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«A thesis submitted to the faculty of San Francisco State University In partial fulfillment of The requirements for The degree Master of Arts In ...»

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In addition to procuring funding, another significant complication of the project and more specifically the Marsh Diversion (or Wetland Bypass) Plan was that Caltrans owned the land required for the wetlands area. Without the Caltrans land the entire project was in jeopardy. City staff first formally requested that Caltrans transfer their land over to the city in July 1991 (Holmes 1991b). Caltrans was holding on to the land as part of the Devil’s Slide Bypass project (Holmes 1991b). In 1994 Caltrans still retained the land, and was requesting mitigation credits for the project’s net gain in wetlands before transferring the land to the city (Browne 1994). City staff and the committee worked with Assemblyman Lou Papan in 1998 on legislation to transfer the Caltrans land to the city (Larsen 1998b). The legislation passed in September 1998 and the city finally obtained the Caltrans land (SPCFCC 1998).

Throughout the planning process of the San Pedro Creek Flood Control Project, many different elements influenced the project’s objectives and proposed methods, as determined by meso-level elements (primarily city staff, the city council, the committee, and the Corps). The influence of these various elements shifted the objectives and methods over time. After the 1962 flood the city council, city staff, and committee considered structural changes to the drainage systems, including the creek, and city staff even lined the stream near Capistrano. By the 1972 flood the environmental movement (macro-level element) had increased the desire of many residents and community

Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 103

members (micro-level elements) to protect San Pedro Creek, and the committee (meso-level element) looking into flood control with the Corps (meso-level element) recommended a solution that was less harmful to the environment than the other proposed solutions. After the 1982 flood city staff, the committee, and the Corps began to explore a broader range of flood control methods, in order to address the many different concerns and requirements relating to the project. These concerns and requirements from residents (micro-level elements) and organizations (meso-level elements) included protecting San Pedro Creek, private property rights, steelhead trout, and the California Red-legged Frog. Scott Holmes (meso-level element) provided significant direction on the project, finding a solution that incorporated these many concerns, and helped to procure the necessary funding for the city’s share largely through grants. Although Scott Holmes acted on behalf of the city in a meso-level role, his individual goals, values, and experiences influenced his development of an environmentally friendly plan using non-traditional flood control methods. Looking at how the project’s objectives and methods changed reveals not only the large number of people, policies, and organizations involved in a flood control project, but also the potential influence of just a few individuals in determining the fate of a project. Figure 4 displays the key elements and complicated linkages in the response following the 1982 flood. If a linkage between many of the elements had been broken, the project may have stalled indefinitely.

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Several issues repeatedly frustrated meso- and micro-level elements in the San Pedro Creek Flood Control Project: a lack of communication and a cumbersome planning process. Both of these issues derive from complications created by a break in a linkage between elements and/or by the large number of linkages (Figure 4). Given the many linkages between elements at all levels, opportunities existed for linkages to break down and impede the planning process. In addition, each linkage brings with it more policies and procedures that further complicate the planning process. Understanding the linkages, where they break down, and how this affects the ability of meso- and micro-level decision makers to respond to a hazard, provides an opportunity to improve these linkages for future responses, facilitating better communication and a more efficient planning process.

Communication Issues While sometimes perhaps intentional and other times unintentional, communication gaps between elements often resulted in delays in the planning process.

Many times during the planning process residents (micro-level elements) expressed frustration with city staff (meso-level element) for not communicating the details of the project to them. The cause of this communication break partly stems from city staff using the local newspaper, the Pacifica Tribune, as the primary tool to communicate with

Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 105

residents at large about the flood control project. Occasional updates on the project were published in the Pacifica Tribune, but if a resident did not read the newspaper they might know little to nothing about the project. Notices of upcoming flood control committee meetings and public hearings were also announced in the Pacifica Tribune, but again if a resident did not read the newspaper, they likely did not know about the meetings and missed these opportunities to get more information on the project. By indirectly communicating with micro-level residents through the newspaper, communication from city staff was also limited by the newspaper staff (meso-level element), who had ultimate control over the content of the communication. A related complication is that even if residents knew of the weeknight meetings, they may have been unable to attend. The meeting time points to a macro-level influence, the socioeconomic assumption that most people work during the day, so the best time to hold a meeting to reach most of the public is in the evening.





Differences of opinion developed at several points between the committee (meso-level element) and the city’s project representative (meso-level element) regarding communicating with and seeking additional involvement from residents (micro-level elements). Early in the planning process following the 1982 flood and after the committee had accumulated enough information to start narrowing down its recommendations, committee member Patrick Hall proposed to Mike Randolph that they involve members of the public in the project within a few months (Randolph 1984a). Randolph acknowledged the potential benefits of meeting with small groups of

Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 106

residents and area business owners, but countered that the city would prefer to wait until they were ready for a public meeting in a larger forum such as a city council meeting to maximize public involvement (Randolph 1984a). Randolph also later cited the Upper Penitencia Creek Flood Plain Management Study in San Jose as an example of a project that narrowed down the options to one solution before presenting it to the public for discussion (LLMAFCIC 1984d).

