Response to Letter from Norman La Force
February 16 2003
This is in response to yet another letter regarding the Marina Plan, dated February 15 2003. The letter claims to represent the positions of the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society and CESP (Citizens for the Eastshore State Park).
First a few points of fact:
1) The Planning Commission, at its January 22 meeting, found that "there are no incompatibilities between the General Plan and the Marina (Master) Plan, and that the staff address any inconsistencies that may arise." It is a misrepresentation of the sense of the Commission's finding to say that the Planning Commission "did not find the plan consistent."
2) Staff is not passing the Marina Plan back to the Waterfront Commission unaltered as is claimed. There are significant additions to the text which will address most of the substantive environmental concerns.
In more general terms, it is hard to imagine how a comprehensive Marina Plan could possibly address the level of detail called for by the February 15 letter. Projects with significant environmental impacts will clearly have to be examined in detail as specific site plans are developed - but the tactic of preemtively challenging the impact assessment of every possible outcome of the plan seems to be nothing more than obstructionist.
Obstructionist tactics can be valid and important strategies of environmental activism. But in this context they are clearly out of place. The City does not need to play this game with the Sierra Club.
The proposed re-alignment of Marina Blvd. is a case in point. The Marina Plan calls for moving the road onto an existing gravel overflow parking area immediately adjacent to the existing road, and developing a more functional parking area to the west of the new alignment. The environmental analysts made a perfectly reasonable assessment when they elected not to study the effect of swapping the road and parking rights-of-way on the possible nest of a northern harrier in the brush within the Meadow. More facts: The Meadow is 2,000 feet wide, the road alingment changes by only 60 feet, and the road moves onto an area that is already paved with gravel and has no habitat value at all. The plan also shows a new planted buffer that will enhance the separation between Marina Blvd. and the habitat areas on the Meadow.
Furthermore, the location of the northern harrier nest is highly conjectural. from the northern harrier fact sheet at http://dep.state.ct.us/burnatr/wildlife/factshts/harrier.htm:
"A female, after receiving prey in flight from the male, will not return directly to the nest but will make several false landings to confuse predators."
Compare to the statement in the Sierra Club letter:
"...the distinguished environmental consulting firm LSA identified the fact that Northern Harriers were observed catching prey in the Meadow and carrying to within 50 feet of Marina Blvd. Such acitivity is consistent with a nest site in that location where the prey was taken."
Is it possible that "distinguished environmental consulting firms" can be confused along with the northern harrier's predators?
Also, please note the LSA representation of the data on habitat disturbance by "non-motorized" watercraft as described in my letter to the California Dept. of Fish and Game at http://www.well.com/user/pk/waterfront/EastshoreStatePark/DFG-030131.html. LSA may or may not have been confused by the female northern harrier, but they were certainly confused by the 1992 Korschgen and Dahlgren survey report on habitat disruption.
Please apply a little common sense to this planning process.