Thursday, October 15, 2009

When is Enough Plenty?

So what is climate change about? I'm taking this opportunity on Blog Action Day to join up with more than 13,000 other keypad-enabled folks all over the globe to pitch in my 2 centavos. We're ramping up to the UN Climate Change Conference in December, in Copenhagen, where the international community will agree on some essentials, if things go well.

Getting the arms around this issue (and I don't mean the military ones) involves quantified information as well as a means of calculating carbon footprint, which is the crux of this whole issue. Having done that, the strategy involves solving the problem by changing lifestyles and behavior.

But what does this mean, really, to humanity on this earth? To me, sitting here in the USA which is famously a first-world power with incredible global reach and also historically the biggest producer of CO2 and pollution on earth by far, it means asking the question, "When is enough plenty?"

We just hoover it in and spit it out. More, more more. UBS, AIG, Goldman. While planetary life dies from this. The greed of it is rapacious and unending, the piles of money and stuff that matters to no one at the end of a lifetime yet leaves a legacy of waste. We've lost the quality of immersion in life, the ability to honor the simple and sacred, for the sake of speed and superficiality. Where is the real? I think it will find us in a way that we don't want.

Unless we change the climate of our minds.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Of Mice and Men

The best laid plans - in this case, no plans are laid at all. Peter Gleick poses excellent musings on the realities of population versus diminishing resources, and the inability of local governments to foresee the impacts of their policies and decisions. Megaregion planning is something that is emerging in some of the more dense clusters, but the limits to growth are not being examined. America 2050 tries to project into the future for some of the larger trends.

Data on infrastructure and planning is on our State government website, along with an admission that decisions are being made in a disjointed fashion, and asks for a consolidated planning organization. Which apparently SCAG is gunning for, but with a completely wrong old-boy agenda. The presented example of a good plan is the SANDAG diagram. It's strictly logistical and growth-oriented.

This site lays the groundwork for land use and transportation to guide all planning, but does not include any consideration of natural capital or social capital, which are crucial elements of the entire picture. So it's very one-dimensional and isn't supportable, and fosters destructive bubbles like we've seen with banking and real estate in the last year. What's happening is that this view only sees government and commerce, with the underground economy and its impacts in the shadows. So of course its solutions are incomplete and ultimately don't work.

A regenerative approach is necessary, as I've laid out before, and will involve the processes of a values-driven culture and a recognition of the larger aspects of the impact of human habitation.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Here's the rest of the 1414 Fair Oaks Building story. In 1982, a very swingin' bash was put on by Whit, Wayne and Bob to say farewell to all that had transpired in the 24 years of its history. Herb designed the invitation. Whit played sax in a barbershop quartet - so he WAS the entertainment - and we all showed up for a last party there. The facility was sold, and underwent some modifications. Subsequently it had a close call with the wrecking ball, but it was rescued from that fate (tip of the hat to Ray Girvigian, FAIA, who also had an office here) and later purchased by a private buyer for professional office use.

So there was another party and reunion in June of 2005, with South Pasadena Heritage attending, along with the new owners who continue to use the structure today. The community was very pleased with the outcome, and the Chamber of Commerce staged their own gathering of luminaries here to set this structure off on its new course. As of today, the immediately adjacent lot is being cleared for new construction, but this hallmark of an era and the imprint of uniquely influential design practice in the City of South Pasadena remains!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Sage

Whitney Smith, FAIA, was a prolific architect of the postwar period. I went to work for him after Smith and Williams relocated out of 1414 Fair Oaks to Culver City in 1982, and worked on some of the Westridge School campus projects. Here's a little doodle he did of himself. Whit passed away in 2002 after moving up to Oregon.

Three significant buildings on the Westridge Quad were designed by Whit: the Seeley G. Mudd Science Building, with three fully-equipped Upper School laboratories and a computer technology center, the Laurie and Susan Frank Art Studio and the Hoffman Gymnasium. An earlier structure, Ranney House, and parking lot expansion was completed in 1985.

