Friday, February 26, 2010

Pitched Battles

I recieved this notice from the Planning and Conservation League today, and it summarizes the real need to enforce the CEQA process. This group puts on community workshops on citizen use of CEQA, as well as supporting activism in water policy:


On Wednesday, dozens of people packed a hearing room at the State Capitol to speak out against one of this year's most dangerous bills, SBx8 42 (Correa and Cogdill). The measure - backed by industry groups and Governor Schwarzenegger - would allow the administration to grant 125 handpicked projects a free pass from the enforcement provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act. This would fundamentally undermine the ability of communities to participate in decisions that determine how their neighborhoods grow and leave well-connected developers unaccountable for air pollution, traffic congestion, and other impacts of poorly-planned projects.

While the proponents of the bill attempted to paint their measure as a job creator, the committee members and representatives from local and statewide environmental groups, labor organizations, consumer advocates, health professionals, planners, and others didn't buy it. They noted that projects given full exemptions from the Environmental Quality Act last year still have not created a single job, and pointed to hundreds of projects that could put people to work now - without the need to sacrifice environmental and public health protections. When Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) asked for real evidence that the Environmental Quality Act was slowing job growth, the bill's backers were unable to offer up any credible examples.

As it became clear that the committee would not allow the Administration and Big Business to gut our hard-fought environmental protections, the bill's authors choose to not bring the bill up for a vote.

Wednesday's hearing demonstrated three things: First, Californians will fight hard to make sure our state's premier environmental and public health law retains its essential enforcement provisions. Second, industry groups will use any excuse to try to weaken these safeguards; and they have no intention of giving up now. Third, and most important, when lawmakers get real facts in a public setting, they are willing to reject ideological attacks on California's environment and communities.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Mouse that Roared

The City of Sierra Madre has documented their significant victory for local community control on a local blog over there, the Tattler. They went up against SCAG allocations of the RHNA numbers rather singlehandedly, and came out a winner. So the trophy goes to the two City Councilmembers and key staff for pushing this through. Forcing overdevelopment into communities is not what regional planning is about. Regional planning is about actual sustainable practices that reduce the demand for resources and keep the costs of development from being passed onto the local residents.

Citizens have to hold Sacramento and local regional planning organizations accountable for what they impose in cost and resource burdens as well as using actual metrics for the statewide CO2 reduction strategy. Not fairy tales about less commuter driving having any measurable impact on pollution.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What Kind of Dense?

Regional planning is becoming a major issue as the funding becomes available from the Federal government for local projects as well as transit and infrastructure development and renovation. The issue in California is the promotion of a rationale within the SB 375 legislation that uses the need for regional cooperation in transit, for example, as a means of saying that all cities must accommodate large development projects in order to reduce greenhouse gasses, the basis for this legislation.

The premise is false, for starters. More square footage equals more CO2, period. This doesn't work. Red herring.

This legislation removes local control and busts CEQA. That's not a constructive approach. It means no control over projects, and in fact the RHNA numbers that get assigned to General Plans during housing element updates far exceed the need for housing, and breaks the link between the development and the resources needed to support that development that the General Plans are supposed to document. It's just a development steamroller. I've heard this transit-oriented development mantra over and over as a justification for this, and it's not true, it's undermining the very processes that are supposed to keep development contained as a functional element of the City's whole structure. What you've got now is an unfunded mandate to build out beyond the City's ability to carry the resulting costs.

The infrastructure balance is a crucial one, especially as we'll see very shortly with water and power issues (don't have enough to go around). The development community is going to have to work with the local communities to propose projects that reduce the actual footprint of the built environment as well as deal with the local transit issues that feed into the regional ones.

This "drive 'til you qualify" sprawl model can't continue under any scenario, I think everybody can start there. How did it come about? The Federal and local highway programs that allowed sprawl to be possible. These were models that made Detroit, the building industry and the oil companies very profitable for the entire post-WWII era, and never accounted for the impact of all this growth.

Now the risk is getting priced into the model, as they say, and so costs will go up for everything to pay back for that. Sustainability uses natural systems and processes rather than fighting them, which is far less expensive. If infrastructure projects are used to return natural process into place, as well as cut the consumption rate of energy, water, etc. then things will start to come back into balance.

