Dear Editor:

In our incipient utopia of Half Moon Bay, it has been decided by our enlightened City Council that by banning our use of natural gas the world will be saved from the dire consequences of climate change. This decision has been made even in the face of the admission that it would not pass a vote of the citizens.

Obviously a more dire fear campaign needs to be instigated. Justification for this decision posits that building energy use accounts for 48 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the city. How did city staff come up with this data? Is this a statistical estimate or is it based on actual verifiable measurements? What testable scientific method was used and what are the error limits on that number? I suspect that the 48 percent number is statistical gibberish.

Moreover, the decision to move forward has been made without any clear appreciation of direct and indirect costs to the citizens since saving the world is given more importance than any financial hardships foisted upon the people. All because, according to Ruddock, “the 2030s are going to be seriously disruptive.” For fifty years we have been hearing breathless warnings of our imminent destruction if we do not take action. Again from Ruddock: “Addressing climate change was (sic) of the utmost importance to mitigate effects on the world.” Climate change is far from the most important thing in the world. The failure to achieve sound economic development and population control in most of the world are the most important problems we have to face.

Since the importance of the gas ban is obviously beyond the ken of the great unwashed, I challenge (mandate?) the council members to lead by example in the effort to create our electric utopia. Before foisting this ill-conceived ordinance on the citizens, each of you must immediately electrify your homes completely. Put your money out there with your convictions. Don’t be like those forever demanding tax increases but never volunteering a dime of their own. Then report to the people the changes made and how much it cost. I challenge all residents who support this ordinance to do likewise in solidarity with council leadership. If you refuse to meet the challenge, then put this gas ban to a vote of the people. Be leaders, not mandating, elitist ,chair-warming totalitarians. As Nick Harkaway says, “And don’t tell me the end justifies the means because it doesn’t. We never reach the end. All we ever get is the means.”

I suspect that one of the side effects of a gas ban will be the creation of an underground industry for the replacement of gas appliances. Keep in mind what happened during Prohibition: Where there is a will, there is a way if a dollar can be made in the process. I can just see it now. Our own Environmental Police storming into homes ripping out illegal gas appliances and chopping them to bits. Such are the methods of totalitarians.

Eugene D. Thorsett

Half Moon Bay

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(7) comments

European

The European Union just declared natural gas and atomic energy CLEAN/GREEN. Guess our visionaries in the city council are way ahead of everyone else - let them electrify their own homes at their expense and we will either learn that this isn't feasible or find out that they are part of the top 1% and do not have to worry about money.

John Charles Ullom

Come on people! Only slightly more than 1000 hours of staff time at a loaded cost an hour, of around 90 bucks. That's all it took for our City Council to be able to claim they are forward thinkers!! We are on the cutting edge!! Are you not proud? Are you not inspired?

Need another example of something to be proud of? Check out the plaque at our brand new state of the art 21st Century Technology filled but not open very much library. We got the top ranking from some sort of group that makes money dispensing top rankings. It only cost 75K to obtain that plaque. Are you not inspired? Money well spent, for the plaque I mean, in the minds of our City Council and the FOTHMBL. How else would folks know how much money we are saving on a building we can't afford to make interest free payments on?

Sill not feeling enhanced civic pride? Well check out the soon to be built corporate yard. We borrowed only three million dollars to acquire that sense of pride that comes with ownership. Somehow, our city managed for over 7 decades without a corporate yard. And why would we even think of using the land that Team Naomi had us buy back the 90s for the purpose of.....drum roll..... a corporates yard. That only cost us 500K and now is an awesome old trash heap/frog habitat I am here to tell all of you, our lives are going to be even more enviable . Just watch.

Really? Really?? Still need to be convinced? Well bright eyes, I've plenty of examples! Did you know our little city has a Sustainability Expert on the payroll for a loaded cost of only about 75 dollars per hour? Did you know our City Accountant has not one but two, count 'em, two assistants? If one ponders a bit, what else would one expect? How else are thy going to spend all that money efficiently? Are you aware that only four years ago, our city had only 29.5 fulltime employees serving us? Did you know we were up to 43 right before Covid hit the budget, and that today we pay for only 40, take or give a few? What about 555 Kelly? You own that. Paid only 950K. Paid in cash. Paid two different realtors their commissions too. Somebody who knows real-estate can explant to you why paying 3% commissioners to two realtors vs a negotiating a 4% commission with the listing agent. That was great move. Of course our wise and companionate leaders are letting it rot. Nobody lives there. And they really don't have a plan as what they want to do with it. But hey, maybe they can sell it and create some affordable housing!!! Plus generate 3% paydays for two more realtors.