Tensions developed between the committee and the city regarding repairs to a levee, when the city left the committee out of the planning process. In February 1986 storms damaged a levee on the north side of San Pedro Creek west of Highway One, which protected the Linda Mar Sanitary Sewer Pump Station (Renner 1986; USACE and City 1998a). Soon thereafter the Corps initiated a Section 14 Reconnaissance study to consider making emergency repairs to the levee (USACE and City 1998a). Although City Engineer Ernest Renner advised the flood control committee that the Corps planned to design repairs for the levee that would meet 100-year flood standards and that the committee would be provided with an opportunity to comment on the project (Renner 1986), neither city staff nor the Corps communicated further with the committee about this project. Soon after the work was completed in fall 1988 Patrick Hall expressed his frustration that city staff or the Corps had not notified the committee of the work being done west of Highway One and voiced his concern that the work might not be compatible with the committee’s recommendations for the flood control project (Hall 1988). The lack of communication between city staff and the

Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 107

committee prompted Hall to call for a committee meeting (Hall 1988). Committee meetings apparently were the primary method of communication between city staff and the committee. The committee had been relatively inactive for the prior two years (Randolph 1988), meeting infrequently while the Corps worked on the reconnaissance study. By reinitiating committee meetings, the committee could better influence the actions of other meso-level elements, such as city staff and the Corps.

At a joint public hearing in February 1989 residents expressed a concern that the community was not notified about the meeting (Larsen 1989), although the meeting was announced in the Pacifica Tribune the week before the meeting. Linda Mar resident Todd Greene was alarmed to learn about the proposal to put a 4-5 foot concrete wall through his backyard, which neither he nor his neighbors had heard about previously (Greene 2004). In response Greene and his neighbors united in a homeowners’ association to petition against the floodwall and temporarily stopped the planning process. In this case lack of communication with residents caused a delay in the process. As a result the flood control committee involved the homeowners’ association in the planning process (Hall 2003), so that when Scott Holmes proposed the Marsh Diversion Plan, the homeowners along DeSolo and Flores Drives were kept informed of the details and ultimately expressed their support for the project. However, city staff did not keep the residents along the proposed diversion pipeline route informed about the plan, at least in the early stages. In fall 1990 the committee expressed the desire to get residents of Bower Road and Silvia Court involved in the discussion about the

Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 108

pipeline to keep the project moving; however, Scott Holmes asked that they wait until after the Corps determined if the new alternative was feasible (Curtis 1990c; Curtis 1990d). This provides another example of a difference in opinion between the committee and city staff in how and when to involve residents in the planning process.

In addition, Holmes’ desire to limit the dispersal of information to the micro-level residents may reflect a deliberate effort to provide residents with fewer opportunities to oppose the project or to influence the project in ways not amenable to the city staff and committee.

Several communication issues came to light at a public meeting held as part of the EIR/S process in 1996. The Corps and Scott Holmes provided details on the new Marsh Diversion Alternative and Lynne Galal, project manager from the Corps, advised those interested that copies of the draft EIR/S were available at the local library branches or by contacting her directly (USACE and City 1996, Appendix K). Again this information was perhaps most useful to residents who were unable to attend the meeting, who still would not know about the availability of this information in the library. At the same meeting residents again expressed concerns about being unaware of the details of the flood control project and not having been asked for their feedback (USACE and City 1996, Appendix K). Specifically related to concerns about residents receiving communication during construction, Scott Holmes responded that city staff would provide updates to residents via mail and notes on their doors (USACE and City 1996, Appendix K).

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level residents seems to have improved. Despite delays in the flood control project Scott Holmes and the committee tried to keep flooding on the minds of the residents and city staff. In October 1997 city officials staged a mock winter storm disaster, which was publicized in the Pacifica Tribune (Larsen 1997). Committee members mailed a letter and information pamphlet to residents in December 1997 advising them to be prepared for winter flooding given that the flood control project was not yet constructed (SPCFCC 1997). Scott Holmes occasionally sent out letters to residents providing them with updates, especially after a big event such as moving the creek to its new channel in December 2002 (Holmes 2002). However, as will be discussed in the next chapter, after the final plan was published and the project moved to the implementation phase, Scott Holmes and the Corps removed the diversion pipe from the project, apparently without widely publicizing the change.

Cumbersome Planning Process Communication problems as well as the large number of elements involved in the flood control project led to a slow and cumbersome planning process. Planning for the project after the 1982 flood started off very quickly; however, progress soon slowed to a frustrating pace. The post-1982 flood control committee (meso-level element) completed its first report providing recommended solutions in May 1985, just 11 months after starting its task. Shortly thereafter the Corps (meso-level element) started

Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 110

a Section 205 flood control study and the momentum of the project slowed down. The city involved the Corps to gain funding and expertise for the project, but in return the logistics of the project became more complicated. The Corps requires numerous studies or phases be completed when it evaluates and plans a flood control project, and these steps can each take a year or more to complete, making the process lengthy and cumbersome. The reconnaissance study alone generally requires one year to complete and determines the scope of the problem, develops the possible solutions or alternatives, performs a cost/benefit analysis, and reduces the alternatives to those that are most feasible in order to determine if the Corps should participate in the flood control study (USACE and City 1996, Appendix K; USACE 1988). The Corps’ conclusions also take into consideration whether or not the local sponsor expects to have the required funds for its share of the project (USACE 1988). During the next phase, the feasibility study, which can take up to three years, the most feasible alternatives are studied in depth to determine the recommended alternative (USACE and City 1996, Appendix K).

The Corps worked on the reconnaissance study starting summer 1985 and discussed their work to date at a public review meeting in March 1986; however, the final reconnaissance report was not published until summer 1988. The first phase of the flood control study, which usually required about one year, had taken three years.



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