Friday, March 25, 2011

CEQA Needs More Muscle (in some places)?

CEQA can use a little strength in places like where it addresses protecting public health. CEQA could use a little help in places like Encinitas.

A few years ago politically connected developers purchased some land in Leucadia and subdivided and built homes on it. The land was ex-greenhouse property. Growers around here used some pretty intense insecticides and soils around these operations have been found to be contaminated. The neighbors of the subdivision, including several technical experts, reviewed the subdivisions studies and found the city's actions lacking (and the city's consultant agreed).

09/19/2005 10:13 AM
to "Peter Cota-Robles"
cc"Greg Shields", "James Knowlton", "Masih Maher"
, "Patrick Murphy"

Peter Cota-Robles, P.E.
Director of Engineering Services
City of Encinitas

Subject: Potential Health Risk at Encinitas Tract 03-009, Barrett at Sheridan and Andrew

This letter is a request to evaluate potential health risks from soils that are potentially contaminated with greenhouse agricultural chemicals in Tract 03-009.

Tract 03-009, and the adjacent site, were excavated down approximately 2’
feet below grade. Approximately 8000 cubic yards were cut from the adjacent site and moved to 03-009 to make the final pad heights. There was no soil testing for agricultural chemicals below grade on either site.

Various reports from Leighton and Gradient document soils testing to a depth of 0” to 6”, find contaminants less than EPA limits, and conclude that these findings are similar to other studies where no significant sub su! rface contamination was found. No documentation of nega! tive su b surface soil test reports or literature searches for similar applications were provided to substantiate the conclusion.

The City’s soil consultant challenged the soil report conclusions as unacceptable, and determined that representative sub surface soil tests were needed to assure that there are no health risks from agricultural chemicals at this site, e.g., soil testing for agricultural chemicals is needed to assure that this project meets the standards of the City of Encinitas and that there is no possibility of worker, resident and neighbor exposure to hazardous materials.

Would you please assure that representative soil testing of Tract 03-009 is part of the final grading inspection. I suggest sampling at six sites on the surface, and at 1’ and 2’ below finished pad height.

Thank you, Michael Schwaebe

After a month of complete silence and follow up request for a response:

"Peter Cota-Robles"
To Michael Schwaebe
10/25/2005 05:27 PM
cc "Greg Shields"
Subject Re: Potential Health Risk at Encinitas Tract 03-009, Barrett at SheridanandAndrew

Michael - Greg has informed Barratt that soils testing will be required on all lots prior rough grading sign-off and release for construction of the housing. Greg can provide you more detail if needed. - Peter

Peter Cota-Robles
Director of Engineering Services
City of Encinitas
505 S. Vulcan Avenue
Encinitas, CA 92024

According to Michael Schwaebe the testing for soil contamination NEVER happened. This delayed respond by the city engineering department was a successful effort to keep Schwaebe from making an issue of the soils. Schwaebe went back to his life only to find out later that the testing did not happen. I wonder how often citizens get hoodwinked.

One week ago Kevin C sent an email to Greg Shields in the Depatment of Engineering to find out if they would like to comment on Schwaebe's assertion. The engineering department did not respond.

Since the Barratt project and the Hall park process, citizens have begun to realize that our city's unique soils contamination problem was being brushed  off by the city . CITIZENS have pressed hard on the city to change its practices.  Notice which council members called those citizens names for bringing up problems their own consultants agreed with.

Contrast what happened at the Barratt development to what happened at the new Hymettus project (see photos below).

The developer spent weeks digging a giant hole. They pushed the surface soil to the bottom and covered it up. It is expensive.

Most people in the public just assume that their government is watching out for them. In some places that is true. Fortunately, there were a group of people in Encinitas who knew it wasn't always true in Encinitas


  1. About 2 months ago, the city presented it's conformance review of the I 5 expansion and what that would mean to issues on the Hall property. The city made some good alterations that would benefit the surrounding residential property. The report also acknowledged that 5,000 dump truck loads of contaminated soil would be removed without any new EIR. Concerned taxpayers challenged the opinion that there was no need to examine the effect on the community with the removal of all this toxic soil or address the effect of up to 16 lanes of new traffic adjacent to the property. Although there was ample evidence that the expansion of I 5 would cause a negative air quality result, Stocks eliminated all positive improvements and any reasonable investigation of negative toxic air and soil contamination. He had the city drop the I5 conformance plan and revert to the existing out of date EIR.
    Stocks and the 3-2 group are not friends to our environment. As an example, he replaced the city's most
    qualified person that chaired our Envionmental Commission, Elizabeth Taylor, with Harriet Sheldon, who has no experience, qualification or ever shown any interest in enviornmental issues. But, she will do what she is told to do.

