Friday, September 30, 2005

Caring For Creation

“We cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention both to the consequences of such interference in other areas and to the well-being of future generations … delicate ecological balances are upset by the uncontrolled destruction of animal and plant life or by a reckless exploitation of natural resources. It should be pointed out that all of this, even if carried out in the name of progress and well-being, is ultimately to humankind's disadvantage.... An education in ecological responsibility is urgent: responsibility for oneself, for others, and for the earth.”

--Pope John Paul II, The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility, 1990

This wonderful quote opens one of the most beautiful expressions of caring for a watershed I have read, entitled:

The Columbia River Watershed:
Caring for Creation and the Common Good
An International Pastoral Letter by the Catholic Bishops of the Region

The pastoral letter expresses, with a deep connection to Northwest Native American spirituality, why it is important to care for river watersheds.

It is part the strategy of the American River Parkway Preservation Society (ARPPS) to create an ecumenical expression embracing that perspective for the American River Watershed. See our website:

You can read the Columbia River Pastoral Letter at:

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Homlessness Solutions, Pathways to Housing

In our report on the Lower Reach of the American River Parkway, which can be accessed on our website, we address the issue of the chronic homeless illegal campers who are destroying the ability of the adjacent community to enjoy their Parkway in safety by profiling the most successful program in the country with that population, Pathways to Housing.

Here is an excellent news article from last year about Pathways, and San Francisco’s attempt to transplant the concept.

San Francisco Chronicle
Success in the Big Apple New York City finds path for mentally ill Housing homeless before treatment bucks conventional wisdom

Kevin Fagan, Chronicle Staff Writer Monday, June 14, 2004

New York - -- Shopping for telephones is what finally drove it home to Tony Bartol that he was re-entering that almost-forgotten world where the sidewalk was not his bed. He stood in front of a wall lined with 200 of them in plastic packaging -- white phones with speakers, black ones with six lines, red ones with voice mail -- and scratched his head, confused.

"I have no idea what to pick here," he said. His hand trembled as he touched one, then another. "The last time I owned a phone was 1977."

A few weeks before, Bartol was sleeping in Manhattan subway stations, so mentally ill he could barely pluck reality from the visions of God in his head. He'd been that way for 19 years. On this day in mid-May, the 54-year-old, bushy-bearded string bean of a man was in a department store with two social workers shopping for a few essentials before moving into his own apartment.

He was still delusional, still without a job, and still not on the medication he needed to address his psychosis. But now, he had one angel over his street-tough shoulder that other mentally ill homeless people still foraging in alleyways didn't -- a program called Pathways to Housing, a New York-minted twist on the "supportive housing" model of tackling chronic homelessness in urban America.

Unlike other cutting-edge supportive housing techniques in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago -- and being embraced in San Francisco -- in which the hard-core homeless are moved en masse into residential hotels with on-site social services, Pathways to Housing snatches them straight off the street and gives them their own, individual apartments apart from other homeless people, alongside average New Yorkers. And unlike virtually any other program in the country, it does this with the hardest core population of them all: the mentally ill.

For the rest of the story posted on Pathways website:

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Sacramento needs a great, big urban park

There is an excellent article by that name in the September 23, 2005 issue of the Sacramento Business Journal, by Dr. Robert Fountain, director of the Applied Research Center at CSUS, where he talks about the great benefit attached to the proposed Gold Rush Park, (GRP) near the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers.

Dr. Fountain makes several good points:

1) "Sacramento is rising to its potential as the economic and cultural center of a large world-class urban region."

2) "The Gold Rush Park would combine cultural, entertainment, commercial and natural areas within an underutilized area north of the Union Pacific right of way to the American and Sacramento rivers."

3) "Urban parks are not just humanistic frills. A recent study of 20 urban parks by the Sacramento Regional Research Institute shows that they are also powerful economic engines, attracting thousands of visitors who spend millions of dolalrs."

4) "The study found that the greatest economic contribution comes from parks that combine the conservation and cultural focuses."

GRP does this admirably and if you would like to learn more about it, here is their website:

Book Review: Public Parks, Private Partners

One of the most important books recently published about nonprofit management of a public park, the core of our strategy for the Parkway (see our strategy at our website: ) , is Public Parks, Private Partners: How Partnerships Are Revitalizing Urban Parks by Project for Public Spaces, Inc. (PPS) whose website is .

This is an important book.

It highlights 16 Partnership organizations, from our favorite model the Central Park Conservancy to the Yakima Greenway Foundation, that clearly show the great benefit of having a nonprofit conservancy manage public parks.

The book lists the reasons for having nonprofits manage public parks.