The answer will lie in lifestyle changes and living patterns that are not so isolated, it'll be like Europe - how socialistic! - which makes sense because now we're built out like they've been for hundreds of years. Yet everyone wants to travel to Europe for vacation, it's so charming, historical and small-scale. I think that's a clue. It means the 60 years of unfettered post-war development and pollution (USA produces the most CO2 per capita) wasn't beneficial globally and has to change. It'll change incrementally as people see that the mega-mansions are like the old castles of Europe that nobody can afford anymore. I think calming down the development extremes will make a big difference, and insisting on environmental repair as the cost of doing things. Not busting CEQA, for pete's sake.

We've had regional coordination of water and power by the utilities, and transportation route planning is regional, as well. But the money has been in a growth model that doesn't work any more, and that's what we'll have to address in a coordinated fashion with local municipalities and counties. Of course the means of doing that is the General Plan. If profits can be generated in the cities by replacing or adapting what's built there instead of adding to it, and the resources are there to do it, then that's what's in the plan. Profits can be made with other kinds of development, such as social networking, entertainment, information, community events, farmer's markets, etc. etc. rather than the bricks and mortar that the banks insist on using to base their derivatives markets on. That's not counted at all in the General Plan, and maybe it's time to look at that as an official land use type that produces positive revenue. Right now it's booked at a loss as "public space" which is why all the public and open space is getting sold off.

The way to account for these things is by using natural capital to price in the risk of destructive development. It acknowledges productive open space land uses and counts them as a plus instead of a negative. What used to be simply "for the public good" is now assigned value, since everything has go on the balance sheet these days.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Travelling in South India has its dualities and cultural compressions that bring Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" right into everyday common occurrences. Our group had the special privilege of having two guides who were practicing masters of this philosophy, which gave this expedition a very deep exposure to Eastern thought and practices.

It's a fascinating country which ultimately converges upon some strains of thought found in Western culture, specifically the viability of harmonic structures found in the Golden Section that express the proportionality followed by Greek architecture and adopted by western architectural practices. It's also known as the Fibonacci sequence, a series of numbers that produce the forms in nature, most prominently that of a spiral. It's the set of classical principles that architecture students begin studying in the exploration of form and light.

The theology and mythology of Hinduism as we learned it on this trip is explained in this site, and it starts with the symbol of AUM, the sound of creation, i.e. a harmonic.

A – The Word
U – Sleep: dreaming, spirit work
M – Dreamless sleep: awareness

It's the symbol of essence in Hinduism. It means oneness with the Supreme, the merging of the physical being with the spiritual. The most sacred syllable, the first sound of the Almighty, the sound from which emerges each and every other sound, whether of music or of language - harmonic structure in all things – light, mass, heat, gravity, living processes, natural forms.

In the Upanishads this sacred syllable appears as a mystic sound, regarded by scriptures as the very basis of every other sacred mantra (hymn). It is the sound not only of origination but also of dissolution. The past, present and future are all included in this one sound and even all that transcends this configuration of time is also implied in AUM. It represents the TRIMURTI (trinity) of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Shiva's drum produced this sound and through it came the notes of the octave scale. Thus by this sound Shiva creates and recreates the universe. AUM is also the sound form of Atman.

Upanishads are the core teachings of Vedanta (around the middle of the first millennium BCE) They postulate universal spirit (Brahman - the ultimate, both transcendent and immanent, the absolute infinite existence, the sum total of all that ever is, was, or shall be) and of an individual soul (Atman).

Cycling back to the expressions and discovery of these relationships in Western culture, an outstanding reference book to illustrate this graphically is "The Power of Limits". It's written by Gyorgy Doczi, who has practiced architecture in Hungary, Sweden, Iran and the United States. He initiated a permanent exhibit on form in nature and art at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, and is a founder of the Friends of Jungian Psychology Northwest.

Look inside the book (First Pages), you'll find the harmonics displayed in great detail here for all to see. It starts out with the Buddhist "flower sermon" and goes into Dinergy in Plants, and onward from there. This world view is one that we all brought home with us, the unifying structure of life and its interconnected existence.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

First, Do No Harm

This term, generally used in medical contexts (but is not formally part of the Hippocratic Oath) has spread to other disciplines as an ethical standard. This point of view is part of the "net zero" idea with respect to the impact of human activities on the biosphere, and that is informing ways that the built environment is now being put into place.

