Conversations—New comment feature for Montara Fog

I’ve installed a new comment area for Montara Fog called “Montara Fog Conversations.” It is simple to use and clean-looking.

Anyone can read posts in Conversations but you have to register to post. You are only allowed to have one user name on Conversations. To enforce this I will personally approve each user before they can post. After approval user posts will appear instantly. (If you registered on Montara Fog before please re-register again.)

One nice feature of Conversations is that comments on articles are also integrated into the main forum area. You can post from an article page, from the sidebar on the front page, or from the Conversations page. It doesn’t matter. It’s all part of one conversation.

At the bottom of each article (in full page article view mode) you will find a Conversations area. You can post there. Or you can post in the sidebar or click on the blue “Montara Fog Conversations” link to go to the forum area to post there. You can also reach the forum from the menu at the top of the screen.

I’ll be tweaking things as we go along—I’d love to hear your feedback.

Welcome to Conversations.

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Coastside Fire Protection District, Board of Directors Meeting, October 22, 2014

The full agenda can be found by clicking here.

The Board of Directors of the Coastside Fire Protection District met this past Wednesday–Montara Fog videotaped the meeting on behalf on the Board.

CFPD holds the copyright to this video but desires that it be widely disseminated. Therefore, they are granting permission for its use (including use by the news media) as long as proper attribution is given. Attribution can take the form of, for example, the text “Video courtesy of CFPD” located next to the video or at a visible place within an article. That’s it. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Montara Fog.

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Montara man wins $50,000 judgement after being tased by ranger in 2012 dog walking incident

As readers will remember, on the first day of the new dog walking rules being enforced on Montara Mountain in January of 2012, ranger Sarah Cavallaro tased resident Gary Hesterberg in the back during an incident stemming from walking his dogs without a leash.

Hesterberg prevailed in his suit against the park service and was awarded $50,000 yesterday by a federal judge.

SFGate has the story.

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Colbert Report on Khosla: “The indignity of sharing the world with others”

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Senator Jerry Hill’s Martins Beach bill signed into law, Khosla complains of “pandering politicians”

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law Senator Hill’s bill which would seek negotiations with secretive Martins Beach owner over public access.

The bill as originally worded would have compelled the State Lands Commission to exercise its power of eminent domain on the road leading to the beach should negotiations fail to produce that same result. In its final form the Commission still has the option to seize the land but is not required to do so. The State Lands Commission has never exercised its eminent domain power in its past. The Commission is made up of three California officials: Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, State Controller John Chiang, and Finance Director Michael Cohen.

Billionaire Vinod Khosla spent heavily to fight the bill, assembling a team of Sacramento lobbyists led by well-connected former Assemblyman Rusty Areinas.

As quoted in the San Mateo County Times article by Aaron Kinney, Areias dismissed the bill suggesting it had been effectively neutered by his efforts.

The bill is a remnant of what it was originally,” Areias said of the law, which in its initial form would have required, rather than sought, the commission’s use of eminent domain. “Basically it mandates a conversation. We don’t need a bill to have a conversation.

The official press release from Martins Beach LLC complains of “pandering politicians” who want the land but don’t want to pay for it.

One week ago Khosla lost a closely watched lawsuit brought by the Surfrider Foundation which also sought the reopening of public access to the beach. Prior to the Surfrider lawsuit, which was brought last year, Khosla’s identity as the buyer of Martins Beach was a closely guarded secret. He has not appeared in public regarding Martin’s Beach nor has he entered into any sort of conversation with the public regarding the property, except in the courtroom under oath and via press releases put out by his legal team.

It is expected that Khosla will appeal the Surfrider decision.

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Coastside Fire Protection District, Board of Directors Meeting, September 24, 2014

The full agenda can be found by clicking here.

The Board of Directors of the Coastside Fire Protection District met this past Wednesday–Montara Fog videotaped the meeting on behalf on the Board.

CFPD holds the copyright to this video but desires that it be widely disseminated. Therefore, they are granting permission for its use (including use by the news media) as long as proper attribution is given. Attribution can take the form of, for example, the text “Video courtesy of CFPD” located next to the video or at a visible place within an article. That’s it. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Montara Fog.

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Surfrider wins Martins Beach lawsuit, court ruling expands the reach of Coastal Act

The Surfrider Foundation has prevailed in its lawsuit against billionaire Vinod Khosla against his effort to close Martins Beach to the public.

Khosla became wealthy after helping to found Sun Microsystems and later became widely known due to his investments (as a venture capitalist) in “green” energy technologies. Those investments have not, on the whole, proved profitable.

In 2008 Vinod secretly purchased the Martins Beach property and later closed the gate leading to the beach, painted over the billboard which indicated public access, and posted “no trespassing” signs. At one point he hired security guards to keep surfers and other curious members of the public off the property.

The Surfrider brought suit against Khosla in March of 2013 claiming that Khosla should have obtained a permit required under the Coastal Act since locking the gate and the other related actions amounted to a reduction in the “intensity of use” of the public portion of the beach.

In her ruling San Mateo Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach said that barring the public indeed amounted to a change in use, despite the fact that there were no physical alterations of the land.

This appears to be a significant expansion of the definition of “intensity of use” under the Coastal Act and may set a precedent for future cases.

In a statement Khosla’s lawyers hinted that they will appeal.