Among them are:

Efficiency and Flexibility: “A private group can act fast and save money. It also has the ability to be more flexible with staff and budget lines…and private groups are more open to experimenting with new or innovative park programs in an effort to be more responsive to park users.” (p. 9)

Advocacy: “A nonprofit may have the freedom and political will to speak out for budget increases, for increased security, or in favor of acquiring new parkland, while a parks department is constrained by and allied to the city’s priorities.” (p. 9)

Fundraising and Accepting Donations: “Private donors often don’t like to give to the public sector because they can’t control how their money will be spent.” (p. 9)

And the additional benefit of the donor receiving a tax write-off for donations to a 501 c (3) nonprofit organizations can be substantial.

Focus: “A nonprofit group that focuses specifically on one park may view that park, greenway, or other open space amenity more holistically than a parks department that has a responsibility to provide basic service to all the parks in a city or metropolitan area….Additionally, public agencies often can’t or don’t want to manage small discrete projects, …whereas private groups can devote the necessary attention to detail.” (p. 10)

Community Ties: “ A private group often has better credibility with residents and local institutions than the local government does, allowing the nonprofit to facilitate meetings better, and tap key leaders for support and active engagement in the park.” (p. 10)

Consistent Leadership: “ A mature nonprofit conservancy…sometimes can provide more continuous leadership in a park of open space amenity that public officials can, as they are subject to politics and elections.” (p. 10)

If all of this rings crystal-clear and true in relation to our situation with our Parkway needs; to resolve the ineffective management, inattention to public safety, failure to plan strategically, and the lack of a consistent and dedicated funding stream, culminating in the tragic and continuing deterioration of our Parkway, it is because it is.

I urge those of you who care about our Parkway and want to learn how it can be preserved, protected, and strengthened for future generations, to order this book and join with us in seeing a viable and practical strategy, built around management by a nonprofit American River Parkway Conservancy, be implemented.

As this book makes clear, the partnership organization concept is the managment concept that works, and the communities still waiting for their local parks agencies to take better care of their parks, probably have a long wait.

The book can be ordered from PPS at:

Monday, September 26, 2005

American River Parkway, Lower Reach Report

The Lower Reach of the American River Parkway is crime-ridden, trash-strewn, and virtually unusable by the adjacent communities with any degree of safety and pleasure in the natural sanctuary of the Parkway so familiar to upriver communities.

The Parkway can lay no claim to being the crown jewel as long as the conditions in the Lower Reach are allowed to continue.

It is our hope that our report will stimulate policy and program discussions that will soon restore the luster to the deeply tarnished jewel that is our Parkway.

The Executive Summary is posted here and for the full report, go to our website, on the News page.

I would also direct you to the other two links on the website News page, both of which offer additional news and information about conditions in the Lower Reach.

Executive Summary


The adjacent communities of the Lower Reach of the American River Parkway have been asking the Department of Regional Parks, Recreation and Open Space, County of Sacramento (County Parks) and Parkway advocacy organizations for help with the problems associated with illegal camping by the homeless for years, with virtually no response.

Planning for the formation of the American River Parkway Preservation Society (ARPPS) began in 2002 by a group aware of the growing problems facing the Parkway and in September of 2003 ARPPS was incorporated as a 501 c (3) nonprofit corporation.

ARPPS, understanding that the degradation of the Lower Reach affects the entire Parkway, addressed the issue in its founding guiding principles.

The Problem

The American River Parkway has long suffered from:

· ineffective management,
· lack of dedicated funding,
· degradation of natural resources, and,
· erosion of public safety.

The Strategy

The Lower Reach, representing the most visible evidence of these problems on the Parkway, is the focus of our report.

Our first guiding principle is: “Preserving the Parkway is not an option, it’s a necessity.”
Will Rogers, the President of the Trust for Public Lands said:

“The emergence of America as an urban nation was anticipated by Fredrick Law Olmstead and other 19th century park visionaries, who gave us New York’s Central Park, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and similar grand parks in cities across the nation. They were gardeners and designers—but also preachers for the power of parks, fired from within by the understanding that they were shaping the quality of American Lives for generations to come.

In the view of these park visionaries, parks were not “amenities.” They were necessities, providing recreation, inspiration, and essential respite from the city’s blare and bustle. And the visionaries were particularly concerned that parks be available to all of a city’s residents—especially those who did not have the resources to escape to the countryside.”

Why America Needs More City Parks and Open Space: Parks for People (2003)
Will Rogers, President, Trust for Public Lands.

The optimal strategy for our Parkway to be managed in this spirit is:

The Solution

Management by a nonprofit 501 c (3) organization, the American River Parkway Conservancy, whose sole mission would be preserving, protecting, and strengthening the Parkway.

