Fire fee an illegal tax
The Feb. 19 article in The Tribune regarding the Rural Fire Fee (tax) mentioned how Sacramento is worried about the money being improperly spent, but it didn’t bring up the most important points:
1. The fee is double taxation for some properties.
2. The state does not have jurisdiction over some areas.
3. The fees were based on outdated information.
I own a residence in Los Osos and received a bill for this “fee.” I paid the bill and sent a protest letter to the state because it based its jurisdiction on data collected in the early 1990s, which is now outdated.
In 1999, we formed a community services district that has primary responsibility for fire protection. This is funded through a special assessment on our property tax bills.
Our property is within a residential section and is protected by Cal Fire under the fees we already pay, but the state has determined I have to pay the additional fee (tax) anyway.
There are more than 800,000 properties affected in California.
This fee is an illegal tax under Proposition 13, and requires a Proposition 218 vote to be legal.
I urge your support of Sen. Ted Gaines’ efforts (SB 17) to repeal this tax: http://firetaxprotest.org.
Water, solar demo
On Jan. 19 between two and three dozen Cambrians attended a free workshop at my home on how to do basic rainwater catchment and emergency solar electric back-up.
Despite competing events on a weekend, it was, said one, quite well attended for something of this nature. My thanks go out to The Cambrian (both editorial and advertising staffs) for pre-publicity, Nancy Carnahan who under some deadline pressure finalized my website at powerfrom sun.com, my wife, Eleanor, who let me bring “the troops” into the house, and the Plummer brothers, who filmed the event and will eventually have a video I hope to be able to show locally.
Soon thereafter, I fell victim to the flu (despite a flu shot) and have been unable to follow up. The solar part of the demo, a high-powered portable but silent and safe unit (with DIY components), I hope to eventually market, and am interested in connecting with anyone who might wish to assist. The concept was previously presented at a local green festival, and a San Luis Obispo high-tech incubator group called Softec.
I do not plan any more demos for now but if there are any groups who wish to have a presentation, I am open to it. If anyone would like to write a short letter to the Cambrian endorsing the practical aspects of what was presented, that would also be nice. Email billseavey@gmail .com
William L. Seavey
Why has the Agri-Business committee of Paso Robles made it more difficult for Cambrians to attend the annual Agri-Business Tour?
These tours provide an historical and current prospective of agriculture’s role in SLO County. Virtually all Cambrians who attend are seniors and are uncomfortable driving home on Highway 46 when fog can make the drive more difficult after a full day that includes a final stop at a winery.
For years, buses have been sent to Cambria to drive us to Paso Robles, where the tour begins and ends. Cambrians pay extra money for this service. When the economy was doing poorly and tickets were not selling fast, a second bus was provided to fill the tour.
This year Mike Ryan, designated spokesperson for the committee, said no bus would be coming to Cambria. It was obvious to us that the committee wanted more Paso Roblans to attend, especially with the tour’s increased popularity over the years.
It just does not make sense for Cambrians to drive to Paso Robles when the bus is more economically and environmentally effective, and just might eliminate a potential car accident after a full day out for seniors. Shame on Mike Ryan and his committee for their selfish approach.
Tsunami debris prep
Over 5 million tons of debris washed ashore in the wake of the 2011 Japan Tsunami. The Japanese Government estimates that about 30 percent of that 5 million, or 1.5 million tons of debris, was buoyant enough to wash away from the coast of Japan and enter the Pacific Ocean currents. The debris is already arriving in Alaska and Washington and larger quantities will wash ashore in Oregon and California in coming months.
Original projections from NOAA estimated that debris would arrive along the West Coast by March 2013. However, debris arrived much earlier than expected. In recent months, tsunami debris has been found at locations along the West Coast, including items as small as a soccer ball belonging to a 16-year old (the ball was eventually returned) to a Harley Davidson motorcycle. The largest of the items have been two Japanese harbor docks that washed onto the Oregon coast in June 2012 and the shores of Olympic National Park in Washington in December 2012.
Radioactive contamination is a common concern associated with the Japan Tsunami debris. Officials have explained that the tsunami debris washed out to sea before the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant released radioactive water. It is considered highly unlikely that any of the debris that washes up in California will be radioactive, and this has been confirmed by on-the-ground testing.
Nevertheless, this is an issue about which authorities remain vigilant. With help from CalEMA, there are qualified emergency responders ready to respond if suspicious debris is found.
In order to prepare for the oncoming debris, state and federal organizations are establishing programs to organize volunteers to clean up beaches and gather data. As the leader of California’s largest volunteer beach clean-up programs, the Coastal Commission has mobilized multiple nonprofits in California to organize volunteers on the local level. Those volunteers will be responsible for cleaning up debris and gathering critical information to determine when and where debris from the tsunami is hitting California's shores.
ECOSLO, the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo, one of the local organizations, will host the first of four 2013 cleanups in March. If you would like to join the effort, meet the group from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 9, at the Montaña De Oro sandspit parking lot. In order to further reduce waste during these cleanups, ECOSLO requests that volunteers bring reusable gloves, reusable bucket or bag and carpool to this family friendly event.
For more information, visit www.ecoslo.org, call 544-1777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kylee Singh, program coordinator
Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo