Dispatches From the Environmental Front

ITEM ONE — YOU WIN SOME AND YOU LOSE SOME, EVEN IF YOU ARE ENVIRONMENT -FRIENDLY.  Reducing the dreaded carbon footprint is good because it retards global warming, or climate change, if you prefer. So, burning biomass –biodegradable stuff like wood chips, almond shells and such, instead of fossil fuels like coal — is a good thing. But solar power is good too because it is sustainable — the sun rises every morning and illuminates all those photoelectric arrays, which is good stuff too — it can reduce the utility power bill to a buck a month if you live in a single family home located in a sunny place, as we do in California. Then there is wind power . . .

Ah, but there is a snake in paradise. If you produce sustainable power on a large, commercial scale from biomass, you necessarily compete with solar power. And where there is competition, there are winners and losers. Long story short, we learn from today’s Los Angeles Times — front page, above the fold — that in the competition between biomass-based energy and solar power, the latter is a clear winner. Geoffrey Mohan, Rise of Solar Puts Farms in Bind, L.A. Times,  Jan. 1, 2016, at p. A1. What that means is that that “The state’s biomass energy plants are folding in rapid succession, unable to compete with heavily subsidized solar farms, many of which have sprouted up amidst the fields and orchards of the San Joaquin Valley.” http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-biomass-closing-20160101-story.html

So much for good intentions

ITEM TWO — WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA. This one is typical California stuff so expect some unintended humor, and you won’t be disappointed. The same issue of the L.A. Times also informs us that down near San Diego, a Superior Court judge has ruled that the city may not proceed with the construction of a lifeguard station on Mission Bay because its permit has expired. In California construction under such a permit  (issued by the Development Services Department) must start within three years of issuance, and here the permit was issued in 2006. The city could have sought an extension, but it didn’t because, it argued, time was consumed by seeking permission to build from the California Coastal Commission, so it wasn’t just sitting on its okoli (that’s Hawaiian for you-know-what). Not good enough, ruled the judge — the city was bound by its own regulations which required construction start within three years, and that was that. Ricky Young, Time’s Up for Lifeguard Station, l.A. Times, Jan. 1, 2016, at p. B3.

Who sued and why? We’re glad you asked. The neighbors — who else? —  complained that the 900 sq. ft. structure proposed by the city would obstruct their views.*

Much could be said at this point, but we won’t try. We only observe that it took a mere four years to fight and win World War II, but so far nine years has not been enough to start construction on a dinky, 900 sq. ft. life guard station. Self-parody, that’s what it is.



* We hope you’ll forgive us, gentle readers, for being thoroughly confused. Why? Because early in our career we learned the hard way that in California there is no right to view, so owners of land adjacent to yours may build on it even if their construction obstructs your view. See Katcher v. American Saving & Loan, 245 Cal.App.2d 426 (1966). So what were those neighbors complaining about?