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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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The Corps initiated the feasibility study in 1989 (USACE and City 1998a);

however, public feedback against the proposed floodwall in the Floodwall and Floodplain

Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 111

Plan quickly brought the project to a halt. When Scott Holmes proposed the new Marsh Diversion Alternative, the Corps was required to perform the same reconnaissance study on it as it had on the other alternatives.

After 6 years the flood control project was still in the early planning stages and several people (individuals acting in meso-level roles) had moved on to other jobs or projects. The length of the process was clearly becoming a detriment as city staff retired and committee members resigned, taking with them their knowledge of the project. The individuals acting in meso-level roles influence the meso-level element they represent, so changing the individual in the role also alters the meso-level element.

Scott Holmes was already in place as the city’s new representative for the project when Mike Randolph and Ernie Renner resigned from their positions in 1990, and he injected new ideas into the project. However, the city still had to appoint new committee members from time to time, who along with any new staff at the Corps would require time to get up to speed.

Some residents (micro-level elements) also began to get impatient with the length of the process, especially as the 10-year anniversary of the 1982 flood approached (Pacifica Tribune 1991; Curtis 1991b). They took it on themselves to go out into their neighborhood to get other residents involved and called for a meeting (Curtis 1991b). The flood control committee held a meeting for the residents in April 1991 and discussed the need for funding, which it proposed be provided with a special

Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 112

assessment district and asked residents for their support in securing funding from the city council (Curtis 1991b).

By July 1991 the Corps advised city staff that a cost/benefit analysis of the new alternative suggested that benefits would greatly increase with the new alternative (Holmes 1991b), and the project moved forward. However, in January 1992 a reorganization at the Corps created the new Real Estate department with a new process required for flood control projects (SPFCC 1992a). Frustrated by another delay at the Corps, Patrick Hall volunteered to write U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos (meso-level element) to ask for his assistance with the project (SPFCC 1992a). In August 1992 representatives from the Corps attended a committee meeting and the project seemed to be moving forward again (SPFCC 1992b; Holmes 1992a); however, in September staff turnover at the Corps again slowed down the process. Patrick Hall requested Tom Lantos’ support in making this project a high priority at the Corps (Hall 1992), and Scott Holmes asked the current and former mayors (meso-level elements) to also contact Lantos and State Assemblywoman Jackie Speier (meso-level elements) for their help (Holmes 1992b; Holmes 1992c).

In response to a letter from Lantos, Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Cardoza from the Corps updated Lantos in November 1992 on the Corps’ work to date (Cardoza 1992). Cardoza defended the Corps, noting the many steps to the Corps’ planning process. He detailed the work already completed by the Corps, including a hydraulic analysis on the new alternative, and work in progress or soon to follow, including a real

Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 113

estate analysis, detailed cost estimates, and a cost/benefit analysis. After the Corps completed this work, they would determine the economically justified alternatives and, if the city was still interested in pursuing the project, create a new Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement (Cardoza 1992).

In 1993 the city and the Corps developed a new Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement and the Corps continued to move forward on the feasibility study (USACE and City 1998a). Between 1993 and 1995 the Corps identified the Wetland Bypass Plan as its selected plan and moved on to study it as part of the EIR/S process. Issues discovered during the EIR/S process delayed the Corps final plan. Among these issues was the need to consider the effects of the project on the California Red-legged Frog and incorporate them into the Coordination Act Report (CAR) required by the USFWS (meso-level element). The USFWS completed the CAR in April 1997, which determined that no mitigation measures were required for the project since it provided a net gain in habitat (USFWS 1997). The CAR recommended measures to minimize the impacts of the project, mostly to the steelhead trout, including avoiding construction in the channel during spawning season (January-June), designing the bypass to limit injury to fish in or exiting the bypass, monitoring steelhead and riparian vegetation after construction, taking measures during construction to protect the red-legged frog, and improving the water quality of runoff entering San Pedro Creek in the area (USFWS 1997).

–  –  –

study, which was completed in late 1997 and published as part of the final detailed project report in January 1998. Instead of requiring three years, the feasibility study lasted approximately eight years. The total process of developing the detail plan required over 12 years.





Despite completion of the final detailed project report in January 1998, work on the project design continued into late fall 1999 (Hall 1999). Although LCLA had designed the wetlands restoration, the design of “the flood control system” and the diversion or bypass pipe was contracted to the engineering firm Moffatt and Nichol (City and USACE 2000). Moffatt and Nichol began work on the design only after completion of the final detailed project report.

Although often providing environmental protection measures or requiring public participation, the policies and procedures required when planning a flood control project significantly constrain the progress of the project. The Corps’ policies and procedures alone were not the only cause of the slow and cumbersome process.

Federal and state policies required the Corps and the city to coordinate the project with many different agencies, including the USFWS and the CDFG, which had their own requirements for the project. In addition, the Corps and other meso-level elements discovered issues requiring additional research as planning progressed, such as protection of the California Red-legged Frog. Elements at the micro level also slowed

Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 115

the project, including new representatives of a meso-level element or residents opposing the flood control plan.

Finding the means to address the policies and procedures as quickly as possible could help decrease the frustration by those elements involved in planning flood control.

Likewise, the communication issues encountered during the planning process, demonstrate the need to get residents involved early in the process, so that they do not slow down the process when they do learn about a proposal late in the planning stages and oppose it. As with Todd Greene and other DeSolo Drive and Flores Drive residents, involving residents can bring to light any issues that will stop the project and initiate a search for alternatives. Finally, the city’s and the committee’s frustration with delays at the Corps may have been lessened if the Corps had communicated better with them to know that they were making progress on their study.