This will create management of singular purpose and the dedication public necessity demands, with the primary responsibility being public safety.

Public Safety Strategy

Though homelessness is presented as the issue underlying illegal camping and that perception will be addressed, the primary issue for the community suffering the effects of illegal camping is public safety.

Greatly enlarge ranger patrols, use horse mounted patrols, and establish a public crime reporting website.

Institute a safety with compassion program to address the chronic homeless and service resistant illegal campers in the Lower Reach.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Chronic Homelessness & IIlegal Camping in the Parkway

An editorial in today's Bee about chronic homelessness notes a new program to address it is soon going to be released by local officials.

What is chronic homelessness:

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines chronic homelessness as a single adult with a disabling condition who has either been continuously homeless for a year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years. (A "disabling condition" can be a substance-use disorder, a mental illness, or a physical illness or disability.)

One of the most successful programs helping the chronic homeless has been Pathways to Housing in New York.

Pathways to Housing, since 1992, has had an 85% success rate.

Next week ARPPS will be releasing our Lower Reach Report, focusing on the Lower Reach Area of the Parkway and the illegal camping that has seriously degraded the area for safe public use.

In the report we will address chronic homelessness and profile two programs, including Pathways to Housing, that work.

The report will be available on our website, , on Monday, September 26, 2005.

Editorial: Chronic homelessness
A perpetual challenge for any community
Published 2:15 am PDT Friday, September 23, 2005

Are the homeless, like the poor, destined to be among us forever?

It certainly seems so.

In the last fiscal year, Sacramento County spent $5 million in local funds and another $30 million in state and federal funds on homeless programs. The city of Sacramento spends $2.7 million a year. Nonetheless, a recent count found that some 700 people camp out illegally all over the city every night. Some burrow deep in the underbrush that covers the American River Parkway, while others take cover on the stoops of downtown business, or stretch out on porches or on the sidewalks in front of churches.

Periodically the city cracks down, ticketing illegal campers, arresting some and, occasionally but not often, prosecuting them. The homeless complain they are being harassed. Business owners who clean urine and feces from their businesses every morning and the public, forced to avoid certain parks, insist that the law be enforced. Police gravitate between being hard, being reasonable and being compassionate. The result is an endless shuffle that satisfies no one.

For the rest of the editorial:

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Rio Americano High School Stadium and the Parkway

The concern about building an athletic stadium at Rio American High School, close to the American River Parkway, has generated some discussion, which this morning’s Bee noted.

The Rio Americano stadium debate: Two factions scrimmage over 'home' football games
By Bill Lindelof -- Bee Staff Writer Published 2:15 am PDT Thursday, September 22, 2005

The San Juan Unified School District board of trustees is expected to decide in late October whether to allow a nonprofit group to improve the football field and other sports facilities at Rio Americano High School.

While most proposed improvements have met with no opposition, the question of whether to expand the school's football field for home games at Rio Americano has drawn opposition.

While the one side wanted to build right away, the other side said wait a minute, you need to study the impact on the Parkway and ARPPS agrees completely.

The idea of twenty foot high scoreboards, announcer's stands with loudspeakers, and several thousand passionate fans, while joy to the souls of those of us who are parents of high school athletes, might not be the best idea next to the Parkway.

It requires more study.

More study needed: Protect the parkway
By Ginni Jeglie, Darrel Lewis, Don Reisner and Warren Sax

The members of Friends and Neighbors of Rio Americano High School support high school sports and the renovation of facilities at the school.

Many of us have expressed a willingness to help fund these improvements with financial contributions. We are concerned, however, about plans to construct a new on-campus football stadium and the resulting environmental impacts to neighborhoods and the American River Parkway.

For the rest of the story:

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

What Nonprofits do for parks

The cornerstone of our work is to see the Parkway managed by a nonprofit conservancy, and the ways that a nonprofit can benefit parks is well outlined, with case studies, in this excellent article from the Project for public Spaces, excerpted from the book Public Places, Private Partners.

The nine areas examined where help can be provided are; 1) fundraising, 2) organizing volunteers, 3) design, planning and construction of capital improvements, 4) marketing and outreach, 5) programming, 6) advocacy, 7) remedial maintenance, 8) routine maintenance, and 9) security.

What Nonprofits Do For Parks: Activities

While every nonprofit provides its own unique type of support for a park, almost all nonprofit activities fall into the nine categories listed in the right column, each of which is a link to a section on that topic.

A nonprofit's activities are closely tied to its role in the park. For example, nearly all nonprofit organizations raise money. Most also organize volunteers and outreach efforts. Larger organizations may be involved in the design and execution of capital projects as well as regular maintenance of the park, and design professionals, as well as horticulturists and landscape historians, are key members of their staffs and boards.

