Letters to the editor: July 6, 2021

LAFCO and feasibility study

Why does LAFCO persist in another feasibility study? Do they think that they can hire consultants who are as trustworthy as the Water District who used the best banking and finance consultants in the country? What motivated the five of seven to systematically ignore David Stoldt who was there to clarify any confusions the LAFCO Commissioners could or would have about the feasibility study? Did the LAFCO commissioners read or understand the full report? Why did the commissioners go along with every item of contention that the Cal Am attorney had with the report?  It is unbelievable that four out of five commissioners who voted for the additional study do not even live in the Cal Am service area. How is it possible for Cal Am customers, who have endured decades of what is now among the highest water rates in the country, to be ignored? This is a clear case of under-representation where Cal Am and its supporters in the business community have had undue influence on decision-making governing boards for many years. They actually believe they are entitled to more privileges than residents. Another case of where unjust influence has hijacked the will of citizens and ratepayers of the Monterey Peninsula.

— Walt Notley, Carmel

More on LAFCO decision

Thank you for covering LAFCO’s regrettable decision to require an additional study on whether a public buyout of Cal Am’s Monterey water system is feasible. The Herald’s article is good, but a better headline would have been “Cal Am ratepayers to pay for another buyout study” (or “LAFCO orders another Cal Am buyout feasibility study”).   As reported, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District had a feasibility study done by independent experts some time ago.  There is no good reason to have another feasibility study done until the buyout price has been determined.  (The fair value of the water system has to be set by a court in an eminent domain proceeding.)  It will only delay the public buyout process and add costs.   As for who will pay — LAFCO will bill the District, but the bill won’t  be paid by “officials.”  The District is essentially funded by Cal Am’s ratepayers on the Monterey Peninsula.   LAFCO just stuck those ratepayers with the bill.

— Karen Paull, Monterey Peninsula Water Management District Director, Division 4

Buyback won’t help

The article “State buyback helps endangered species in the sanctuary” is grossly mistitled. State efforts to end the drift gillnet fishery will lead to more deaths of sea turtles and other endangered species because US-caught swordfish will be replaced with products from countries whose fisheries have little regard for those species.

The article portrays “deep set buoy gear” as replacing DGN. Not true. This gear was designed to only supplement DGN. It can’t equal the volume of production of DGN.

DGN has very low bycatch rates, and nearly all of that is returned alive. No sea turtle has been killed in DGN in nearly twenty years; three were caught, all returned alive. Nearly all finfish caught as bycatch are either returned alive or landed for human food.

It is not science that has driven efforts to end DGN, rather it is a campaign of misinformation.

— Kathy Fosmark, Pebble Beach

Bikes in Salinas

At one time, the League of American Bicyclists awarded Salinas “Bicycle Friendly City” status.  Currently, Salinas claims to be working toward Vision Zero, a worldwide bicycle and pedestrian safety program.

But no more.  Salinas has chosen to undermine Vision Zero and all other safety programs with a draconian chip sealing proposal.  Chip sealing is a process where gravel is attached to the pavement with tar.  According to CalTrans, even after the gravel is swept five to ten percent of the gravel remains.  This is a serious safety hazard to bicyclists, as bicycles tend to slide in gravel, causing crashes.  Salinas even wants to chip seal bike lanes, leaving them unsafe for bicycle use.  If Salinas is serious about this it should withdraw all pretenses of following Vision Zero.

Vision Zero works.  In 2019, Oslo, Norway, had zero bicycle fatalities, zero pedestrian fatalities, and only one motorist fatalities by using Vision Zero.  Oslo is a world city with a population over four times that of Salinas.  Salinas has significantly more bicycle and pedestrian fatalities every year, and really needs correctly-followed programs like Vision Zero.

— Eric Petersen, Salinas 

Contributed by local news sources

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