If anything, I always strive to be fair. So to be fair, I have to give plenty of credit for horn of plenty bestowed upon us by the Farmer, Naomi, Marina, Rick, and Alan. Plenty of past civic accomplishments that to this day, we all benefit from.

Do you recall how and why Farmer John and Marina Frazier made happen a 200 K trench, for fiber optic connectivity, between City Hall and the Back Up Emergency Operations Center? The Back Up Emergency Operations Center that the then City Manager said we didn't need and could not afford because, take a breath, we put Farmer John in a leaky mood when we failed to pass Sales Tax enhancing Measure K. Back to the trench. A trench that to this day is empty because, as the once upon a time City Engineer said, "It's hard to find anybody who can install a fiber optic cable"!? Or the that previous version of City Elders paid over a million dollars to design a new bridge that nobody wanted? Or that that same council took out an interest only payments on an 8% loan? A loan which we paid over a million dollars in interest on before we paid a dime of principal? Even more impressive, this bit of fiscal wizardry was accomplish during a time money could be had for 4%!!

Not sure what the loaded cost of all the above goodness is but dang, do you not feel well served? Are not our streets paved better than ever? Are not our sewers state of the art? Don't we have the best community park system? Are we not ahead of the curve when it comes to reliable electricity and internet? Haven't you heard about how efficient and inexpensive our building permit department has become so as to promote affordable housing? Or that your forward leaning City Council takes money from developers and uses the money to hire more lawyers so as to eminent domain the bejeesuz out some private property owners? Can't have no affordable housing on those small lots. Can we all agree that we have the finest legal representation, and lots of it, in all the land? Always have, always will. Admit it. You know it's true.

Face it folks. Life is better for all of your money they have spent on your behalf. Maybe if you had participated more in how your community was run, you would understand why all of us have been brilliantly served, by whomever has been serving us. Think about it!! 🤔

George

Nice; considerate and valid points. I appreciated the questions you pose in para 2.

While all the points that the author makes are valid, I would add one more, if I may.

In 2001, PG&E declared bankruptcy (BK). They came out in 2004. They again declared BK in 2019, emerging last year (2020).

Adding to this financial screwing by PG&E to both customers and shareholders, we have rolling blackouts throughout the year, then we lose power during storms.

One has to ask; on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the worst, what number should PG&E get?

So, we have this unwelcome push from City leaders to drop gas like a hot potato. While saving the world from ourselves, I would ask; where do City leaders expect the electric power to come from?

IF PG&E were broken up I might feel a little better gauging future service reliability - but as it stands now, fugettaboutit.

Another Concerned Citizen

Good letter, all true, and thank you for it. One more point about ends and means: the proposed ordinance, now thankfully on hold, would not make sea levels lower by the width of a single atom, nor would it save one tree or house from a wildfire, no matter how many centuries HMB citizens suffered to comply with it. The proposed ordinance was a "means" without any "end" whatsoever. Thanks to all the citizens who spoke up to kill it.

egtggtg

I don't think the ordinance was killed. It was on the agenda city council agenda on 12/21. They have withheld the minutes of the that meeting from the public. Be careful and vigilant.

George

I went to the City website (www.hmbcity.com) to see the December 21st Agenda, staff reports and minutes of the last meeting (12/21). I read the Agenda and the staff report for this item, but could not find the minutes of the meeting anywhere (yet). I was also unable to find the resolution to this “ELECTRIFICATION OF BUILDINGS” (Item 1.H). Troubling, to say the least.

Perhaps, if the elected City leaders came off a little less dictatorial and a bunch more interested and engaged, they might start slowly, while still accomplishing their goal.

Would it make more sense to require all new structures be electric going forward? That leaves others alone and cost-free while those that want to build here can make the choice of their preference by agreeing or not.

It would be a toe in the water. We could all learn something while slowly moving forward (I think).

Wm. Boyce

If HMB city government operates like Pacifica's, you'll see the minutes attached to the next council agenda packet. They have to write them up so it's part of preparing for the next meeting.

As to the ban, I think some cities are doing as you suggest, mandating all-electric homes and businesses going forward. If HMB is going to ban existing homeowners and businesses from using gas-fired appliances, that would seem a hard sell. My own little selfish concern is cooktops - electric cooktops simply don't work as well as gas.

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