His work spanned the entire spectrum from whimsical work to serious industrial facilities, to theme parks and fairs, campuses, commercial buildings, and medical office structures. He and Wayne worked with Julius Shulman who photographed, among other things, the Mobil Gas Station. His work was unique, always took a different view of a building's program and gave it a special twist that changed its standard typology to something special. His early career started with working in the office of Harwell Hamilton Harris, where he became involved with the Case Study project designs.
The Neighborhood Church campus is still partially intact, the Sanctuary has been remodeled somewhat - the wistaria trellis is gone - and some outbuildings were demolished for a large structure. But the original vision of the campus as a totemic and austere wooded grove remains, reflecting the essence of Emerson and Thoreau that grounds the church philosophy. It still retains the original Cole House by Greene and Greene at the heart of the campus, at the minister's request; that's an interesting story.

His most radical work remains unbuilt, with A. Quincy Jones in 1945 for the Case Study homes: unbuilt Case Study #5 and unbuilt Case Study #12. As an example of the principle that no good deed goes unpunished, his Crestwood Hills home design was destroyed in 2007 to make room for paving. This nearly happened to the 1414 Fair Oaks Office Building, before the community and our Smith and Williams "alumni group" intervened.

Obie Bowman has done a very interesting interview with Whit in 1992, download it here.

Postscript 10/15/09: Look what just turned up. Here's a picture of Whit and Lee Hershberger back in their salad days. Taken in 1961.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Free Spirit

Wayne Williams FAIA passed away in November of 2007, a uniquely creative and engaging person who had a major impact on regional design and architecture here in South Pasadena, centered in the 1414 Fair Oaks complex that was the nexus of a very accomplished group, as well as many others of us who worked there over the years. His philosophy was a highly collaborative, process-oriented design approach grounded in science and an integration of the environment that mirrored the early modern influence of asian sensibilities.

Wayne's career is particularly highlighted by his interest in and accomplishment in the areas of city planning and recreation, which is evidenced in his 1963 nomination to the Fellowship of the American Institute of Architects:

“…it is in the wider aspects of city planning and the coordination of buildings, non-buildings and open spaces into a human scaled, unified entity that Mr. Williams deserves special attention.”

Mr. Williams was instrumental in forming ‘Community Facilities Planners,’ an association of consultants which makes possible professional collaboration on complex planning projects.

Mr. William’s special interest is recreation, not only in its usual sense and definition, but in an attitude toward life, which might very well fuse our work and play together so that they are indistinguishable.”
The aesthetic environment that Wayne Williams, Whit Smith, and Garrett Eckbo created out of steel, stucco, wood, glass, plants and water in 1958 at 1414 Fair Oaks in South Pasadena became a creative crucible for interdisciplinary approaches to community design and planning. The chief designer was Bob Thorguson and the project director was Shig Eddow. The garden court office building was a virtual creative cloister for architects, engineers, city planners and interior, landscape and graphic designers. The building was considered a very progressive and important example of contemporary Modern design and collected an impressive array of awards.

Projects developed by the firm of Smith & Williams also include the 1965 Friend Paper Co. on Green Street in Pasadena, a mid-century modern building recently adapted for mixed use, and their 1956 Mobil gas station on Harbor Boulevard in Anaheim. Community Master Plan designs were a key component of their practice, such as suburban layouts for Mission Bay Park in San Diego and California City in Kern County.

In retrospect, Williams noted: “ The…idea was to surround ourselves with the best and the brightest from other disciplines that we could learn from and enjoy working with: Garrett Eckbo, Simon Eisner, John Kariotis, Edgardo Contini, A. Quincy Jones and many others. Some moved in, while others continued to collaborate while maintaining offices elsewhere.”

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Jetsons are Historic

The Los Angeles Times noted last week that the more recent architecture and designs of the "Early Modern" period are now eligible for historic designation, as are most of the boomers that lived that era. Many of them are the Case Study homes built from designs by Buff and Hensman, Smith and Williams, Cal Straub, Richard Neutra, Pierre Konig and A.Quincy Jones, mostly fellas from the USC architecture school who practiced in the post-war era. These were documented by Esther McCoy in her tome, "Blueprints for Modern Living" Others from the USC group include Lyman Ennis and James Pulliam. They were a very integrated group that worked in concert with each other on many occasions, sharing a value system of streamlined international interpretation at the small scale. For example, Whitney Smith worked for Harwell Hamilton Harris, and later teamed up with Wayne Williams, a student of his at USC, for a productive career in residential, industrial and small commercial projects. Their design archives are here in Wonderland.