However, the more involved an organization becomes in the actual management of the park, the less likely it is to engage in outright advocacy. Therefore, many organizations stay out of more management oriented activities, such as routine maintenance, capital improvements, and security, not only because these options are more expensive and involved, but because they may compromise their ability to advocate.

For example, if such groups are oriented to advocate for more public sector commitment to parks, they may feel strongly that the private sector has no place taking over management duties that the city should provide as a basic service. Of course, these groups may also engage in other activities such as marketing, outreach, and programming, or there may be another group in the city that performs some or all of those activities, along with advocacy.

For the rest of the article:

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Strategic Planning and the Parkway

One of the most important aspects of properly governing a public resource is being prepared for what-ifs. This is the rationale of strategic planning, to be prepared for the what-ifs.

The Parkway, after implementation of the 1985 Parkway Plan, was prepared for the what-ifs.

The planners, and the enabling state legislation, wisely included in the plan a five-year review and update process to account for the dynamics of an unknown future, a crucial element to good planning.

However, Parkway management ignored the review and update process.

They ignored it in 1990, in 1995, and in 2000.

Finally, after several serious problems have emerged and grown into full-blown catastrophes, including public safety and illegal camping on the Lower Reach, visually encroaching building on Parkway perimeters upriver, and steadily eroding maintenance funding, and the final insult of the threatened closure of the Parkway in 2004, an update process is well underway.

Add to this dismal set of circumstances a complete inability, due to not being able to even meet basic needs, to strengthen the Parkway with additional acquisitions or enhancements; and you have the basic reasoning why our organization was formed in 2003.

Here is an excellent article about strategic planning.

What is Strategic Planning?


Strategic planning can be used to determine mission, vision, values, goals, objectives, roles and responsibilities, timelines, etc.


Strategic planning is a management tool, period. As with any management tool, it is used for one purpose only: to help an organization do a better job - to focus its energy, to ensure that members of the organization are working toward the same goals, to assess and adjust the organization's direction in response to a changing environment. In short, strategic planning is a disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future. (Adapted from Bryson's Strategic Planning in Public and Nonprofit Organizations)

A word by word dissection of this definition provides the key elements that underlie the meaning and success of a strategic planning process: The process is strategic because it involves preparing the best way to respond to the circumstances of the organization's environment, whether or not its circumstances are known in advance; nonprofits often must respond to dynamic and even hostile environments. Being strategic, then, means being clear about the organization's objectives, being aware of the organization's resources, and incorporating both into being consciously responsive to a dynamic environment.

For the rest of the article:

Monday, September 19, 2005

Bikeway to the Parkway

As this recent story from the Bee notes, it is truly wonderful to see the bike access to the American River Parkway expand, and the dream of eventually riding around the county without leaving a bikeway, comes closer to reality.

However, during this period of under-funding for basic maintenance and public safety on the existing Parkway, one does wonder about priorities; and further would ask how many grants have been written lately, for instance, to increase ranger patrols in the high-crime Lower Reach area of the Parkway.

Rio Linda bike trail to head north
The $2.4 million extension may encourage commuting on 2 wheels, officials say.

By Dirk Werkman -- Bee Staff Writer Published 2:15 am PDT Thursday, September 15, 2005

Sacramento County officials are spending $2.4 million to extend a Rio Linda bicycle trail that Supervisor Roger Dickinson hopes will someday go "all the way to Chico."

When the current project is completed later this year, the Sacramento Northern Bikeway will extend north to Elverta Road from its current terminus at M Street near Front Street in Rio Linda. It will be paved and landscaped with 750 new trees.

Bicyclists, walkers and horseback riders are expected to use the new 1.8-mile trail segment as they have long used a 10-mile section of the existing paved route between Rio Linda and Discovery Park in Sacramento.

According to Gerry Bestpitch, a member of the volunteer Equestrian Patrol, riders can get on the existing trail adjacent to Rio Linda's replica of the Front Street train depot that once served the community, can join the American River Parkway trail system at Discovery Park, and from there can connect with trails reaching into El Dorado County and eventually to Lake Tahoe.

For the rest of the story:

Golf and the Parkway

There was probably a time several years ago when the idea of county run golf courses actually made sense, but with the tremendous surge in popularity and innumerable new courses, to the point many say the market is now oversaturated, that time has probably passed.

We agree with the idea to contract them out, and place those extra workers thereby freed up into the Parkway, whose time we can’t afford to see pass.

Read this story in today’s Bee for further information:

County golf links in the rough
With courses spending more money than they're bringing in, officials are considering contracting out some work.
By Phillip Reese -- Bee Staff Writer Published 2:15 am PDT Monday, September 19, 2005

Another bad year or two, and the county's golf course budget will be deep in the hole.
Attendance is down. Fees aren't covering costs. Debt payments are due.

