning processes, where developers are given access to government documents that are not shared with the public, and given a chance to influence the final version of those documents without input from the public. We have more information about this illegal practice here.

We are now beginning to take action. Here is a letter we're sending to Santa Clara County. We'll see what happens next.


Monday, November 8, 2004

Stanford's S1 "Trail" - comments are due Friday!

Santa Clara County is now accepting comments on the environmental documentation for the first of the two trails that Stanford promised to build in return for all the development it was allowed. (For background information, click here.) You can review the County's new document here:

Stanford S1 Trail Alignment Draft Supplemental EIR (scroll two-thirds of the way down the screen)

The main problem with the document is that the "trail" it identifies as environmentally superior is hardly a trail at all, and simply follows existing roads and sidewalks. The reason for this is that the County refuses to look at which trail best reduces the environmental impact from Stanford's expansion, and instead chooses the trail alignment that has the least impact on its own. Obviously, the smallest impact will come from an alignment that creates as little actual trail as possible. Instead of looking for a more natural setting, the document prefers a trail along existing roads and sidewalks, where people can already go walking.

Comments are due Friday for this document - send them to

We'll do a more public push on the S1 Trail when the final environmental document is complete.


Update: You can read CGF's comment letter on the draft environmental report here.

Friday, November 5, 2004

Planning Santa Clara County's Habitat

Yesterday was the first public meeting in a process to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan for most of Santa Clara County. This is a quiet step forward on a process that will influence development for good or ill in the County over 20 years or more. CGF and other organizations will keep track of the process and publicize it, of course. There's an even a brand new website with HCP information, at:

Santa Clara Valley Habitat Conservation Plan / Natural Communities Conservation Plan

A question that has long bothered me is why the HCP has been delayed so long - I originally believed it was because San Jose did not want the HCP to moderate development in Coyote Valley. We may have learned part of the answer yesterday when San Jose staff said that the development group funding planning for Coyote Valley is also funding San Jose's participation. My guess it that the development group delayed an agreement to fund the process, which is why San Jose delayed the process. Whether San Jose was actively cooperating or resisting this delay is unclear - they're not talking about it.


Monday, November 1, 2004

A chance to weigh in locally

On this election-day-eve, you might, like me, be feeling the need to act locally. Here's an opportunity to have an effect on our local representation – on the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) Board of Directors.

With the addition of the San Mateo County Coastside to its jurisdiction, MROSD now needs to adjust the boundaries of its seven districts so that each contains approximately the same number of people.

holding a series of workshops to get input on how best to redraw the ward boundaries so that the new constituents are appropriately represented on the district’s Board of Directors. (Each ward elects one Director.)

This could affect many of the district’s nearly 750,000 constituents, as the various scenarios drawn up by staff involve adjusting boundaries of as many as four of the seven districts.

The final meeting on this issue is this Thursday, Nov. 4 at 7pm, at the District’s field office on Skyline.

You can also visit the district’s website (link to www.openspace.org) to see the proposed scenarios and provide your input electronically.