A subgenre of early modern in Los Angeles is Googie architecture, a wonderfully "flip" commercial design style that borders on cheap flash. Nothing reserved about this style! This was famously used in family restaurants and coffee shops, and of course the Theme Building at LAX. It was a slightly later period that is now hitting the 50-year mark to the delight of Jetson fans all over the country, since these buildings are now eligible for the historic designation that brings tax breaks and renovation crews. This style was a celebration of the loopy, modern spaceship meme that permeated the advertising slant of this kind of design; a very animated and out-of-the-box public display of 60's optimism, along with those big car fins and Schwinn Radio Flyer bikes.

With the preservation and adaptive reuse of the best of these structures, there's a hope of retaining the vitality, character and scale of the urban fabric established during this era.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Is "Green" Revolutionary?

The “dead peasant insurance” recently exposed in Michael Moore's movie has been around for decades, in a different form, known as COLI. In 2006, it was supposedly amended to require knowledge and consent of the insured. To quote:

Notice and Consent Requirements. The Employee must :

1. Be notified in writing that the employer intends to insure the employee’s life and the maximum face amount for which the employee could be insured at the time the contract is issued.
2. Provide written consent to be insured under the contract during and after active employment.
3. Be informed in writing that the employer will be the beneficiary of any death benefits.

What we're seeing now is Wall Street's move to collateralize and make a profit on COLI bundled policies, the exact same fiscal nuclear waste typology that created the mortgage meltdown in this country and abroad. In order to feed it, same thing, the companies are vastly increasing their use of this to all levels of employees, no longer just in the executive suite. So investors are waiting for workers to die, which apparently the health insurance industry doesn't seem to mind facilitating through their withdrawals, denials and their recission policies.

Given that our entire financial system is being run by folks who've hit the jackpot and use all means to continue to scale the great wealth divide, it's time to fully hold corporations accountable in their acts against not only most of the citizens of this country and the globe, but also force accountability for the environmental impacts of their behavior. The abuse of a small "privileged" group of the far larger population has led to disastrous events of chaos throughout history, and it's now leading to the unraveling of natural systems and processes as well. No pulling up the drawbridge on this issue, there's no place to run.

So guess what the revolution's going to be about.

Causes of the French Revolution include the following (substitute "environmentalism" for "Enlightenment Ideals")

A poor economic situation and an unmanageable national debt were both caused and exacerbated by the burden of a grossly inequitable system of taxation, the massive spending of Louis XVI and the many wars of the 18th century;

A resentment of royal absolutism;

An aspiration for liberty and republicanism;

A resentment of manorialism (seigneurialism) by peasants, wage-earners, and, to a lesser extent, the bourgeoisie;

The rise of Enlightenment ideals;

Food scarcity in the months immediately before the revolution;

High unemployment and high bread prices resulting in the inability to purchase food;

A resentment of noble privilege and dominance in public life by the ambitious professional classes;

A resentment of religious intolerance;

The failure of Louis XVI to deal effectively with these problems.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Pickle Jar

You remember ship in a bottle? Well, the pickle jar will do for trains and subways. Particularly the old rails and subways that used to run in Los Angeles before the Federal Highway Program of 1956 decimated the local rail system developed by Henry Huntington and his partners, and thus begat sprawl. Huell Howser recently re-visited the Subway Terminal Building in Los Angeles, which was the nexus of the Red Car Tunnels in downtown LA, subsequently abandoned and is being filled in for condo development. It's now an LA City Cultural and Historic monument.

The picture above is the Belmont Tunnel substation, near the tunnel entrance, which was originally a mile-long commuter route between Westlake and downtown. During the Cold War it was used to store emergency rations in case of nuclear war. The last segment of it was demolished for a condo development, which converted the Subway Terminal Building into Metro 417 and Pacific Electric Lofts.

The KCET program, Subway Terminal Update, California's Gold, from Huell Howser, revisits the Red Car Tunnels under Los Angeles and the tunnel entrance at Belmont Station. It expands on his earlier episode of exploring the tunnel and subterranean infrastructure. It's a fascinating exploration of the old tunnels, boarding platforms and back room subterranean equipment and storage areas. However, some public criticism of his showcasing of historic neighborhoods on public television has raised controversy. On the one hand, he's provided KCET with some very prominent historic examination of the old Los Angeles neighborhoods, called Interactive LA.