Sustainable communities are being established worldwide, and have been, for decades now. This trend is reminiscent of the "Utopian" communities of the early 1800's which centered around cooperative secular agrarian philosophies and some form of productive enterprise, such as Corning and Oneida in the US. These ideas fermented during the French Revolution which not only helped create our original 13 colonies, but established philosophies in the late 1790's that led to experimental communities in England and France as well. Thomas Spence's writings built upon those of Tom Paine in his "Rights of Man" that advocated republicanism, with the state providing universal education, poor relief, old age pensions and public works, all of which would be financed by a progressive income tax. He ultimately defended the agrarian lifestyle against the inexorable pressures of the Industrial Revolution in 1800, but the written word and poltical will were no match against the economics that ultimately forced many off their land and into the urban workforce.

Today, prototype communities are being established in many ways to attempt a problem solution to the impact of human living on the land, the guiding principle being to do no harm by developing projects and communities that have a net zero consumption of energy and water. At the same time, it creates a delightful place to live.

Our Federal Government is also attempting to fund some pilot projects in sustainable redevelopment using the strategy of cleaning up brownfields, which are contaminated and polluted sites that need urban renewal in order to repair the ecological damage done mostly by old industrial sites. Some privately funded refurbishment attempts at "green building" have been going on in NYC, in fact, for a couple of decades.

Other Federal programs, such as the Preserve America program, steers funding towards the preservation of significant and historic structures in order to rejuvenate the existing urban fabric. The strategy of leaving structures in place and repairing and reusing them is being encouraged. Europe has done this for centuries, they don't throw buildings up and tear them down, mostly due to more limited resources and an older built-out urban fabric at smaller scale.

This is a result of public policy receiving a new emphasis by the current administration, which involves a change in how funding is given out for urban renewal. The emphasis is on energy upgrades, transit, and environmental cleanup in these urban areas, and for fast implementation. The funding is now being given priority because historically, renewal funds have generally been cut as other program costs ballooned. A multitude of other programs are being put into place at the risk of some confusion over the various programs.

These sustainable efforts that salvage older communities and reduce the destructive impact of degraded urban environments, as well as attempting to curb development sprawl, go back to these visions of Utopia, where living on the land in cooperation with the community led to a bucolic existence. The idea, do no harm, is Utopian but has had successes at the smaller scale, in the same way that many experiments and "rapid prototyping" manufacturing produce models for the large-scale implementations. There's a great potential upside here once we find new models of living that work with natural ecosystems and scale up to the big urban centers. This kind of innovation can spur real opportunities to mend cities that fail to work for residents and business, and do it constructively.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

You've Come a Long Way Baby

The May 1996 issue of Boardwatch Magazine featured the now infamous Billgatus of Borg with a story of Microsoft's ongoing assimilation of all that is software in the personal computer industry and the Internet. What's happened since then to the infamous billionaire and his proclamations and philanthropy?

Well, on February 12th at the TED conference, he proclaimed that his top priority is now getting to zero emissions by 2050. End of story. Finis. Just as we have all been assimilated by Microsoft (not). But this is an important public commitment for him to make, since at this point his corporate and phlianthropic policies are close to trumping the political policies of entire countries. No behind-the-scenes here like we get with the oil companies (2 wars in Iraq and counting, one in Afghanistan, several in the oven) and the financial/banking industry (one global fiscal collapse so far). Right out there were everyone can see it and let the marketing department know how it plays out in Peoria.

It remains to be seen how we wrangle out the details, since reducing emissions involves a carbon tax, not cap-and-trade. Along with drastic lifestyle alterations and fewer people. But I'm optimistic that people will want to choose how we shrink our planetary impact as opposed to just driving it over the edge and having the whole thing come down. Like we've watched the global financial meltdown over the last year...somehow just selling paper and crunching funny numbers doesn't work. You have to actually accomplish something in the real world.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Augmented Reality: Maps

Microsoft strikes again. Here's the just-concluded TED Conference 2010 demonstration of the augmented-reality mapping technology. It's an advanced digital way to look at and move through urban environments, buildings, interiors, people, and see the sky...