The entire tentative decision (which may be expanded upon at a later date) is posted below:

View Fullscreen
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Help develop business plan for harbor, October 14

LWC_SMCHD_PPH Workshop_101414_Final

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Mike McHenry: Reform Our Troubled Harbor Commission

[Note: This letter was received from local fisherman Mike McHenry. It appears here unedited.]

I’ve been an active Half Moon Bay commercial fisherman for 56 years and a leaseholder at Pillar Point Harbor for over 30 years.

Grand Jury Report

After reading the July 2014 Grand Jury recommendation to dissolve the Harbor District, and the arrogant response by Harbor Commissioners, hopefully voters will begin to understand the difficulties commercial fishermen, leaseholders, live aboard tenants, and sports fishing interests are up against. Grand Jury volunteers perform checks and balances and this oversight function helps keep local government on track.

DA Investigation & Grenell’s Retirement

On Sept. 3, 2014 the District Attorney mailed a letter to the law firm representing the Harbor District. The letter is part of a preliminary inquiry into the California Maritime Infrastructure Bank/Authority and followed recent interviews with senior members of the Harbor Commission. At the Sept. 3rd Harbor District meeting Commissioner Jim Tucker said a DA investigator interviewed him regarding Peter Grenell’s activates as the president and chair of the bank/authority. At the same meeting Peter Grenell announced his retirement after 17.5 years with the Harbor District. His last day will be January 3, 2015.

Cautious Optimism

A thorough executive search for a highly qualified General Manager has the potential to fix the Harbor District’s management problems. To insure the best candidate is hired we must elect new Harbor Commissioners.

Commission Out of Touch

In 2012 the Harbor Commission levied the highest fish unloading fees on the West Coast. The fees are passed onto fishermen and ultimately to consumers.
For the past several years I’ve attended countless Harbor District meetings to raise awareness about the harm these fees are having on small fishing businesses and the local economy. Commissioners Jim Tucker, Will Holsinger and Robert Bernardo stubbornly insist they are entitled to a percentage of the commercial fishing fleets catch without the risks involved with going to sea. Commissioners are aware that the fees they’re imposing are inconsistent with market conditions at other commercial fishing ports. Commissioners should understand that requiring arbitrarily high fees for unloading fish at Pillar Point Harbor isn’t a sustainable approach to generating revenue.

Fiscal Mismanagement

The Harbor District recently misplaced $40,000 in tenant checks for berthing, and $30,000 in fishing fees are missing. Over the past few years members of the public have asking numerous questions about accounting irregularities. When bank records were requested management made excuses and refused to provide useful information. When the missing fishing fees were brought to light, management slapped leaseholders with an audit handled by a consultant. The consultant was uninformed about which documents were needed to preform an audit and neglecting to include a due date on requests.

Culture of Favoritism

At Pillar Point Harbor three business owners lease three fish unloading stations. Oddly, preferential treatment was granted to the fish unloading business that came up $30,000 short paying fees in 2013. The Harbormaster approved installation of a new hoist outside the designated lease area. This windfall doubled the leaseholders’ dock space yet their rent did not go up. Currently each leaseholder pays an equal amount in rent regardless of this new special arrangement. Two of the three leaseholders were never offered a chance at expansion and the District’s Harbormaster was in such a rush get the new hoist installed that he completely forgot to apply for permits from the Coastal Commission and the County Planning Department.

Shredding & Videotaping

Recently we learned that Harbor management has a bad habit of shredding documents, which the District’s own document retention policy requires, be retained. Last year Commissioner Jim Tucker argued that public access television broadcasts of board meetings was like a “fungus.” In response to Tucker’s concerns the board majority voted to discontinue meeting videos.

Poor Performance

Complaints from tenants and fishermen have grown over the past few years, and in response the board majority has taken steps to stifle public comment and move it to the end of four-hour meetings. The General Manager and the board president intentionally schedule agenda items relevant to the commercial fishing fleet for meetings held in South San Francisco and they intentionally stack agendas in Half Moon Bay with items relevant to Oyster Point Marina. They block the public’s ability to participate at every opportunity. A few weeks ago Commissioners rewarded poor performance by voting 4-1 to give the General Manager a raise and a contract extension, now we learn he’s retiring under the dark cloud of the Grand Jury Report and a DA investigation.

November 2014 Election

Incumbent candidate Jim Tucker has a new campaign website that lists his endorsements. I was surprised and disappointed to see who’s on his list of supporters. I wonder if those endorsements were made prior to the June 2014 publication of the Grand Jury report.

Please don’t vote for incumbents.

Vote for Nicole David (4 year seat) and Tom Mattusch (2 year seat) and reform our troubled Harbor Commission.

Please contact me with any questions 650-703-5498.

Michael D. McHenry
Fishing Vessel Merva W
Half Moon Bay Fishermen’s Association Leaseholder, Pillar Point Harbor
Berth Holder, Pillar Point Harbor

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Video: Senator Jerry Hill, standing outside the locked gates of Martins Beach, calls on Governor Brown to sign legislation to try to regain public access

Reader Leonard Woren attended the Martins Beach event hosted by Senator Jerry Hill on September 12 and provided this video. The event, which took place outside the locked gates was aimed at raising awareness of the efforts to regain public access to the beach and to encourage Governor Brown to sign the legislation, sponsored by Hill, which aims to push the property’s secretive owner, Vinod Khosla, to negotiate.

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