But now this: Huell Howser, enemy of historic preservation:

One would think that Huell Howser, the renowned public-television host of "California Gold," would be an advocate for preserving the state's historic treasures. Unfortunately, in agreeing to do a 14-part PR series for government redevelopment agencies, Howser is supporting those who actively bulldoze California's history.

Public Television Program Shills for Redevelopment Agencies:

August 2, 2009 – The LA Times reports how “The California Redevelopment Assn. and its partners have put up $320,000 to help Howser produce 14 episodes highlighting the achievements of redevelopment projects around the state, part of an attempt to convince Californians that they should care about this little-understood arm of government that receives and spends more than $5 billion a year in property taxes.” The article truly exposes how public television can be exploited to shape public opinion. Unfortunately, reporter Huell Howser did not profile the countless examples of redevelopment projects that involve demolishing people’s homes and small businesses (livelihoods), only for developers to walk away from the projects.

Jes' strummin' on the old banjo...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Of Angels and Hockey Sticks

The climate controversy continues. More emerging disputations of data and research on the methodologies used in determining the impact, if any, on human habitation on the environment. These are coming out all over the press and the media.

From Marc Sheppard:

For years, claims that UN climate reports represent the consensus of the majority of international scientists have been mindlessly accepted and regurgitated by left-leaning policy makers and the media at large. But in the past week or so, it’s become more apparent than ever that those who’ve accused the international organization of politicizing science and manipulating data have been right all along. This latest disclosure again concerns what has become the favorite propaganda propagation tool of climate activists -- the infamous “Hockey Stick Graph.” The familiar reconstruction, which deceitfully depicts last millennium’s global temperatures as flat prior to a dramatic upturn last century, has been displayed and touted ad nauseum as irrefutable proof of unprecedented and, therefore, anthropogenic, global warming (AGW).

From Ross McKitrick, Financial Post. Ross McKitrick is a professor of environmental economics at the University of Guelph, and coauthor of Taken By Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy and Politics of Global Warming:

Beginning in 2003, I worked with Stephen McIntyre to replicate a famous result in paleoclimatology known as the Hockey Stick graph. Developed by a U.S. climatologist named Michael Mann, it was a statistical compilation of tree ring data supposedly proving that air temperatures had been stable for 900 years, then soared off the charts in the 20th century.

In this article, he goes on to add:

The IPCC review process, of which I was a member last time, is nothing at all like what the public has been told: Conflicts of interest are endemic, critical evidence is systematically ignored and there are no effective checks and balances against bias or distortion.

The controversy centers on the profits that a cap-and-trade system would bring to entities running this kind of a brokerage. Not to mention the protectionism, gambling and profiteering that would skew the benefits of carbon reduction, which has already happened in the early forms of cap-and-trade. And the benchmarks themselves, being tied to one dimension of an ecosystem - temperature variability recorded in the fossil records - are arguably manipulated through data wars.

There's an entire confluence of ecological impacts that are created by human habitation, all of which result in the depletion of natural resources and systems. Drying watersheds, melting ice caps, disintegrating ecosystems, acidic oceans, terminally polluted water sources, accumulations of toxins, plastics and endocrine disruptors throughout the food chain, changes in atmospheric structures (Hadley Cells) that create and enlarge deserts, and on and on. The cumulative effects are clear, even as the arguments mount over how many angels dance on the head of a pin. Industry itself is pushing for change.

So, clearly, our human society needs to work within natural cycles and their variability by reducing our footprint and allowing the diversity of nature to flourish, rather than clogging the works with waste material and waste heat. If we could only figure out how to profit from the other half of the industrial cycle which returns elements to their natural state and pulls our habitats and industrial interventions back into a balanced existence with wild creatures and terrain. A carbon tax, applied to all production and used to pay for better, more effective technologies, would accelerate the change needed to accomplish the neutralization of our human impact as we learn how to complete the circle.

An example of a regulatory mechanism that relies on a factual basis for making judgements is San Francisco's Precautionary Principle, used to evaluate environmental impacts by assessing possible harm, not direct causation. The Hippocratic Oath...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Is "Green" Socialist?

The epithets thrown at Obama at this time for being "socialist" is classic baiting by a far right fringe in an attempt to undermine public dialogue on sustainable practices and governance from the center. The same problem exists with the issues that experience a tension between old-line capitalists and the newly Gore-invigorated environmental movement. Polarizing the public dialogue is poisoning the ability of the public to participate in a rational discussion; there's a huge political spectrum that's excluded from the table, to the detriment of fresh ideas and real consensus in solving the massive problems we're facing. These discussions require a creative, progressive approach done in a collaborative fashion. That's being cat-called from the far right, which needs to preserve the status quo, fearing change.