The many linkages generated in planning a flood control project complicate not only communication between elements but also the planning process. Understanding the policies and procedures of all linked elements would allow the decision makers in the meso-level roles to more efficiently plan a flood control project. Likewise, maintaining communication between all linked elements involved with the flood control project can decrease opposition to the project. Involving micro-level residents early in the planning process and keeping them involved may increase support for the project and decrease the likelihood that residents will try to stop the project later.

–  –  –

Individuals acting in meso-level roles are pulled in one direction by their own values, ideas, and experiences and in another direction by the duties of the meso-level element they represent. This tension often modifies the response of the meso-level element. In the San Pedro Creek Flood Control Project, the influence of an individual on the meso-level element they represent has been most evident in the implementation phase, especially through Scott Holmes in his role working for the city.

As previously discussed many meso-level elements were influenced by the individual acting in the meso-level role. Scott Holmes, representative for the city, influenced the project by creating an innovative plan that included environmental restoration. He proposed a flood control plan that included environmental restoration, in part because he is an environmentalist and was open to non-traditional flood control methods. Holmes also worked with the Corps until they provided a representative amenable to environmental restoration along with flood control, who likewise altered the response from the meso-level Corps. Members of the flood control committee, several of whom had experienced repeated flooding of their homes, contacted politicians to request help funding the project or in moving it along at the Corps.

California Assembly Member Lou Papan provides another example of a meso-level element choosing to act based on individual decisions when he sponsored legislation to

Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 117

deed the Caltrans land to the City of Pacifica. Several residents who were upset about the proposed floodwall later joined the meso-level citizens committee, altering its goals.

After years of developing the plan and getting approvals for the flood control project, city staff apparently removed implementation decisions from the public arena.

Scott Holmes broke up the project implementation into phases to break up the funding requirements, so that funding would be required with each phase and not all at once, making it easier to obtain funding from the city council, grants, and the Corps (City of Pacifica 2000; Hall 2003). Breaking the project up into phases also allowed one phase of the project to move forward while the specifics were still being decided for another phase. As of January 2000 the project consisted of three phases. Phase I included restoration of the wetlands; Phases II and III continued wetlands restoration and included moving the stream into the new channel (City of Pacifica 2000). Public Works expected construction to begin on Phase I in May 2000 and last through June 2001 (City of Pacifica 2000).

Just one month later Scott Holmes reported that changes to Phases II and III might require a revised EIR, potentially delaying those phases by up to two years (SPCFCC 2000). These changes likely involved the underground bypass pipe, which the city (i.e. Holmes) and the Corps agreed to remove from the project by early 2000 (Lee and Fiedler 2000). After analyzing the pipe, the city (either Scott Holmes or significantly influenced by Holmes) and the Corps discovered that the cost to construct the pipe was far greater than the original estimate, perhaps as much as $20 million, in part due to the

Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 118

methods required to diffuse water pouring out of the pipe and into the wetlands (Galal 2003). To accommodate this change the city (again, likely Scott Holmes) and the Corps agreed to replace the Adobe Bridge and reduce the steep slope of the channel banks downstream of the Adobe Bridge (Lee and Fiedler 2000). Despite making significant changes to the plan, the representatives from the Corps and the city (i.e. Scott Holmes) did not revise the final project report or the EIR/S (Hall 2003). Whether based on past experiences or goals, these individuals decided to avoid another public review process, in effect disregarding procedures likely required of their meso-level elements.

However, their decision may have prevented further delays in the project.

After 16 years of planning, construction finally began on the San Pedro Creek Flood Control and Ecosystem Restoration Project in summer 2000. By the time construction began on Phase I, meso-level elements (likely Scott Holmes) had already modified the phases of the project. These changes were largely at the discretion of Holmes and without public input. Phases I and II remained basically unchanged;

however, Phase III reflected changes required by removing the diversion pipe, and a Phase IV was also proposed. Phase I would restore the wetlands, create a new, meandering stream channel, and west of Highway One would remove the berm on the north bank to allow water to flow north into a floodplain. Phase II would move the stream from the old channel into the new channel and raise the height of the berm on the north side of the creek. Phase III would replace the Adobe Bridge and regrade the creek banks from the bridge downstream to Peralta Bridge to reduce the slope of the

Kelsey McDonald - Thesis 119

banks. The proposed Phase IV could restore San Pedro Creek and its ecosystem from the San Pedro Valley County Park in the back of the valley down to the Adobe Bridge.

Work on Phase II was expected to begin spring 2001, and on Phase III in fall 2003 (City and USACE 2000).

With several details of the project still in flux, city staff (i.e. Scott Holmes) continuously modified the phases as necessary. In 2001 as work on Phase I progressed (Photographs 5-6), the city was still negotiating with owners of property near the mouth of the creek to purchase their property to allow for the wetlands west of Highway One (Hall 2001). The city staff was also still working with the Corps on Phases I and II (Hall 2001), perhaps due to the delay in acquiring the property west of Highway One, but also because city staff were incorporating changes at the mouth of the creek into the Pacifica State Beach Master Plan (Larsen 2001). In fact by late 2001 the changes west of Highway One were moved to Phase II, and Phase III was described as working on the berm on the south side of the Linda Mar Shopping Center (Larsen 2001). City staff (i.e.



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