"If the numbers are dependable," Supervisor Don Notolli said at a Board of Supervisors meeting this week, "we are headed for a train wreck."

To maintain solvency, county parks Director Ron Suter has come forward with a controversial proposal - hire contractors at two of the county's courses. Current county employees would be shifted into other vacant parks positions.

For the rest of the story:

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Parkway Camping Citations

As the tone of this front page story in the Bee today about illegal camping in the Parkway makes clear, it is the adjacent community who wants to reclaim their Parkway who is in the wrong, not the people whose illegal camping, related crime, and habitat destruction has essentially taken the adjacent community's part of the Parkway from being an option for public use to one of avoidance.

The tone begins with the title byline, Citations...stir controversy; but to the larger community it is not the citations issued for illegal camping stirring the controversy, it is allowing the camping in the first place, and the resulting degradation of a large part of the Parkway, effectively removing it from safe and enjoyable use by the adjacent community.

The article highlights several very sad stories, which should stir the compassion in all of us, and one hopes the mentioned plan soon to be put forth, doesn't continue to forget the adjacent community wanting to see their Parkway usable again.

They also deserve our compassion.

Ticket to nowhere
Citations for homeless stir controversy

By Jocelyn Wiener -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PDT Sunday, September 18, 2005

Tina Marie Krisanda sat in the back of the paddy wagon and cried. She'd never been arrested before. She was terrified.

The police had arrived earlier than normal that hazy morning in late July. They woke up Krisanda and the other homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks and weedy fields in front of the Union Gospel Mission. They issued 23 tickets. They made 10 arrests.

In the pale yellow light of dawn, Krisanda and those huddled around her were breaking city law.

Some of Sacramento's homeless spend entire nights walking in order to avoid illegal camping citations that turn into warrants, then arrests. But most risk curling up in front of the mission, in the shadowy doorways of downtown shops or along the tree-lined banks of the American River.

For the rest of the story:

Sacramento Flooding

An article in this morning’s Bee reveals that since the harsh reminder of flood damage caused by inadequate flood protection which Katrina has provided us, the local optimal solution appears brighter, with Representative Doris Matsui and river advocate Ronald Stork agreeing with John Doolittle on the importance of the issue, the folly of making the wrong decisions, and agreeing it is time for moral outrage from Sacramento, lest we wind up twenty feet under water.

What Sacramento must learn from New Orleans
By John T. Doolittle -- Special to The BeePublished 2:15 am PDT Sunday, September 18, 2005

As I have joined with the rest of America in viewing the terrible scenes of devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding, my heart has gone out to our many countrymen who have been displaced from their homes and livelihoods.

I have felt a particularly deep empathy for the people of New Orleans - a city protected by a system of levees that is now submerged in floodwaters mixed with sewage and chemicals of every kind.

Beyond the general lessons about emergency preparedness that we should all learn from this catastrophe, one point is especially important for Sacramento: Preventing a disaster is better than recovering from one. As such, I have a feeling of foreboding knowing that Sacramento, also protected by a system of levees, could face a similar fate if we don't provide it with the highest level of flood protection possible - the Auburn dam.

For the rest of the story:

Friday, September 16, 2005

Parks Funding Increase

As this story from this morning’s Bee notes, the County is still having serious funding problems, but has been able to increase the parks budget by $450,000.00, which they say will be headed for increased ranger patrols, which is certainly a major need.

We will wait to see how the rangers, if added, are deployed, and hopefully it will be in the Parkway…. and a final note, Sacramento County was rated a C+ (a failing grade in a graduate degree program at most colleges) for government performance by Governing Magazine in 2002, see article here; . Other counties receiving a C+ grade were Alameda and Riverside County.

County is socking it away for future
With big deficits on the horizon, supervisors dash most hopes of department heads for more money
By Phillip Reese -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PDT Friday, September 16, 2005

Anticipating tough years ahead, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved a final budget Thursday night that puts most of roughly $50 million in undesignated funds into reserve.

On top of about $10 million in new spending that the county executive recommended, the board added additional programs with a net cost of slightly more than $1 million.

That leaves about $40 million for savings, not counting $7 million that supervisors added to the reserve a few months ago. And it leaves a lot of county department heads - who had hoped for a bigger slice of the pie - disappointed.

"There is a huge temptation not to build up that revenue, to not look forward," said Supervisor Illa Collin. "To have everyone pull together and understand we have tough times coming, I'm feeling very optimistic."

The money the county put into savings Thursday probably won't stay there long. The county faces a number of challenges next fiscal year.