The ability to quickly see places in digital space will change our ability to understand and analyze physical design problems in all their dimensions without being overwhelmed with data. Many times building design does not take into account the environment around it, and this is a breakthrough that will keep the character and scale of the space in front of the designers from the start. Different "what if" scenarios can be inserted directly in order to approximate probable solutions and generate alternate design options without having to construct laborious models of each one. These ideas can be rapidly blocked out digitally, as well as hand sketched and modeled with paper (these methods can be interchangeable, each has its strengths). This is especially true as most new work will be adaptive reuse in existing cities, particularly with an eye on energy savings and incorporating better sustainable design.

The beauty of simple digital tools is the ability to capture ideas that would be difficult to scale and model simply with paper. Understanding, of course, that the next iteration is true structure and scale. No more rubber rulers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

There's an Art to It

What better way to enliven a means from getting from one place to another? In underground transit systems, the challenge is to overcome the dark, dank tunnel experience and play with those cavernous spaces, really stage-set them. Stockholm is famously the precedent for this, known as the longest art gallery in the world.

It's been around for awhile, but just recently in 2009, Volkswagen featured a staircase enhancement in a commercial that encourages people to use stairs instead of the escalator.

This goes beyond just incorporating art pieces, and creating an entire environment that plays on a theme. In Los Angeles, the MTA took the same approach with its light rail system, incorporating entire environmental integration of specific themes at each of its stations. The architects involved took up the challenge, and it was a fun process with some good payoffs. I was involved with a couple of the stations (Lake Avenue and Hollywood Vine) when Miralles Associates took them on; the MTA has a slideshow of all of the stations that show the different approaches. Take a look, or perhaps even use the public transit!

This ultimately led to a combined venture between the MTA, commercial sponsors and the local arts community. The community arts calendar is publicly available for posting arts events, and combines this with maps and venue information to plan the transit routes. I subscribe to the weekly newsletter, keeps me up to date on what's going on in the art world all over Los Angeles. It's also connected to the announcement listserv I use at Culturenet.

PS More from

Monday, February 15, 2010

How It Gets Here

The massive water infrastructure that draws water from the Sierras and the Bay Delta to supply southern California is a marvel of engineered water channels, tunnels pumping stations and treatment plants. This is the MWD water system, supplying Southern California with its imported water supply to supplement the wells that draw down our aquifers.

I was on a Metropolitan Water District field trip in 2001 out to Lake Havasu and Parker Dam and back. It started out along the Colorado River Aqueduct from the Weymouth Filtration Plant to Diamond Valley Lake and the Copper Basin Dam and Reservoir. Next it was on to to the Hinds Pumping Plant (shown in photo - click to enlarge) and the old Gene basin reservoir to understand how the system uses power and complex control facilities to pump those tons of water supplies up over the hills and down into Los Angeles.

I took a second MWD field trip in 2003 from Sacramento along the California Aqueduct up through the Bay Delta area around Oroville Dam and reviewed MWD materials regarding the water issues in habitat restoration and the restoration of the San Joaquin River flows. The ecosystem restoration in the Bay Delta was considered successful by the MWD at that point, despite not yet having addressed the levee and salinity issues, and the Peripheral Canal was then off the table. There was quite a bit of greenwashing by MWD to the point that growing rice (intensive water use) was justified by saying it was bird food.

One of the best water resource books that I've used is "Water and Land Use" by Karen Johnson and Jeff Loux. It explains the basics behind the numbingly complex legislation and water rights in our Byzantine water supply structure. It's still difficult to grasp the fiscal and political realities behind the watersupply plumbing system that I've had the opportunity to observe. The book shows in clear diagrammatic form the process involved by the water purveyors to prove that they have the resources to provide for the amount of development contained in City General Plans. Water use and Land use are thus intertied in the General Plan documents. This is analyzed in the Governor's Office of Planning and Research, which is responsible for overseeing the CEQA process.

We're now in a permanent period of severe water shortage, not the least of which is due to a built water supply in Southern California for 3 or 4 million people, and now it's pushing 20 million population. This situation is creating a new water market that involves a water transfer system, which is supposed to balance out water supplies. This will be very expensive, similar to the power shortages California experienced in 2001, where the system was gamed for money. The Department of Water Resources oversees the water contracts and the projection of water needs throughout the state, and will be where the action is in the next few years as water allocations face reality in this permanent climate change.

Meantime, the MWD site posts a rather ridiculous call to "conserve" water and consume 20% less while Sacramento is handing out CEQA waivers for huge developments that will massively increase urban water demand. At the behest of these same regional agencies that got the legislature to pass SB 375 and a recent new batch of "allowances".