A (very long) article in DSP (in Australia) provides a discussion of the roots of the history of environmental politics and traces its evolution as a political philosophy:

In principle, of course, all agree that "the polluter pays", but if ever there was a principle more honoured in the breach than the observance, this surely is it. For instance, in 1993 the then-new Clinton administration, with Al Gore (author of the "visionary" Earth in the Balance) as vice-president, tried to pass a very mild tax on non-renewable forms of energy, only to be smashed into line by the fossil-fuel lobby. And as Saul Landau comments on another flagrant example: We punish sinners like Exxon, whose oiler [the Exxon Valdez] did not have proper safety equipment, by making it pay for the cleanup and fining it. But modern corporations have delay experts, called corporate lawyers, who find loopholes to forestall both the cleanup and the penalty procedures. Indeed, Exxon has barely felt the cruel lash of justice as it offers $80 billion to buy oil giant Mobil.

Where do these "green" policies fall today? We could map it like Paulitics does, taking all aspects of its ideology and plotting it somewhere onto the social liberal and economic left quadrant, probably to the right of the Dali Lama, since green has become mainstream economics, of late. It has to, in order to be acceptable to industry and commerce and lay the groundwork for a new approach to economics and profit in a sustainable way.

Politically, we have an interesting moment of "rapprochement" coming up in February of 2010. Sponsored by Westfield - a major commercial developer - former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush are slated to appear together at the American Jewish University Series, tickets available here. These former Presidents, each of whom faced attacks from the other party's extreme fringe, are going to calmly discuss a loaded topic like the policies of Israel? On a platform provided by a Jewish University?

The pro-zionists have found some strange bedfellows, indeed. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Astroturf vs a Greensward

This is important.

In a world where tweeting and blogs are replacing hard news reporting, and the big media echo chamber controls the spin, It's harder and harder to spot "the real". The corporations buy politicians and votes and can afford to put out commercials that spin "Green" to their advantage, for example. Today, we have astroturf, which is artificial grassroots representation, bought and paid for. Talk about cynical. Talk about old techniques that have moved into the internet.

As an example, take agribusiness and water in California's central valley, specifically Fresno. An Alternet article about the recent Fresno killing rampage examines a reaction to the repressive agribusiness war with the water industry. The political leverage created by the manipulation that produced this sequence of events is astroturfing by a PR company paid by industry to create a divide between those "liberal environmentalists" and "honest labor", a classic divide-and-conquer strategy:

"Taking astroturfing to a new and darker level, in April, agribusiness interests gang-pressed a couple thousand migrant Latino farmworkers into "marching" 50 miles over four days in the scorching Central Valley sun, calling for the repeal of the Endangered Species Act and for taking out the taxpayer credit card to finance and subsidize more cheap water."

"The New York Times reported that marchers were paid by their employers, something I haven't seen since Russian Vladimir Putin's PR goons would bus in thousands of workers and students for rallies that either were bribed into attending, or told they better attend."

Nothing new. I've worked for companies in more than one state that informed employees that they must donate to certain politicians (sometimes reimbursed) or programs out of their measly salary. I've also run public hearings where folks are bussed in, pretending to be residents objecting to a business coming to town that doesn't pose a problem to anyone except a local business with connections.

This is insane politics protecting old-economy process and methods that can't adapt to the new realities. It's moving into dangerous territory, as is portrayed so well by Michael Moore in his Goldman-Sachs funded movie, "Capitalism: A Love Story", where the backlash against corporate suffocation of the middle class and the environmental destruction bullwhips workers into a sit-down revolt reminiscent of those in 1937 that created the UAW. So it would seem that Moore can astroturf with the best of them, to the profit of Goldman and the political benefit of letting off steam by watching a movie instead of taking popular action. Goldman's court jester perhaps? An interesting interview with Moore is here at Crooks and Liars with a discussion of FDR's "Second Bill of Economic Rights" included in the film.