For the rest of the story:

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Parkway clean up is nice, but expanding Parkway is better

The story in the Bee today about the annual Parkway clean-up is a sad reminder of the original mission of the American River Parkway Foundation, the organization managing the annual clean-up.

Their founding mission was to raise funds to acquire additional land, as it became available, to increase the Parkway.

This was a visionary and vital mission, particularly in this era of large house-building along the Parkway creating a sharp visual intrusion to our sanctuary.

Their founding mission is even more vitally necessary today.

But, unfortunately, at some point during the past several years they dropped that mission and became a clean-up organization.

Clean-up is certainly needed, particularly in the Parkway's Lower Reach area, where the clean-up crew will be encountering syringes, human waste, and illegal campgrounds inhabited by very territorial and often hostile campers, (so be careful out there); but once-a-year clean-up is not at all as important as strengthening the Parkway through targeted land acquisition, which could benefit the Parkway forever.

Here is the story and a link.

Greenbelt cleanup volunteers are talking trash
They'll turn out in force on Saturday to keep parkway pristine.
By Bill Lindelof -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PDT Thursday, September 15, 2005

The slap of a beaver's tail breaking the stillness of a morning, the swoop of a hawk through cottonwood trees colored yellow by autumn.

That's the picture of the 23-mile American River Parkway that emerges for many.

After a summer of use, the urban parkway also is home to discarded car batteries, cigarette butts flattened next to picnic tables and beer cans on beaches.

For the rest of the story:

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

American River Flow Deal

As this article from today's Sacramento Bee notes, a good deal has been made for the river, for the salmon, and for the Parkway, but many details remain.

ARPPS's focus next year will be on water supply, and the details that need resolving to make the implementation of this new agreement on river flows a good one.

Deal goes with the flow to boost American River
By Matt Weiser -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PDT Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Stranded fish and stuck boats could become a summertime memory on the lower American River, thanks to a long-awaited agreement to boost water flows.

The deal, endorsed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, increases minimum flows in the American River below Folsom Dam year round.

Proponents call it good for fish, anglers and others who enjoy the American River Parkway.
The agreement, especially important in late summer and fall when natural runoff declines and water demand soars, probably won't be implemented until 2007 at the earliest.

Some operational details still need to be worked out, but agreement on the flow numbers is being hailed as a landmark in Sacramento water policy.

For the rest of the story:

Dealing with Natural Disasters, The California Way

In thinking about what can be done to recover from Katrina, the methods used to recover from one of California’s major disasters, the 6.7 earthquake in Los Angeles in 1994, are instructive. I remember with pride how local contractor C.C. Meyers rebuilt the freeway in Southern California in record time, and this article by former Governor Pete Wilson, from today’s Wall Street Journal, shows how that method can work in New Orleans.

I also appreciate his final suggestion about using a nonprofit corporation, working in concert with local government (which is what we propose for the management of the Parkway) as a strategy to administer the public’s trust effectively.

The Californian Way:
Lessons for New Orleans from the post-1994 earthquake rebuilding.
BY PETE WILSON Tuesday, September 13, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

LOS ANGELES--Natural disasters, like wars, test human mettle and bring out the best in many people--courage and selflessness, acts of heroism, and great generosity to afflicted neighbors and total strangers. Sadly, but very predictably, they also generate political opportunism and partisan finger-pointing that is worse than counterproductive. Practitioners of the "blame game" typically do far more to exploit than to assuage the pain of the victims with whom they so gaudily sympathize. Katrina has certainly been no exception, providing an especially absurd and contemptible example of charging the president with racist neglect.

Rather than point fingers, I presume to offer a few practical pointers that I hope will be useful to those who are, or may in the future be, challenged to lead their constituents on the hard road back to recovery from a natural disaster.

In early 1994, a major earthquake (measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale) jolted the residents of greater Los Angeles from their slumbers and knocked houses off their foundations. Within seconds, the Northridge earthquake reduced to rubble the overpass bridges of Interstate 10, Los Angeles's major east-west artery, and thereby instantly shut down the most heavily trafficked freeway in the world. I was advised that it would require some two years and two months to repair the bridges and restore the I-10 to use. For as long as it remained unavailable, it would mean not only driver inconvenience on a dramatic scale, but delays that would translate into economic dislocation conservatively estimated to cost $600,000 per day. The interruption to the life of the nation's second largest city would be of a plainly intolerable magnitude and duration.

Instead, we completed the repairs and reopened the freeway to its normal heavy traffic in just 66 days. How? We did two things.

For the rest of the story:

Friday, September 09, 2005

Who calls the cavalry when Sacramento floods?