Supply and demand, I suppose? Follow the money.

Related articles: Water and Sheila Kuehl, Legal Water, Water is Always Politics, Water Redoux, Bay Delta Crisis, Water-Paper-Scissors

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Human Touch

What is it about places that are interesting and passionately crafted into the human scale that provide delight to the eye? The arch of carved stonework, the engraving of metal filigree, the color and splash of tile rioting across a fountain or plaza? That prompts people to stop, look, experience and now shutterbug their way through an urban space and talk about it?

One of these shutterbugs, who has hundreds of followers and is part of a vast international network of "daily photographers", has captured some of this essence in her local wanderings here in Pasadena. Petrea's blog, Pasadena Daily Photo, has examined some of these places that create some kind of resonance because of the artistry of the place. Sometimes they're surprising things in the urban environment that have been around seemingly forever. Suddenly they pop out again!

She's explored one of the more interesting public spaces in Pasadena, the fountains and tile works in Plaza Las Fuentes and talks about how it sparks her curiosity and interest. This public art space was designed by a well-known landscaper, Lawrence Halprin, incorporating artworks by several artists. It provides a rich visual experience and intriguing human-scaled spaces to explore.

A favorite of mine, one that I'll drive into downtown LA for, is the Maguire Gardens that is integrated into the main entrance to the Los Angeles Public Library, which is in itself a cacophony of art and color that references its history. The fountain is part of the Spine art sequence, and is integrated into the public entrance and the waterway that's woven into the fabric landscape, which again is designed by Lawrence Halprin.

The clear intervention of the human hand and eye in the patterns and scale of a space give it a resonance that pure form is not always able to express. The interweaving of cultural forms and their colors evokes the sense of spirit. The sound of water and plants rustling in the wind as part of a smaller-scaled place, with patterns of sun and shade, are the kinds of experience that we cherish in the urban environment. The harsh anonymity of blank paving and walls and acres of asphalt are relieved by places such as these, which encourage people to stop and look, assuaging the alienation of anonymous urban spaces.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Architects' Eyes on the World

Our technology tools are expanding exponentially in ways that see the world and that allow us to evaluate approaches to design and planning problems. We can incorporate metrics in measuring the performance of our solutions to urban and natural terrain with our human habitation systems. Lots of them are free and relatively simple to use, such as Google Earth, in concert with Sketchup. For example, the Google Earth blog documents climate change in a project done by the University of Colorado at Boulder, which visually tours areas of the globe that were documented by NSIDC. Studies such as this allow an overview of a regional climate system and its local ecology as part of the development of appropriate and sustainable responses.

This kind of overview opens a window on the local urban fabric, and can allow designers and planners to view not only the approximate physical terrain and landscape, but also overlay maps of data, such as infrastructure, water flows, demographic profiles, zoning envelopes, existing structures, landforms and traffic flows. The video tour of the Architecture overlay in Google Earth is an excellent example of how this tool can quickly turn buildings off and on in a birdseye view of cities, and then view specific structures as well as dominant landscape features. I especially like the Ahwanee Lodge in Yosemite Valley that finishes up this video!

When the digital tools begin to show us all the important aspects of an environment, then the true ecological and urban policy factors come into play in an immediate way. What took years to study and map out by hand in Ian McHarg's meticulous environmental studies of development can now be approximated quickly and easily as a design tool. This begins to put the local environment into true perspective, hence the ability to respond to all the factors of fundamental passive structural design as a first approach, prior to development of systems and materials of the building itself.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Art and Architecture, Part 2

Expanding on an earlier post, architecture is about place, connections and meaning. It can evoke feelings and experiences with very simple structures and landscapes, and express a deep connection to a local environment. It can also intimidate and control people by overpowering their sense of scale or compressing their physical senses into confined spaces. Creating a sequence of messages to influence human activity also lies in the power of art and symbolism, which is effectively expressed by Richard Ross in his photographic documentation of "Architecture of Authority".

Creating spaces that influence human experience, and thus memory, has far more dimensions than some kind of formulaic approach to types of enclosure or orientation. The International School of architecture tried to establish a global language of space, codifying spatial progressions in a stripped-down classicism that resulted in the "white box" school of design that prevailed for decades. This experiment was probably necessary in order to discover that formal sterility and strictly functional relationships didn't satisfy peoples' need for dynamic, varied and interactive spaces. The reaction to this approach was famously the Post-Modern "movement" and the later development of Deconstructivism and Blobitecture. We're now in a transition towards structures and places that incorporate ecological principles, which will give rise to hopefully more coherent approaches to form, with an inclusion of local character and materials.

