In unscrupulous pay-to-play Sacramento, the center of political power in our one party state, those benefactors would be the development, Realty and construction trade lobbies. Believe me, they are very generous to Governor Jerry Brown and his perpetually cash hungry political allies.
And that is what is currently playing out in California during our worst drought in centuries. Here is a report from NBC News out of San Francisco that helps bring the mountain range out into the open:
Gov. Brown Declares Drought Emergency for California (link): Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency on Friday, citing a need for conservation efforts and a fingers-crossed message that he "hopes it will rain" soon during what looks like it will be the driest year on record in the history of California.
He asked Californians to reduce their water consumption by 20 percent, adding that his request was "voluntary." Still, he urged residents to do what they can in terms of watching their water consumption. He noted that Angelenos are "doing better" than the rest of the state, but he asked everyone to stop taking such long showers and stop watering their lawns.
The significant statistic is that 20% water consumption reduction figure. It is the same one they've been messing around with here in Sierra Madre. At 20% business pretty much goes on as usual. You get a lot of chat about short showers, Water Wise Owl and drought resistant plants. But not very much more.
But should that water consumption reduction number go up to 30%? Things get much more serious. The applicable laws would then require that things such as six month renewable building moratoriums be put into place. Something that the fine folks who have bought and paid for so many of the politicians in this state just don't want to hear about. Not one bit.
Here in Sierra Madre there is a serious fiscal problem on the horizon. That being, to quote from the latest Rachelle Arizmendi postcard, city employee pensions. "The city's unfunded pension liability is a growing problem that must be solved." Unfortunately, those who are currently running our City can only see one solution to the problem, and that is demanding more and more money from the people who actually live here. No matter what the consequences. City Hall employees wish to retire well, and are working hard to fund that dream. On our dime.
That is why there is so much institutional opposition to a building moratorium here in Sierra Madre. What City Hall cares about most is funding pensions and benefits. It is also what has been driving this April's UUT eight year extension do-over vote.
In their eyes a building moratorium, which is clearly called for in a drought as severe as the one we are experiencing now, is a threat to such things as development impact fees and the additional property taxes building McMansions in some of our last remaining open spaces would bring. No matter what the consequences to our near vanished water supplies, or the now at risk future of this community.
Mother Jones Magazine has published a frightening report about the drought here in California. They are now claiming that it could be among the very the worst in recorded history. Here is a portion of that article (link).
California's Drought Could Be the Worst in 500 Years - Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency on Friday, citing a need for conservation efforts and a fingers-crossed message that he "hopes it will rain" soon during what looks like it will be the driest year on record in the history of California.
This is “perhaps the worst drought California has ever seen since records began being kept about 100 years ago,” Brown said at a news conference on Friday. "We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas."
He asked Californians to reduce their water consumption by 20 percent, adding that his request was "voluntary." Still, he urged residents to do what they can in terms of watching their water consumption. He noted that Angelenos are "doing better" than the rest of the state, but he asked everyone to stop taking such long showers and stop watering their lawns. The immediate forecast shows no rain in sight.
The proclamation is a public relations tool and a way to streamline the rules for water agencies to transfer extra water around the state. And it also gives Brown a little boost when asking for federal funding, which he stated he'd like.
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated portions of 11 drought-ridden western and central states as primary disaster areas, including the three Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara. That means eligible farmers can qualify for low-interest emergency loans from the department. But that declaration did not include the entire state of California, just portions of it.
Specifically, the order mandates that the Department of Water Resources execute a statewide water conservation campaign to be publicized through the Saveourh20.org, drought conditions should be updated through the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture at cdfa.ca.gov/drought, and local urban supplies are ordered to implement their water shortage contingency plans, among other things.
California’s rivers and reservoirs, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, are below their record lows, according to the state's water managers. Manual and electronic readings record the snowpack’s statewide water content at about 20 percent of normal average for this time of year.
So I have to ask you this. Is the worst drought in 500 years enough to get waterless Sierra Madre the building moratorium it so obviously needs? If not, exactly when would that threshold be crossed? What would trigger it? Armageddon? The Zombie Apocalypse?
Councilmember Chris Koerber has raised this matter, and the City Council will be talking it over on March 11.
I would not be surprised if this City Council pulls a Jerry Brown and sticks with that 20% water consumption reduction figure. And in the process reveals just how beholden they are to developers, certain politically aggressive local Realtors, and especially this city's government employee organizations.
And not us.
Live blogging for tonight's City Council meeting starts at the 6:30pm curtain time.