  2. Greg Shieids is bad for Encinitas and needs to go. He is the cause of many problems.

  3. I agree with the point that Greg Shields causes many unneeded problems for Encinitas. That trouble maker needs to go.

  4. The much maligned NIMBYS in Cardiff successfully sued the city over soil contamination on the Hall property. The city attempted a Negative Declaration [a statement of no environmental impacts] in order to avoid doing an EIR. The city was forced to do soil sampling to a deeper level and over a broader range of agricultural pesticides.

    This was the first time that a complete EIR was done on a greenhouse property. Toxaphene was found at dangerous levels, but it took vigilance, two lawsuits, and constant pressure to get the city to finally agree to mitigation. The contaminated soil will be buried on site.

    All greenhouse properties that have been properly checked for pesticides have been found to be contaminated. Commonly DDT, Aldrin, and Dieldrin are found. These properties include Ades and Gish on Balour, Brown on Lake Drive, and the infamous Barratt American projects on Sheridan/Andrew.

    Developers will always try to skimp on mitigation to save money. It takes an alert neighborhood, otherwise the developers will skate by. In the past Stocks, Bond, and Dalager colluded with them in unsafe practices. Now Gaspar appears aligned with Stocks and Bond. She lives in the Encinitas Ranch area, former agricultural lands that were not checked for pollutants. Is she concerned about her own children? If she is, at some point she will have to split with the men and vote to support CEQA guidelines and not vote to fudge on them.

  5. How about the potential health risk from the dog excrement; it has been estimated that a single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, which are known to cause cramps, diarrhea, intestinal illness, and serious kidney disorders in humans. EPA even estimates that two or three days’ worth of droppings from a population of about 100 dogs would contribute enough bacteria to temporarily close a bay, and all watershed areas within 20 miles of it, to swimming and shell fishing.

    Dog feces are one of the most common carriers of the following diseases:


    According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pet droppings can contribute to diseases animals pass to humans, called zoonoses. When infected dog poop is deposited on your lawn, the eggs of certain roundworms and other parasites can linger in your soil for years. Anyone who comes into contact with that soil—be it through gardening, playing sports, walking barefoot or any other means—runs the risk of coming into contact with those eggs; especially your dog.

    Some of the hard-to-pronounce parasites your lawn could harbor include Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Salmonella, as well as hookworms, ringworms and tapeworms. Infections from these bugs often cause fever, muscle aches, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea in humans. Children are most susceptible, since they often play in the dirt and put things in their mouths or eyes.
    Maybe moms should be concerned and not bring their babies to dog parks!

  6. Area Man,

    On the other hand, we all grew up around dogs and we survived.

    And I'm among those who believe recent peanut and other allergy increases may be related to people raising their kids in sterile environments.

    Let your kids play in the dirt. Maybe even pick up a dog turd or two. Humanity has survived thousands of years without getting all paranoid about dirt.

  7. Area Man-Before I was a psychologist I worked for Squibb Pharmaceuticals selling veterinary drugs. We had to learn a lot about zoonotic diseases. Let me reassure you that it is highly unlikely that dog feces will make you sick. There are only a few transmittable diseases from animals to humans and the ones you mentioned, such as Parvo, are not contagious to humans. They are from one dog to another, that is true. Actually to the best of my knowledge, the only dog transmittable disease from dog to human is rabies. That is why the County will not issue a dog license without the dog having a rabies shot. In rare cases the feces of a dog can give a human Valley Fever, but that is usually found in desert areas and I cannot remember a case of it in this area ever.
    Cat feces can transmit, to people with serious autoimmune diseases, and women who are pregnant, a couple of diseases. So I think you can rest assured that dog feces is not a danger. However, contaminated soil certainly is.


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