Making places that engage " the real" provide a deep satisfaction to people, particularly as we seek to escape the manufactured experiences of the theme park world, mall spaces and the eternal online digital experience that's now shaping our world view. Some of the better and more dynamic urban projects, such as the Copenhagen Concert Hall (which clearly owes a debt to Gehry's Disney Hall here in LA and the predecessor to THAT, the Berlin Philharmonic) open the design vocabulary to the urban and/or natural environment with stunningly successful results.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Zoning Defeats Human Scale

An article by Neil Takemoto explains very clearly why our cities and towns are not providing the kinds of environment that scale to human patterns of use and habitation.

"Human-scaled, creative development isn't getting built because most of the money in real estate comes from institutional investors that prefer predictable, large scale projects like subdivisions and strip malls..."

It's an uphill battle against the current system of financing projects, along with the zoning and public policy issues implemented with layers of regulation, that make the small projects difficult to realize. Takemoto's argument, that a different delivery system for providing these structures and places is needed, leaves open the question of just how this can be accomplished. With the evolving metrics of sustainability and energy design becoming more demanding, and an essentially built-out urban fabric in the USA, the response to this issue will require a creative way of accounting for rebuilding and preserving good existing structures and revitalizing degraded environments.

The big conservancy organizations come to mind, as well as the grant-finding smaller organizations, which would allow for reclaiming land and environments for regenerative design rather than ever-larger structures. Restoring the natural cycles and ecologies as part of a rehabilitation project means that the owners are not forever paying for large energy costs or water supplies. Public policy is turning towards funding for projects of this kind because that's how people want to live. It's beginning to look like people in western cultures are also willing to scale back their demands for oversize housing and consumption, which is key to the success of this approach.

Other kinds of approaches to decision-making and funding for creative urban projects is via corporate philanthropy, such as the City Forward site by IBM, and its associated Smarter Planet Blog. Again, this is about developing a collaborative system to invent new ways of addressing urban issues, funded in new ways.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is a design system based on ethics and principles which can be used to establish, design, manage and improve all efforts made by individuals, households and communities towards a sustainable future.

How does it work? Basically it reintegrates and re-establishes natural processes, largely through nature preservation, urban forestry and watershed management. This can restore the balance lost to global warming, as shown in this 3-minute video from WeForest.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Disconnect

Last night the Pasadena City Council took up review of the Hahamongna Watershed Park Master Plan Addendum for the Hahamongna Annex. As I posted before, this is about the community insistence on the preservation of natural features in this new annex area and not allowing development in this critical watershed. This park is for the purposes of watershed protection for the Arroyo Seco which is contributory to the Los Angeles River watershed and streams.

The response from staff was basically descriptions of road widths, paving, Cal Trans highway standards (???) and reasons why the proposed tree removal did not affect the ecosystem and the environment all that much. Except that it does, and I pointed out in my presentation that we have critical current and ongoing regional water and heat-gain issues that have to be addressed if Pasadena is to consider itself a "sustainable city". It's not about just permitting minor degradations to the watershed.It's about taking big steps to restore the ecosystem and increase tree cover and recharge the aquifer by minimizing paved surfaces and directing rainwater runoff into the soil instead of the storm drain that runs out to the ocean via that concrete channel courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers. This storm drain is the subject of the Central Arroyo Stream Restoration Project.

Again, it's the mindset of concrete control versus the application of natural principles and practices, and a lack of understanding of the consequences of deforestation and its impact on the ecosystem and the local wildlife. This disconnect was highlighted very dramatically last night with the citizen opposition to tree removal and paving, capping a decade of citizen opposition to development in the watershed. The public is requiring the city to be consistent with the statements issued under the Parks & Natural Resources Division with respect to Hahamongna.

Ultimately the Council voted to ask staff to actually incorporate the public recommendations into the final plan of public comment over the last year at various hearings, as well as the input received last night, as opposed to making them conditional per staff recommendations. In this way, the plan can move forward to capture funding for upgrade and restoration of existing uses.

These small victories are important, and hopefully will ultimately prevail.