Ever since Katrina destroyed the Gulf Coast, it has become imperative that Sacramento, and other cities protected from massive flooding only by relatively weak and very old levees, be prepared to conduct some serious planning and foresight to prevent it.

The option to preventing it is to try to deal with it, when what surely will eventually happen, as all of the experts tell us will happen, a major flood devastates our city, and then who calls the cavalry, which is what this very provocative and insightful article is about.

Who Calls the Cavalry?
The Pentagon was prepared for Hurricane Katrina.
BY DANIEL HENNINGER Friday, September 9, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

"When you fly over the Gulf, it looks like a WMD exploded," Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul McHale told me this week. "Katrina very nearly approached the operational requirements of a WMD event; this was the first test of the high-end capability envisioned by the strategy."

The "strategy" is a three-month-old document called "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support." It describes the Defense Department's plans to defend the U.S. from a WMD attack or deal with the rubble and mass casualties of such an attack. Traditionally DoD has always helped civil authorities contend with the ruin of natural disasters. That Katrina's massive scale mirrored a WMD attack, obliterating a city, is a coincidence. But it raises the question of whether the states, or relatively vulnerable states like Louisiana, are up to the job of being "first responders" to a WMD attack or its natural equivalent. If they are not, we need to change some laws.

For the rest of the story:

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Parkway Usage Survey

In the Bee today it was noted that a survey is in the works of who uses the Parkway. Good idea.

Who uses the parkway, and how do they use it?
To explore funding needs, a telephone survey attempts to answer those queries.
By Bill Lindelof -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PDT Thursday, September 8, 2005

A new telephone survey about the American River Parkway attempts to pin down a moving target: how many people use the 23-mile greenbelt.

There are no turnstiles to count joggers, bicyclists, walkers, an-glers and others.

"The permeability of parkway access makes an accurate estimate of usage nearly impossible," reads a "purpose statement" for the parkway survey.

Alan Wade, president of Save the American River Association, said accurate information is very important when asking for more parkway funding.

"I've wanted it for a long time," he said. "I'm weary of going before the Sacramento (County) Board of Supervisors and trying to convince them of parkway importance.

"But the only data we have goes back a number of years. We are fixed on the general statement - which we still believe is correct - that the parkway has 5 million visitors a year."

For the rest of the story:

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Bee Editorial

As the editorial in this morning’s Bee notes, Sacramento County, the current Parkway management and funding source, have not done a very good job of husbanding their [our] resources, financial and natural.

Let’s hope they begin doing better this year…

Editorial: Still sinking
County's brief windfall is a budget illusion
Published 2:15 am PDT Wednesday, September 7, 2005

This is dangerous financial moment for Sacramento County, a moment when there's some extra money hanging around and a huge temptation to spend as if that money will be available for years to come.

County supervisors must resist that temptation. The extra money is little more than a down payment to help retire huge debts that are looming because of irresponsible spending in the past.

For the rest of the editorial

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Parkway Flooding

In the chaos of the moment a week ago, this story in the Bee from last Wednesday kind of slipped by, but it is important to realize that our Parkway, let alone our homes, businesses and much of Sacramento is less protected from flooding than New Orleans was...

New Orleans flooding 'wake-up call' for capital
The levee failures are reminders of the vulnerability faced by Sacramento.
By Matt Weiser -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PDT Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina seems far removed from Sacramento, but levee failures in New Orleans, one day after the storm, are a chilling reminder that the two cities have a lot in common.

At least two levees protecting historic New Orleans failed Tuesday morning, weakened by Katrina's storm surge. The city flooded up to 20 feet deep in places, submerging the fabled French Quarter, forcing evacuation of hospitals, and creating a nightmare of water contamination and broken utilities.

The consequences, in economic and human terms, are impossible to measure.

But one fact bears mentioning: New Orleans had better flood protection than Sacramento, and still it was overwhelmed.

For the rest of the story:

Quiet Labor Day on the River

This Bee article from today noted, as is generally traditional on this last, rather cool day of summer, the beer was flowing but rowdiness was down, everyone had a good time, and the increased law enforcement helped...

River of revelers
Rafters soak up sun and beer but mostly behave themselves on traditional end-of-summer holiday
By Alison Roberts -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PDT Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Water guns and beer were flowing, but Labor Day rafting on the American River was a gentle ride. In other words, it was no Fourth of July.

Just two months ago, the Fourth turned inglorious quickly when a muddy melee broke out at a place called Gilligan's Island. The spot - at Rancho Cordova's Hagan Community Park - turned into a brawling party of 500 people hooting, hollering, drinking and fighting. Some women were topless and some men used paddles as well as fists as they squared off.

Sacramento County sheriff's officials fired pepper-powder balls to break it up, and about 50 people were arrested. The next day tons of trash - lingering like a bad hangover - had to be picked up.