Friday, October 2, 2009

More Water Reform

This just in from International Rivers with respect to a better way to manage water flow than building expensive dams that seriously degrade rivers and downstream ecologies. Click on picture above to go to the CHRC site: California’s rivers are seriously threatened. Today, more than two thirds of the state’s native fish species are extinct, endangered, or declining and almost every river in California has been dammed or otherwise diverted.

Following up on my previous post, the dialogue in Sacramento around the water management issues is politically dysfunctional, becoming a threat to the state itself, and requires an ecologically-based solution to water use and supply in this state. Lori Pottinger has written an excellent article at Huffpo, with great links, to explain how the solutions to our drought and water crisis need to move from the old plumbing model to practices in environmental flows. This kind of methodology uses natural features, watersheds, gravity and geological structures to manage water supplies for human and ecological needs. A parody on the dysfunction tactics is here from Jon Stewart.

Of note: this little case history of a watershed shows its progression on maps from a viable ecological system to a nearly nonfunctional swath of industrialized real estate due to site drainage and pollution. It's a typical example of conditions all over California as a result of development and sprawl. It's also necessary to point out that this progression results from increasing wealth as well as population. Think of McMansions...

Comes Back to Bite Itself

Alternative energy and "green power" are labels for less destructive methods of producing the energy our country needs to keep things running. Yet even solar and photovoltaic energy harnessing have a downside in the water equation. Consumption of water resources, particularly including electrical power generation systems currently in use, is a huge factor in establishing the feasibility of, and the true environmental cost of, producing energy. Nuclear power has major issues with water consumption and the heat generation dumped into the environment.

Some problems associated with nuclear power are much discussed – such as its connection to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Less well known is the fact that nuclear power is the most water-hungry of all energy sources, with a single reactor consuming 35-65 million litres of water each day. A map of reactor sites is maintained here by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and it shows that the western US is not reliant on nuclear sources in the same way that the eastern US has been, probably because water is only abundant on the coasts (note reactor locations there).

Of further interest on energy sources in the US is a map and charts I generated on "Many Eyes" from a database from the US Dept. of energy. It shows the many different kinds of power generation across the US, and it's interesting that coal and nuclear are prevalent in the east,. The newer sources in the west rely on gas and geothermal, which are cleaner, but there's a substantial reliance on oil. This points to a possible strategy in converting power generation to cleaner methods being the most effective on the east coast, with changes in the use of oil in the western US being the biggest potential for "greening" power sources. Bottom line -
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in their latest (2007) energy generation report, lists costs for:
  • coal and nuclear - 4.5 cents per kWh
  • geothermal - 6.5 cents per kWh
  • natural gas - 7 cents per kWh
  • petroleum - 10 cents per kWh
  • solar - 18 cents per kWh
A web mag blog that discusses the impact of Nuclear Synfuel proposes an interesting scenario for using the extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere to address some of these issues. This is "future science", but presents some interesting possibilities. I keep reminding myself that all energy transformations - heat, power, chemical structure - impact the closed system that's our environment, which has a limited constraint of energy balance. Continual, growing processes that dump heat in all its forms that exceed the system's ability to absorb it will simply push it to failure.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Station Fire - The Recovery Begins

The towering pyrocumulus cloud from the superheated Station Fire over Los Angeles subsided and the flames have largely died down after containment, but now the work of renewal begins with the sequence that follows fire in this region. This fire in the Angeles National Forest was a very destructive, hot burn, and has created some extraordinarily difficult conditions that require some human response to assist the natural recovery process.

The extent of the burn is shown clearly in photos from NASA's Terra Satellite. The steps that need to be taken at this point should be careful ones, with the community in concert with State and Federal agency resources. As Pieter Severynen points out, there are field assessment practices in place, and critical points should be identified and stabilized with appropriate restoration strategies. Many community volunteers will be needed - plan to pitch in, support these efforts and become educated about the value of the forests in our local ecology. Preservation of natural topography and containment of urban encroachment are key approaches. This is in addition to the County's infrastructure repair program, which is basically a clean-up and urban property protection response. Mudslides pose a serious danger this winter, as well, greater than earlier threats to this area.

I feel that it would be appropriate to use this opportunity to make decisions on a regional level about reducing urban encroachment into the forests, and establish better management policies in these areas, such as we see in flood plains, to keep the structures in that area small and temporary. It's the only sane response to the cyclical natural processes that are becoming more volatile as our climate shifts. A Federal court ruling agrees with this position.