Officials started talking of tighter controls or a ban on alcohol on the river. For now, they're still just talking.

There also was talk of how to stanch the lawlessness on Labor Day, another traditionally big rafting day.

Between a smaller crowd and a heightened law enforcement presence, things seemed to flow smoothly.

For the rest of the story:

Friday, September 02, 2005

Walt Wiley Retires

Walt Wiley retired yesterday. His insightful writing about the Parkway will be missed. I particularly appreciated the mixture of straightforwardness and indignation he brought to his stories about the illegal camping in the North Sacramento Area of the Parkway.

Goodbye Walt, you’ve given us many great words, sharing your insight and passion with us for many years. Thank you.

Here is his last column:

Walt Wiley: A long, rich career ends with chance to have fun, search for tidbits
By Walt Wiley -- Bee ColumnistPublished 2:15 am PDT Thursday, September 1, 2005

The wheel turns: Right about this time three years ago, this column began in this very spot on this same page every Thursday.

It offered readers work of the highest literary - no, wait, that was someone else's column. This column was meant to pass along a bit of gossip here and there and perhaps entertain upon occasion.

That first column started off with a little essay on what life looked like that week along the American River Parkway: hot days, cool nights, black walnut trees ripening, crows and squirrels scurrying and scolding. The salmon run hadn't quite begun.

The river was low that year. This year, it's high; no salmon yet, of course. And this year the birds aren't nearly so abundant, perhaps because of West Nile infections. However, there were a few magpies and doves, some turkeys, a coyote and a deer very much in evidence the other day.
So it's a circle, not perfect, but pretty good. And I'm going to put my pencil behind my ear and knock off, call it a day. Call it a career.

I'm retiring after being in this business for more than 40 years, 36 at The Bee. The three years of doing this column have been icing on a pretty rich cake.

For the rest of the story:

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Bad and the Good

Two related stories today about government and Parkway advocacy and work; one really bad, one really good. Let’s do the bad one first:

Advocates, who often spend their time trying to get government to do their job, and we have folks in North Sacramento that have been doing that for years regarding the illegal camping and the crime and degradation of habitat resulting from it, are usually and sadly, thought of as irritants by government.

We know better, and our past two Parkway Advocate Award winners (see our website
are people government should be embracing for helping them do their job, which brings us to this story, the bad one:

Daniel Weintraub: Gadfly is an irritant to big donors, watchdog
By Daniel Weintraub -- Bee ColumnistPublished 2:15 am PDT Thursday, September 1, 2005

When it comes to regulating money in politics, disclosure is pretty much the only tool that's ever worked. Sunlight, as someone once said, is the best disinfectant.

As long as the Constitution guarantees free speech and the right of people to spend money to communicate their views to fellow citizens, attempts to limit the flow of campaign cash are so much wheel-spinning. Like water moving downhill, the money will always find a way to reach its goal. The best we can do is track it, expose it and give voters a chance to evaluate its impact before they make their decisions.

That's why it is so odd that California's official political watchdog might soon be trying to alter a law meant to encourage more complete disclosure of campaign contributions by big-time donors.

Today the FPPC, the Fair Political Practices Commission, is scheduled to consider asking the Legislature to rein in private citizens helping to smoke out major contributors who have failed to comply with the law.

The commission's staff is ticked at a quirky Long Beach financial consultant who is suing more than 200 donors he accuses of failing to follow a law requiring anyone who contributes more than $10,000 to a political campaign to report their contributions to the secretary of state.

Norm Ryan is a bit of a pest. Who else would spend weeks of his own time culling through thousands of records to find the alleged scofflaws? But he is just the kind of person the framers of the California Political Reform Act must have envisioned when they gave citizens the power to file private civil actions in cases where the authorities declined to prosecute.

A great advocate and for the rest of the story:

And here is the good story, government working to help the Parkway:

Parkway to branch out with plants: The greening near Estates Drive will help control flooding
By Bill Lindelof -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PDT Thursday, September 1, 2005

By planting native trees, bushes and grasses, officials hope future generations will enjoy a more leafy setting along the American River Parkway in Arden Arcade.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state and Sacramento County are partnering to plant 10 acres near Estates Drive to bolster flood protection.

Levee work was done in 2004, while the revegetation work began this year. The federal project is part of an upgrade of the levee system to reduce flooding.

The dozen or so planting spots along about a mile of the parkway drew some curious looks this summer from bike trail enthusiasts as plastic pipes were installed in the ground.

"When you see all the (sprinkler head) risers, it can make you wonder if there is a soccer field going in," said Trevor A. Burwell, senior natural resource specialist for the county.

That won't happen.

For the rest of this good story: