June 1, 2018

U.S. Botanic Garden

Some photos from my visit there about a month ago.

U.S. Botanic Garden (4644)

Cleistocactus winteri (4782)

Nepenthese 'Miranda' (pitcher plant) (4762)
Pitcher plant.

U.S. Botanic Garden (4746)

Yellow Kangaroo's Paw (4709)
Yellow Kangaroo's Paw.

Parodia warasii (4665)

The complete set of photos from the U.S. Botanic Garden can be seen here.

Filed under Cactus,Photography | June 1, 2018 at 07:37 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2018

Black Rock City Census 2017

Results from the 2017 Black Rock City census are available now, and I think the summary needs to be summarized. So here goes.

9,168 self-selecting people completed one (or more) census forms. That's 13% of the population. The BRC census people say they have good statistical ways to adjust the resulting numbers to make them reflect reality. I have my doubts, but they're the ones with college degrees in the subject, so let's go with that.

Total BRC "population" 69,493. I that means the number of people who came through the gate with a ticket. It does not necessarily mean that we actually had 69,493 people on the playa at any one time since people are free to come and go. It also doesn't count those who get in without tickets, like law enforcement and other third-party hires (water trucks, ice delivery, RV delivery, porta-potty people, etc.) I think last year they said the real number of people would be around 80,000.

Virgins were 36.2% in 2017, which is in line with previous years. I'm in the 11+ category now, which made up 4.8% of the population.
1. BRC virgins

The peak age range is 30-34, which made up 26.2% of the population in 2017. I'm in the 60-69 category which was 4.4%.
2. Age ranges

Highest education: that's bachelor's degree at 43.3%. The 0.6% who claim no education are, I hope, mostly kids under the age of 5.
3. Education

The peak in personal income is $50,000 - $99,999. Those with personal incomes of $300,000 and higher (all the way up to those pesky billionaires) are only 3.6% whose well known powers of destruction should be easily counterbalanced by the 42.4% of us who suffer with incomes under $50,000.
4. Personal income

But when you count household income, the category for billionaires and their ilk increases to 9.4%. Those under $50,000 drop to 25.8%. So the problem is that the poor people are also single...or at least single income sources for their household.
5. Household income

Male vs. female stays really steady through the years at roughly 58/40 with the difference made up by those who answered "fluid/neither/both."

"Ethnoracial characteristics" confirms what we all have seen: there are extremely few black people at Burning Man. Only 1% according to the survey. Compare that to Native Americans who report in at a rate of 0.5%. 77.1% white. But there is the category of "Other or Multiple" which was 9.3% in 2017. That could (being optimistic here) include a lot of people that might appear to be black to you or me.
6. Ethnoracial

Residence still shows the vast majority are from the USA (76.2%) but that's edging downward from a high of 84.3% in 2014. Canada stays in second place at 7.3%. Latin Americans (any place south of the Rio Grande) made up 3.3% and 4.4% in 2013 & '14, respectively. But those percentages dropped to 1.0%, 0.8% and 1.2% in 2015, '16 and '17, respectively. I'll bet we will see a further drop in 2018 numbers. I suppose Israel gets counted as part of Asia.
7. Residence

U.S. state of residence, Californians makes up 47.1% of the residents of Black Rock City [there should be a designated site where we could all meet and talk about which way we drove there and how it was]; down a bit from 52.3% in 2014. Nevada comes in fourth place at 5.6%. New York became the second most popular state of residence, surpassing Washington in 2015 (NY 7.2%; WA 6.3%) and was in second place in 2017 as well (8.2%). Massachusetts consistently lingers at the bottom of the top 12 states with only 1.5% in 2017. Occasionally, it is more popular than Florida (also 1.5% in 2017).
8. US State

77.5% report English as their native language. Spanish is only 3.8% (the percentage who consider themselves "Hispanic/Latino" was 4.9% in 2017). Hebrew reports in at 0.8%—that's where we'll find those Israelis, plus a scattering from NYC too, I'm sure.
9. Native language

These are the numbers for "relationship status." The question was "In the default world, do you share your life with a partner." Answers were No 35.9%; Yes - not married 31.3%; Yes - married 25.3%; and "It's complicated" 7.5%. No question asked about monogamy...not even about monogamy on the playa. How is one to know?
10. Relationship status

Spirituality: "Spiritual, not religious" (yeah, yeah) 46.4%; atheist 24.3%; agnostic 15.2%; I don't know 7.6% [man, this is more of a godless horde than I had imagined!]; religious 5.5%; deist 0.9%. I repeat, Religious 5.5%. There you have it. That's every single religion and denomination you ever heard of, whether they have a nice building on Main Street or if they have secret live human sacrifices. 5.5%. And yet the Temple is the second most popular gathering spot on the playa (last year's Tree of Ténéré being a rare exception).
11. Spirituality

But when you actually ask about religious denominations, you get something a little different. 71.8% no religion; 7% Roman Catholic; 6% Jewish; 4.1% other Christian; 3% Other other; 2.6% generic Protestant; 1.9% Buddhist [only 1.9%?! I'd have guessed there are at least 40% playing at being Buddhist judging from superficialities]; 1.4% pagan (they didn't ask them to specify time of day); 1.2% Pastafarian - you include it as a choice, this is what you get; 0.6% Muslim (if that's true, then I've met all 0.6% of them - I think a lot just prefer not to openly identify); Hindu 0.4% [again, like Buddhists, not counting those who just play at it].
13. Religious denomination

U.S. voting: I'm not entirely sure what to make of this, since I think they included all respondents in this count; That is, it wasn't limited to those claiming US residence or citizenship (they don't ask about citizenship, anyway). So 62.8% (of who?) say they voted in a US election in the last four years. 7.8% said they did not vote - are we to assume this means fully eligible but didn't vote? 29.5% said they were not eligible. Is that not eligible because they aren't American citizens, or not eligible due to age/felony status/not registered? 62.8% voting is way out of line with average U.S. voting, so it would be nice to know if it's because Burners highly value the democratic process or because of the way this census worked.

U.S. political parties. 5.4% Republican vs 51.7% Democratic; not like that wouldn't be obvious to a blind man. I would have expected a bit higher percentage for the Greens (1.8%) but OTOH, Burning Man isn't an environmentalist's dream and being a successful Burner means meeting the challenges of reality head on. Not saying that the Greens don't -- well, on second thought, I guess I am saying that.
14. US political party

If you continue down the report you can find other interesting statistics, like these:

  • Page 27, the use of generators has almost caught up with the declining use of batteries (about 50%), while solar holds steady at about 40%. There are actually 0.8% who claim to use NO power source - so, not even a flashlight (or maybe they use only hand-cranked flashlights). Hard to believe.
  • Page 28, just a bit under 30% say they lived in an RV/camper-trailer on the playa.
  • Page 29, the population residing in placed ("theme") camps has risen from 54.3% in 2013 to 67.4% in 2017. 2012 was the year of the ticket lottery debacle, when the organization learned that, no, not everybody is equal; that those who build theme camps are the people who make Black Rock City. Beginning in 2013 the ticket system was rejiggered to give a preference to theme camps...and others who contribute solidly to BRC.
  • Page 31, reasons for attending Burning Man. This was multiple choice and "to consume intoxicants" came in at 4.8% in 2017. Nowhere to be found is "to abandon myself to orgiastic sex" or anything even close to that. But 43.1% said "to play and experience freedom" which could cover a lot of territory.
  • Page 32, important question introduced in 2015: "Did you feel safe in Black Rocky City this year?" 96.5% said very or mostly safe. 0.7% said mostly or very unsafe. It might have been informative to break that question down by male/female, but they didn't.
  • Page 33, the second question boils down to "Did you make any new friends at summer camp, honey?" And the campers answer yes at a rate of 78.2%. "Good for you, honey!"
  • Page 34, "After going to BRC, were you inspired to learn or practice any of the following skills?" The one answer to this that I really like shows how many are impressed by the DPW: 15.6% said yes to "construction/heavy machinery." If you liked to read about Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel when you were a little kid, you might love Burning Man.
  • Page 40, which of the Ten Principles is the most difficult to practice back in the real world? 40.5% said "decommodification."
    Decommodification
    In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.
  • Page 43, total spending in Nevada (not counting ticket price) averages $667/Burner or a total of $46,351,831. Yeah, so thanks Nevada, for adding a tax just for Burning Man on top of that because obviously we were such a drag on your economy spending all that money and then going out to an empty place in the desert and building everything at our own expense and then taking it all away at our own expense. Yeah, we musta nearly busted Las Vegas, we were such a leech on the state budget. The smell of money could turn any state into California.
  • Page 44, total spending on Burning Man, excluding ticket (and vehicle pass, I assume). This is for those who think Burning Man is "too expensive." 2.2% said they did it for under $250. 7.8% kept it under $500. 24.3% kept it under $1,000! I'm sure I've never exceeded a thousand in any one year, and several of my years were under $500, and I'm not miserable doing it. OTOH, there were those 7.8% who just couldn't keep it under $5000, but maybe a lot of that was for gifts.
  • Page 45 ticket prices. This does not tell you much, because they ask only about "face value" not dollar amount. The face value is whatever is printed on the ticket and that can be $425 (regular price) or "half price" which is $190, or one of the high priced tickets for those who want to donate more: $990 and $1,200. So 86.6% paid face value. This tells you nothing about how much they paid. It's more of a question of who got ripped off (paid more than face value, 1.9%) or got a great deal (by paying less, 0.9%).

Filed under Burning Man | May 24, 2018 at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2018

DHS Planning Commission, May 8, 2018

New Commish
The meeting began with the swearing in of new Commissioner James Nindel. This is Mayor Matas' appointment to replace Dirk Voss. Mr. Nindel's application for the position tells us he has lived in DHS for only 9 months. He retired from USAID's Office of Procurement. He has not been on a city board in any city before now. He moved here from St. Augustine, Florida. He said in his cover letter "I believe that DHS should demand (through code enforcement) that boarded-up windows be immediately repaired and bars taken down and replaced with electronic security systems. The trash on vacant lots between buildings on Palm Drive should be picked-up by the land owners and businesses."

The four other Planning Commissioners are Jan Pye (Chair), Peter De la Torre (Vice Chair), Larry Buchanan, and Gary Gardner.


Amendment to the CUP for Snider Cannabis Cultivation Facility

The CUP was originally approved in November 2015. They want to convert 854 s.f. of their operations that were previously a secure storage room and a packaging room to a distribution area. This should not make any difference in their tax payments to the city. The address of the property is 13310 Little Morongo Road, the place with a lot of greenhouses.

Snider Cannabis Cultivation Facility (1)


Snider Cannabis Cultivation Facility (2)


After no testimony and no discussion at all, the amendment was approved unanimously.

If I understand correctly, the Planning Commission has final say on CUPs for marijuana businesses, so this decision does not have to be approved by the city council.


Amendment to the CUP for Maraparm DHS California

Maraparm DHS California wants to increase the size of their proposed facility from from 20,664 s.f. to 21,697 s.f. and to rotate the building to take better advantage of the sunlight. Their facility will be located on 15th Street (currently dirt) between Little Morongo and Cabot Road (also dirt there). Their CUP was originally approved in September 2017.

This facility will also have greenhouses. In the original plan the greenhouses were north of the building that will hold all functions other than growing. This very sensible proposal is to rotate the plan 180°, so the building will not cast a shadow on the greenhouses. (Kinda makes you wonder how it ended up the other way to start with.)

The cultivation area of the building will be 17,360 s.f. and will generate $218,600 in cultivation tax revenue annually for the city.

The facility will be on septic until sewers are put in there, but the septic itself is only for ordinary waste. Wastewater from cultivation itself has to be contained separately and not put into the ground.

After no testimony and extremely little discussion by the commissioners, approved unanimously.


Sign Variance for the Harborside Facility

Here is an interesting item, finally. Harborside, the very well known cannabis business in Oakland, will be running the dispensary to be built behind the Arco station at Palm Drive and Paul Road, next to the I-10 interchange. Their CUP was among the very first approved in the city, and it's taken quite a while to get to this stage.

Harborside has very high name recognition among cannabis aficionados.

Founded in 2006 by Steve DeAngelo, Harborside is the most respected and largest cannabis dispensary in the United States. Harborside has over 200,000 registered consumers and was first in the nation to support education for seniors, veterans and families with severely ill children; first in the country to offer CBD-rich cannabis; and the first to treat children with Dravet syndrome. Harborside continues to set an example of diversity and compliance, and is one of the prime advocates of diversity, sustainability and economic justice in the industry.

The sign will display Harborside's logo only, shown below. No green cross; no marijuana leaf.

Harborside Logo

The overall proposed height is 70 feet. Harborside proposed a 200 s.f. sign rated to withstand 160 MPH winds. City code would require only that the sign withstand 130 MPH winds. The usual height limit for a sign of this type in DHS is 25 feet and the maximum sign area limit is usually 125 s.f. So, Harborside is asking for a variance to allow this sign. A monument sign and the sign mounted on the building were also included in this package. The neighboring Arco sign is 49 feet high and 156 s.f. The Arco sign is further from the highway than the proposed Harborside sign, so the bridge there does not block the view of it. The Harborside sign needs to be higher to avoid being blocked by the bridge.

In the site plan shown below I've highlighted I-10 at the lower left as well as the two possible sites for the sign ("Second Choice" won out). Paul Road runs left to right across the top of this image.

Harborside Site Plan
(click for a higher res image)

City staff had proposed reducing the sign size to 160 s.f., but the developer said that it takes so long for a sign like this to be made, they have already ordered it at 200 s.f. The difference in size is not great and if the city insists on the 160 s.f. sign, there will be a delay for some months and extra expense for the developer. It takes 14 weeks from the time it is ordered for the final sign to be delivered. The dispensary's owner said they had done a survey of signs along interstates and 200 s.f. was the biggest they saw, and they saw a lot of them. The sign costs nearly $100,000. He expects 80% of their business to come from those who do not reside in DHS.

They hope to open in July 2018, but it may be early August.

A motion was made to approve subject to moving the sign back away from the highway to the "Second Choice" location as shown on the site map above, and keeping the 200 s.f. sign. Approved unanimously.


Streamlined Process For Amending Entitlements For Cannabis Cultivators

Cultivators, if they want to include manufacturing or distributing or testing facilities, have to come back to the city to get their CUP revised. Normally, this would mean a return to the Planning Commission which is expensive and takes time. Last year an ordinance changed this process so that if they wanted to convert some of their area to manufacturing (and they are in good standing in relation to the city), then city staff could make the revision without a trip to the Planning Commission. The proposed ordinance before the Planning Commission this night was to do the same for distribution and testing.

Ryan Fingerhut from High Road Consulting Group rose to comment in favor of this ordinance. He added, however, that the city also needs to revise their ordinances to permit testing facilities in the commercial zones.

Moved, seconded and approved unanimously with no changes.

Filed under California,Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Marijuana | May 16, 2018 at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2018

Photos of the Library of Congress

Library of Congress (4807)
The ceiling in the grand hall where one enters the Jefferson building.

Library of Congress (1916)

Library of Congress (1915)
A bit of the ceiling.

Library of Congress (1913)

Jefferson's Library (1917)
Thomas Jefferson's library.

Baseball - Library of Congress (4814)
Naked baseball players on the ceiling of the Library of Congress.
I've got another photo showing football players.

Library of Congress (4827)
Down in the tunnels connecting the Jefferson and Madison (and I'm sure other) buildings.

Library of Congress (4825)
Some of the floor.

Library of Congress floor tiles (1912)
More floor.

Madison Memorial building (8120)
Columns at the entrance to the Madison Memorial Building.

Madison Memorial Building (5943)

Click here to see all 22 of my photos from the Library of Congress.

Filed under Architecture,Art,Books,History,Politics,Science | May 15, 2018 at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2018

Desert Hot Springs City Council, May 1, 2018

Approval of the Agenda

Item 12 on the agenda (in the consent calendar) was to approve the second reading of the development agreement with Desert Land Ventures, who intend to build a large development along I-10 that would include cannabis facilities along with other uses. Mayor Scott Matas said that Desert Land Ventures had asked to have the item pulled and continued until the next council meeting on May 15. Councilmember Russell Betts made a motion to approve the agenda without pulling that item. His motion failed for lack of a second. Councilmember Yvonne Parks moved to approve the agenda, pulling the item and continuing it until May 15. Mayor Pro Tem Anayeli Zavala seconded. Approved 4-1 with Mr. Betts voting against.


Public Comments

Rene Hickey, who has been involved in the operation of the Wardman Park pool for the last several years, disagreed with the negative assessment of the condition of the pool reported by staff at the previous council meeting.

Mike Picardi said the Angel View outlet store on Dillon has installed their public art. The artwork was created by students at Painted Hills Middle School. The Community and Cultural Affairs Commission will present a battle of the bands concert Friday, June 15, 5-9 PM, in Tedesco Park. Additional concerts will take place on the third Friday of July, August and September.

Greta Carter commented on item 17 on the previous city council agenda for April 17. Item 17 was the second reading of an ordinance that clarified that marijuana dispensaries could engage in "light" manufacturing. She asked that the item be returned to a future agenda so that she could explain the details of financial operations caused by that item. She said it created an inequity between dispensaries and cultivators.

Simone Sandoval, who works for High Road Consulting Group, wanted the city council to get moving on permitting cannabis sales in hotels.

Ryan Fingerhut, also of High Road Consulting Group, said the Brown Act made it difficult for him to speak with the city council members. He wanted the city council to have a study session on permitting microbusinesses.

Peter [no last name given] said that his motor vehicle was towed. He told the tow driver to drop the vehicle because his medication was in it, but he did not drop it. He said the tow company had no permit to operate in the city. He wants the city to regulate this. He seemed to suggest it was his HOA that ordered the tow. He said the HOA was controlled by a dictator.

Jan Pye said that public servant recognition week is May 6-12.

Dora de la Cruz expressed her support for a traffic light at Palm Drive and Camino Aventura. She is afraid she will be the target of retribution by the trailer park where she lives.

John Sclafani of Desert Land Ventures expressed his support for a study session dealing with marijuana businesses.

James Velasquez from Vets Leaf also expressed his support for that study session.

City Manager's report

City Manager Charles Maynard had Community Development Director Danny Porras provide the current status of a traffic signal at Palm Drive and Camino Aventura. It was determined that the intersection met all the requirements for a new traffic light. The design should be completed and construction started within two months. It will be the first of more traffic lights that will be installed along Palm. The city will also install medians to eliminate a left turn conflict. The stop line will be place behind the exit/entrance for the mobile home park on the west. They are also looking at being able to double traffic fines and installing additional signs.

Mr. Maynard said that the city is working on two different licenses for canna-tourism. One will be for use in hotels and spas; the second will be for tasting rooms in cultivation sites. He said there will be a study session on the subject within the next month.


Council Member Reports

At a previous council meeting a private developer's proposal to annex a triangle of land on the southwest corner of Little Morongo and Two Bunch Palms Trail into the city (it would be zoned industrial so it could be a site for marijuana cultivation) was discussed. LAFCO may want to make that annexation contingent upon the city also annexing Cholla Gardens, which the city does not want to do because of the expense of upgrading the roads there, among other good reasons. At this meeting, Ms. Parks, who is serving on the LAFCO board, said the item had been continued until the May 24 meeting of LAFCO.

Cholla Gardens
Cholla Gardens is outlined.


Councilmember Joe McKee mentioned an article he had read about Teachers Of The Year (including our own Dr. Brian McDaniel) meeting with Education Secretary DeVoss. I believe this article in Huffington Post is what he was referring to.

Mayor Matas summarized his recent trip to Washington, DC. The city has not been able to afford a lobbyist for a few years. His trip was a trial run with a firm that wants to be retained as our lobbyist. He had 20 meetings in four days with legislators, DOT, DOJ, and Homeland Security. Thirteen of the meetings focused on cannabis.


Amendment to Development Agreement No. 14-16; Green Bond

This development agreement is for a cannabis cultivation site on the south side of unpaved Thomas Avenue east of Little Morongo. The current developer is Green Bond. They want to revise the development agreement to permit manufacturing and distribution in addition to cultivation. The manufacturing area will consist of about 1200 s.f., reducing the cultivation area by that amount, and thereby reducing their tax payment to the city a little.

Mr. McKee pointed out that although these changes could have been made administratively, Green Bond wanted to go the public hearing route, even though its expensive.

There was no public testimony. Ms. Zavala moved for approval, Mr. McKee seconded. Approved 5-0.


Furbee Aquatic Center Professional Services/License Agreement for Swim Programs

USA Management submitted a proposal to manage the Furbee Center this summer for $68,180. The hours of pool operation will be expanded. "During the week, there will be swimming lessons and aquatic programs from 6:30 AM to 11:00 AM. The pool will then be opened for community, open recreational swimming from 12:00 PM to 7:00 PM. On Saturdays and holidays, the pool will be open to community, open recreational swimming from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM."

Morris Barkley was at the meeting representing USA Management. They will hire locally.

Mr. McKee suggested that the city should begin planning for the summer swim program when the new fiscal year starts in July, rather than the city's habit of waiting until the first of the calendar year. The contract was opened for bidding just in April 2018, limiting the number of firms that could make a bid. He also said that in the past people coming to swim were charged $2.50 to $3.00 a head, which becomes prohibitive for a family with several children. He suggested rates like 25¢ per child or $1 per family.

Mayor Pro Tem Zavala moved to approve, setting the fees at 25¢ per child, 50¢ per adult, or $1 per family and a provision for afternoon swim lessons. Seconded by Mr. McKee. Approved 5-0.


Resolution of Intention to Place Desert Valley Disposal Annual Billing On the Tax Roll

Residential billing for trash removal has been done via the annual property tax bill rather than billing the resident directly for several years now. This item is routinely done annually. This resolution sets the date for the public hearing for June 5, 2018, which is necessary to actually approve all the individual bills and to authorize them to be added to the tax roll.

The price has gone up to $305.84/residence.

Mr. McKee moved for approval, Ms. Zavala seconded, approved 5-0.


Public Art for Vets Leaf

Vets Leaf Public Art Proposal (1)

Vets Leaf Public Art Proposal (2)

This is a rendering of the public art project that Vets Leaf proposes to erect on their property. This would be placed on the northeast corner of the project at San Jacinto Lane and Cabot Road. In the agenda packet this project is described thusly: "The plans show a 6-foot-high black wrought-iron fence (existing) on which the plaques (approximately 3 feet by 5 feet) will be mounted. Five proposed flag poles (four 30 ft. tall, one 35 ft. tall) will be installed behind the fence and will fly flags of the Marine Corps, the United States, the State of California, POW/MIA, and the Vets Leaf insignia. LED accent lighting will up-light the monument."

If the cultivator were to pay the in-lieu fee to the Art In Public Places fund instead of doing their own project, that fee would be $20,751.65.

Mike Picardi, Chair of the Community & Cultural Affairs Commission (CCAC) which approved this project 4-1, commented. He was the No vote at the CCAC. Part of the legal definition of public art in DHS is that it was created or designed by a professional artist (or plural). This project does not identify an artist. Mr. Picardi feels the project as whole does not meet the defintion of art. He also said that he believes it's not public art because it's on private property. The installation will be behind a fence. Flags, he said, are not art.

The city code allows Public Art to be placed on private property, however, the code also requires the developer to provide evidence "to demonstrate that the public art will be displayed in an area open and freely available to the general public or otherwise provide public accessibility in an equivalent manner based on the characteristics of the public art or its placement on the site."

Mr. Picardi suggested that the city work with the developer so that this display would be installed in Veterans Park. He said the developer is calling this piece a monument which, he said, means it is not art. [This interpretation would mean that the Statue of Liberty, a monument if there ever was one, is not also art.] He went on to say that since it would be on private property, any future owner of the property would be free to tear it down. [This possibility is addressed in the city code, which requires the developer to replace it or contribute equivalent funds.]

Greta Carter spoke next. She has worked with Vets Leaf and Tony Rivera. She had Googled for a definition of art. [The city ordinance defines art for the purposes of Art in Public Places: “Art” or “public art” or “public art project” means an original creation of art that is designed by a professional visual artist or artists. Art includes, but is not limited to, sculpture, mural or portable painting, earthwork, fiber-work, mosaic, photograph, print, calligraphy, any combination of forms of media, furnishings or fixtures.] The defintion she cited said "The expression or application of human creative skills and imagination producing work appreciated primarily for the beauty or the emotional power."

She said that Tony Rivera has put emotional power into this display. Mr. Rivera has passed away. She pointed out that our light industrial zone has received national coverage, so people everywhere are seeing what it looks like.

Ryan Fingerhut represents Vets Leaf. He said that the late Mr. Rivera, rather than simply paying the in-lieu fee, decided to develop this project that would speak to the community about what he was. He pointed out the definition of public art in the ordinance [addressed above]. He also said that he thinks flags are art, since they were designed by someone to express something.

Simone Sandoval, who said she represents Vets Leaf, spoke next. She said the piece is deeply personal. Three of the plaques will memorialize Tony Rivera and two other comrades-in-arms who have passed away. They were all Marines, which is why the Marine Corps gets singled out to have its flag displayed.

James Velasquez, supervisor at Vets Leaf, was next up to the podium. He said this project is his and Mr. Rivera's dream. He said they would move the fence, if that was the problem.

Mr. McKee said "I think it's a memorial. I don't think it's a work of art."

By Mr. McKee's reasoning, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in DC is not art.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Mr. McKee went on to say "I used to build food processing equipment as an engineer. That's art, then, I guess, if you used the definition you used."

[Wow, this is a great example of a tone deaf politician intentionally misunderstanding basic issues. Was his food processing equipment "appreciated primarily for the beauty or the emotional power?" Or was it appreciated for its efficient functionality? One of those defines art.]

He wants it to be moved to the Veterans Park.

[Why, if it is not art, would it become art if it were to be placed in Veterans Park? Is the level of art here really the core issue, or does the city just want something more in one of its parks?]

Flags, Mr. McKee said, were created as signaling devices in the military. "They weren't created as art at all."

[And therefore, they can never be art, is his logic. Sculptures were created to represent the religious entities. Does that mean every statue in existence now is a religious figure? Tell that to the Russians.]

This is not art, according to Mr. McKee.

Then Mr. McKee repeated what he said before, that public art should not be located in the industrial zone. Developers in industrial zones should be limited to paying the in-lieu fee. [Because no one ever travels through our industrial zone or no one there desires to look at anything but warehouses and fences?]

Mr. Betts said he supports the CCAC and until they "really mess up" they should have the latitude to decide what goes. He did, however, say he thought the proposed fence would not be adequate for the plaques that will be mounted on it. Also, the two renderings in the agenda packet do not look alike. City staff said the flag poles would be behind the fence and the plaques will be mounted to the existing wrought iron fence. Also, there isn't enough space for the landscaping as shown in one rendering. He complained about the abundant litter on Cabot Road and asked for it to be cleaned up.

Sandra Silva-Tello, one of Vets Leaf's owners, came to the podium to address Mr. Betts's concerns. She said they would make adjustments, if necessary, to satisfy city requirements.

Ms. Zavala asked what material will be used in the plaques. Ms. Silva-Tello said they would be bronze. Ms. Zavala said she is in much agreement with Mr. Picardi, that it is, basically, not art. She also agreed with Mr. McKee, that Art in Public Places should be paid for by developers in our industrial zone, but they should not derive the benefit of having it placed on or near their property. But, she said, if they would move the fence to behind the flags and mount the plaques on standalone structures, such as cement blocks, that would be acceptable.

Ms. Parks said she has been very impressed by the obvious improvements in our industrial zone, thanks to the cannabis developers. She thinks it's art.

Mayor Matas said he is very confused by art. He once questioned whether figures made from rusty metal are art, creating a brouhaha.
Dragon by Ricardo Breceda
Art made from rusty metal by Ricardo Breceda, available for viewing in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Mr. Matas said he doesn't decide what art is and that he agrees with Mr. Picardi "half-way." He said he liked this proposal better than some of the other art that has been approved. He thinks the ordinance should be revised to make it clear that landscaping is not part of the art. He said there has been a problem with bronze being stolen, so he suggested Vets Leaf look into a less expensive material.

Mr. Betts moved to approve with the condition that the fence be upgraded to be more fitting for the plaques and that the fence be moved to allow greater access by the public. He added that he agreed with Ms. Parks that art should be placed in the industrial zone.

Approved 4-1 with Mr. McKee voting against.


Filling Vacancy Created by the Resignation of Yvonne Parks

City Clerk Jerryl Soriano laid out the law. The city council could call a special election which would have to be held on the date of a regular election at least 114 days after the call for the election. That would mean the November 6 election day, and since the term expires in December, that would be a wasted effort. Or, the council can appoint someone to fill the spot within 60 days of the date of the resignation. The office cannot be left vacant.

[Mr. Soriano didn't mention this, but when vacancies occurred at the water district, it was said that if the body did not appoint a replacement, then the County Supervisors could step in and make the appointment.] Mr. Soriano suggested that applications for the spot be accepted for the period from May 3 to May 28.

Mr. Picardi encouraged the city council get moving on this as rapidly as possible.

Mr. Betts said the 60-day clock doesn't start until Ms. Parks actually vacates the position. [He's correct about that, IMO, but that doesn't mean the council can't interview candidates prior to that vacancy.]

Mr. McKee pointed out that if they appointed someone with no council experience, it would take them 2 or 3 months to get up to speed. He suggested making the selection from the pool of past city council members who are still in the city.

Ms. Zavala agreed with Mr. McKee, saying that in addition to the experience, they would be appointing someone who had been chosen by the voters at least once.

Mr. Betts said the council should not choose someone who plans to run for city council in the November election. He cited the previous time when Dot Reed was appointed to the council.

Mr. Matas said that in addition to former council members, the pool of candidates should be open to commissioners and former commissioners as well as the general public.

Mr. Betts moved open the application process, provided that candidates do not intend to seek election in November. The motion did not get a second.

Mr. Matas moved to open an application process so the city council could make an appointment at the first meeting in June (June 5). The city attorney is not sure if the interviews could be conducted privately, or must they be private. [Private interviews are permitted for commissioners, so I think this would work the same.] This motion also got no second.

Ms. Zavala made a motion to appoint someone with city council experience. Her motion was seconded by Mr. McKee. This motion was approved with a vote of 4-1 with Mr. Betts opposing. Later, Ms. Parks realized she should have abstained from this vote, so it was revised to 3-1-1.

The motion did not specify the candidates had to have been Desert Hot Springs city council members. It's quite likely we've got one or two retired council members from other cities living here.


Cancel Hearing and Abandon the Proceedings to Annex Rancho Del Oro to the Landscape and Lighting Maintenance District No. 2

This is part of a long story going back to the creation of Rancho del Oro, which was the city's first housing development, in the early 1990s. At that time, details were overlooked, including the need to create a fee levied on the residents to maintain the landscaping on the perimeter of the development. The city has been maintaining that landscaping since then at general taxpayer's expense. Various plans have been put forth, but none seem to garner majority support among the property owners in Rancho del Oro. At some point, if the residents do nothing, the city will have to stop maintaining that landscaping.

Some months ago the city did receive a petition signed by 93 property owners in Rancho del Oro, so action was undertaken to initiate the necessary public hearing process. But now word comes to the city that they should hold their horses. So the city is going to cancel the public hearing process for now, to let the property owners discuss and strategize further. The city plans to continue to subsidize the development with free maintenance. Approved 4-0, Mr. Betts having recused himself because he owns property there.


Amend the Budget To Reflect SB-1

SB-1 will increase funds available to the city for road maintenace. The city is required to submit to the state a list of projects to be funded through SB-1. DHS will receive $483,419. The city is proposing four different projects for that.

  • $320,000 for the Palm Drive traffic signal and street light project,
  • $100,000 for sidewalks on Desert View,
  • $30,000 to re-stripe Mission Lakes Boulevard and Two Bunch Palms Trail,
  • $33,419 for city-wide asphalt grind and overlay/slurry/road reconstruction.

Approved 5-0.


General Plan Update

Yes, this is the same General Plan Update that the city has been working on since I moved here. City Manager Maynard said public meetings will begin on May 30 (5 PM - 7 PM) at the Carl May.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs | May 13, 2018 at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2018

No Spectators - The Art of Burning Man

No Spectators - Renwick Gallery (1892)

No Spectators - Renwick Gallery (3040)

No Spectators - Renwick Gallery (4544)

Penny Bear (4604)

Greg & Shep view the Penny Bear (4613)
That's Greg & Shep looking at the penny bear.

Maya Angelou bust (4589)
Maya Angelou
.

No Spectators - Renwick Gallery (1889)

The Temple at No Spectators (4586)

XO (4629)
People played around on this in pretty much the same way Burners did
.

"Truth Is Beauty" replica (7686)
"Truth is Beauty" one-third scale replica.

"Truth Is Beauty" replica shadows (4536)

No Spectators - Renwick Gallery (4580)
These people are looking up at a small version of the artwork seen at the beginning of the following video:

This complete set of photos can be seen here.

Filed under Burning Man,Photography | May 12, 2018 at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2018

Nixon Library

Photos from my visit to the Nixon Library a couple of weeks ago.

Nixon Museum Entryway
This video shows the corridor through which you enter the museum
with iconic images of the troubled '60s on both walls, leading to what I suppose is intended as the solution to all of the problems: Nixon. I added the music which is "Scene II: Interlude" from Orpheus by Stravinsky.

1972 Electoral Vote Map (9047)
The 1972 electoral votes
. I'd forgotten that in addition to Massachusetts, McGovern also carried the District of Columbia.

Apollo 11 Memorabilia (0028)
A moon rock and the phone Nixon used to talk to the astronauts
. I tried, but couldn't get, a clear shot of buttons attached the phone. They're for different extensions in the White House and were labeled "Haldemanm," "Ehrlichman" and so on.

Little Red Book (2609)
Can you believe it?
Right there in the Nixon Library a copy of Mao's Little Red Book.

Marine One (1826)

Nixon Birthplace & Childhood Home (0037)
Nixon birthplace and childhood home
. It is still in the exact location and with the same orientation as when Nixon's father built it.

Nixon Library (0040)
View of the library from the Nixon home.

Nixon Library Entrance Lobby (1829)

Sock It To Em button (0033)
Nixon wore this button on his Whittier College letter jacket.
I was very surprised that he was so far ahead of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. If you are old enough, you surely remember these six seconds from that show:

The 18½ Minute Gap (0031)
They had a substantial exhibit about Watergate that did not try to whitewash the scandal
. I have already listened to the 18½ minute gap, so I skipped this part of the exhibit. They had a display showing the locations of microphones used by FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ and Nixon. Nixon had WAAAAAY more than any other President and was the only President who put a recording device in the President's office at Camp David.

Casualties Report From January 1969 (0025)
Casualty report from Vietnam for January 20, 1969.
Do you recall these casualty reports being delivered to the public weekly on national news? Every time there was some number of Americans killed, then the number of ARVN (south Vietnam) soldiers killed would be something much larger than the American number, and finally the number of Viet Cong and NVA (North Vietnam) would be a astronomically higher than either of the other two. For example, for the current week shown in this photo there were 185 Americans killed, 336 ARVN and 2,742 VC and NVA. I think if you add up all the reported numbers killed for the VC and NVA throughout the entire war it would indicate every resident of North Vietnam had died at least twice.

Bob Dole Quote (1286)
Everybody's entitled to their opinion.

A Turning Point In History (0032)
How might history be different if someone had bought him some train tickets?

The complete set of photos can be seen here.

Filed under California,History | April 13, 2018 at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

April 9, 2018

Low Clearance On New York Parkways Results In Bus Crash

Here's the news story about a bus striking a low clearance bridge on the Southern State Parkway on Long Island. "Major David Candelaria of the New York State Police...estimated the height of the clearance to be less than 10 feet." The article says it was an 8-foot clearance, but the signs say 7' 7". I'm really surprised the state police are so far off estimating the bridge height. The parkways in NY state were intended for passenger vehicles only, so designers intentionally made the bridge clearances low in order to discourage any future legislature from opening up the parkways to trucks and buses. Here's an interesting article that discusses the motivations of Robert Moses, who designed this particular parkway, to make these bridge clearances even lower than they are on other New York parkways. The primary accusation made against Moses was that he was rabidly racist (apparently a proven fact) and he didn't want low-income people (who he assumed would be mostly black or Puerto Rican) to come by the busload to the parks and beaches that are connected by the parkways. The author identifies one beach that was obviously designed for bus access, so he thinks the racism story may not be true.

The comments are very interesting. The ones from locals are like "Driver's fault, everyone knows about NY parkways," "Driver's fault, everyone in the northeast knows about NY parkways," or "Driver's fault, there were warning signs." I've been on NY parkways just a few times (when I lived in the northeast), and while I greatly appreciated their aesthetics, I wasn't consciously aware of the bridge heights, so I think there's just a lot of New Yorkers who think everyone knows all about New York.

The article says the bus passengers were returning home from Europe. I assume, therefore, that they were coming from one of the NYC area airports and heading east (the accident site is east of any airports). In fact, it seems most likely they were coming from JFK airport because from JFK you can get on the Belt Parkway from either I-678 or the JFK Expressway. The Belt Parkway then takes you to the Southern State Parkway.

I used Google Streetview to search for warning signs and the photo below shows the first (and only) warning sign that the parkway is for passenger cars only. This is coming from I-678. I could find no similar sign for those coming from the JFK Expressway.
First Warning Sign Entering Belt Parkway From I-678 Leaving JFK Airport
First (and apparently only) warning signs entering Belt Parkway from I-678 leaving JFK Airport
.

I used the New York State database of bridge heights that the Post author referenced. You've got to zoom in a lot before it becomes useful. I would expect a state department of transportation database of bridge heights to have both the highest and lowest clearance heights from both directions, a total of four heights. But the NYDOT only lists one height (the lowest) for each bridge. They only distinguish the different heights for either direction if the bridge has two arches. One arch bridges get only one height. IOW, inadequate.

Searching for info on the typical height of intercity buses, I found that the limit is 12 feet, but I didn't find any particular bus models taller than 133 inches (11' 1'). The extra 11 inches is probably a safety margin to allow for heavy snow on the road surface or changes in the height of the road due to repaving. I found a couple of trucker forums where drivers claimed that posted clearances in New York State are 12 inches lower than the real clearance. If those claims are true, then an 11' 1" bus ought to fit under any New York bridge with a labeled clearance of 10' 2", giving a tight one-inch safety margin.

Using that state database and following the route of the bus, the first bridge that appears too low for them is where the Belt Parkway passes under 130th Avenue. The photo below shows that underpass.
NB Belt Parkway Under 130th Avenue
NB Belt Parkway under 130th Avenue.
The 9' 8" warning sign is the lowest clearance in the right or left lane. If the bus had been in the center lane at this point, the clearance there might have been a nominal 10' 2" or more (11' 2" in reality, if we trust the alleged 12-inch safety margin) and the bus would have cleared it with an inch to spare.

As the bus transitioned from the Belt Parkway to the Southern State Parkway, it would go under the nominally 8' 6" bridge shown below.
First warning sign on EB Southern State Parkway coming from Belt Parkway
First warning sign on EB Southern State Parkway coming from Belt Parkway
. If 8' 6" means 9' 6", the clearance over the leftmost lane would need to be at least 17 inches higher than that over the right lane. It's possible.

BTW, the only height clearance warning signs I could find on the parkways were the single signs mounted on each bridge, small and usually white, although some were yellow as shown in the photo above. On entrance ramps I could usually find one standard "No Trucks" sign and two diamond signs showing the clearance of the first bridge to be encountered. The sign on I-678 is the biggest, flashiest warning I could find and even that one says nothing about low clearances. There were no "No Trucks" signs on the parkways, other than a single one at each entrance ramp. There were no "Trucks/Buses Must Exit" signs at any exit.

The next underpass has a nominal clearance of 8' 11", but that sign (white) is obscured by vegetation, as you can see below.
EB Southern State Parkway under Elmont Road
EB Southern State Parkway under Elmont Road.
An additional 15 inches of clearance would be needed for an 11' 1" bus (again, assuming the NYDOT actually deducts a 12-inch safety margin from their signs). There might be 15 inches difference between the righthand edge of the road and lanes number 2 or 3 (counting from left to right).

Then we come to Fletcher Avenue where the nominal clearance is 7' 8" which is only one inch higher than the underpass at Eagle Road where the bus accident happened.
EB Southern State Parkway at Fletcher Avenue
EB Southern State Parkway at Fletcher Avenue.
Google Streetview sometimes pixelates the height signs because they appear to be similar to license plates, which Streetview routinely pixelates, but the NYDOT database says this one is 7' 8", and that does not appear to be inconsistent with the pixelated sign. There would need to be a whopping 28 inches of additional clearance in lanes 1 or 2 (left to right) for the bus to pass under it, but pass under it the bus did.

Continuing east, the next bridge at Corona Avenue is nominally 9' 3". The next very low clearance bridge is at Franklin Avenue where the nominal clearance is 8' 7". After that the bus passed through four underpasses that seemed to have a nominal height sufficient for the bus to clear. And then they came to Eagle Avenue which is nominally only 7' 7", shown below.
Eagle Avenue Bridge Across Southern State Parkway Looking East
Eagle Avenue bridge across Southern State Parkway, eastbound.
.

aerial view of Southern State Parkway and Eagle Avenue
Click to go to the Google aerial view
of the interchange of Eagle Avenue and Southern State Parkway.

The photos of the wrecked bus in the Post article show much greater damage on its right side than on its left, so I think it was in the right lane and hit it at 7' 7" (or 8' 7" in reality) which would be about 23 inches lower than the top of the bus.
Bus Crash

Bus Crash

Bus Crash

The bus driver is a professional, so he should have noted the one warning sign he went under when going from I-678 to the Belt Parkway (if indeed that was his route). And he should have known that buses were prohibited from parkways. The bus company is based in New Jersey, so I think it's save to assume they do a lot of driving in New York State. In addition, the driver should have noticed his hairbreadth clearance under some of the bridges before he got to Eagle Avenue. If he'd been paying attention, that alone should have caused him to question the wisdom of his route.

The signage, however, erected by the NYDOT is all consistent with the assumption that every driver knows you can't take a bus (or truck) onto a parkway, and every driver knows there are very low clearance bridges. But that's a bit like the reasoning "but I had the right of way" as you lie dying on the pavement somewhere. Three vehicles a year strike this bridge! How many hit the other very low clearance bridges on this parkway? Construction of the Southern State Parkway began in 1926. It's been 92 years and no one has ever felt the need to upgrade the signage?! "In December [2017], Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a $4.3 million project to install an electronic warning system that detects when oversize vehicles enter parkways." Here's what the NYDOT claims in that article: "An over-height vehicle entering would break the beam, triggering a warning message on a full color LED variable message sign display. The warning would indicate that the vehicle is over height and alerts the driver of impending bridge strikes ahead," but if you look at the photos you'll see the sign falls far short of what they claim.

Overheight Warning System
Full color LED? I don't think so. This is old technology, certainly not any color but amber. I don't think these lights are LED or I wouldn't see so many burned out elements both out on the road and in this photo. If they are truly LED, they could do a lot more with them than simply display crude dots. As for "The warning would indicate that the vehicle is over height and alerts the driver of impending bridge strikes ahead," uh, I don't think so. If the sign in the photo actually does that, it's going to have to scroll three or four message displays to do so, and the offending vehicle will have passed by the sign already. In addition, the sign is placed too late. Is the driver of the truck or bus supposed to back up or do a u-turn across the grass or just stop and call the highway patrol to assist? In the photo it appears that the detector is actually placed AFTER the warning sign, so its only real function would be to alert following drivers to get their cellphones ready to record the expected crash.

The NYDOT seems to work on the assumption there are no stupid or ignorant drivers on their roads. Most other states have learned the folly of that assumption when dealing with potentially life-endangering road hazards. In California there are generous warning signs where stupid or ignorant drivers might do the wrong thing. The bus driver is technically at fault in this case, but the NYDOT is doing less than the minimum to try to mitigate the risks of these low clearance parkway overpasses. The very least they could do is use the standard big yellow signs that are mounted on bridges directly over the roadway...and clear the damned vegetation!

There are at least a couple of low clearance bridges elsewhere in the United States that are routinely struck by high clearance vehicles. Go here to read and view videos about the infamous 11' 8" bridge in Durham, North Carolina. Note the extremely generous warning signs for the stupid or ignorant. Even so, plenty of drama still happens.

Filed under Architecture,Automotive | April 9, 2018 at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

April 5, 2018

Arriving At Burning Man, last year

Self Upon Arrival in Black Rock City, 2017.
My shirt is clean; my tent behind me is not yet covered by my shade structure, so it's midday of my first day on the playa last year, 2017. Photo by George Post who is always there when I arrive and always still there when I leave and I'm beginning to suspect he might live out there all the time.

The umbrella hat, to my surprise, proved very practical. Kept my head well shaded, well ventilated, and the headband did not irritate me. That was what I expected to be my main objection, but, no, it's fairly comfortable. Not practical in wind, however.

If somebody wants to give me a word balloon, send it complete (not just an idea or suggestion) to me at RonsLog@RBGilbert.com

Filed under Burning Man,Photography | April 5, 2018 at 09:18 PM | Comments (0)

Gigapan Aerial Image of Black Rock City 2017

The Gigapan image is here. Below is the view of our Burner Buddies camp.

BurnerBuddies

Filed under Burning Man,Photography | April 5, 2018 at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2018

Slide Photos Of The Past (well, we couldn't have future, could we?)

Autumn River (2)
Somewhere in New England (Maine, most likely).

Walden Pond
Walden Pond.

View of Downtown Boston from Alewife Station, Cambridge, Mass (BW)
A view of the skyline of downtown Boston from Alewife Station on the Red Line.
I think the very white steeple you can see towards the left part of the downtown skyline is a church that used to stand in Porter Square. You can see the Federal Reserve building on the righthand part of the skyline.

Stacey - August 1986
My brother's stepdaughter at the wedding between her mother and him in 1986, Fremont, California.

Polaris - Kodachrome - 1986
Polaris and the star trails around it.
I probably shot this while out camping, which means it's probably Maine.

Sculpture - Kodachrome - 1987
I can't remember where this is, but I'm tempted to say Chicago.
Kodachrome, 1987.

Prometheus, Boston Prudential Center - 1986 (2)
Prometheus in front of the Prudential Center in Boston, 1986.

Leaves
More New England nature.

John Hancock Building - Kodachrome - 1986
The old John Hancock, Back Bay, Boston.
Kodachrome, 1986.

Christian Science Mother Church Reflecting Pool, Boston - Agfachrome - 1985 (1)
The reflecting pool at the Christian Science Center in The Fenway, Boston.
Agfachrome, 1985.

Chicago City Hall - Kodachrome - 1987
Chicago City Hall, Kodachrome, 1987.

Christian Science Center, Boston - Kodachrome - 1986
The Christian Science Center in Boston.
Kodachrome, 1986.

Boston Pride Parade - 1985
Boston Pride Parade, 1985.

More scanned slide photos can be seen here.

Filed under Architecture,Art,Cities/Urbanism,Gay Issues,Photography | March 22, 2018 at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2018

A Few Slides

Winter - Kodachrome
Kodachrome.

Statue of Liberty - Kodachrome - 1987 (5)
Kodachrome 1987.

Statue of Liberty - Kodachrome - 1987 (4)
Kodachrome 1987.

Putnam Headstone - Kodachrome
Kodachrome.

Pond

Boston Light - Kodachrome - 1987
Boston Light, Kodachrome, 1987.

Filed under Photography | March 11, 2018 at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2018

Sliiiiiiiiides

Harvard Along The Charles River - Kodachrome - 2002
Harvard along the Charles River as viewed from the John W. Weeks pedestrian bridge.
I'm facing the Cambridge side, of course. At the extreme left you can see the North Harvard Street bridge. On the right you can see as far as the Western Avenue bridge and the power plant next to it.

UC Berkeley - 1986
UC Berkeley, 1986.

Tourists in Hawaii - Kodachrome - 1986
Yes, this couple looks like a Duane Hanson sculpture, but they are, in fact, living tourists in Hawaii.
Kodachrome, 1986.

Paris Street; Rainy Day - Gustave Caillebotte - Chicago Art Institute
Paris Street; Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte
at the Chicago Art Institute.

Marina City, Chicago - Kodachrome - 1987 (BW)
Marina City, Chicago - Kodachrome, 1987.

LDS Temple, Oakland - 1986 (2)
The LDS Temple in Oakland - 1986.

Golden Gate Bridge Tower - 1985 (1)
Golden Gate Bridge, 1985.

Coast Guard Pier, Provincetown - 1985
Coast Guard pier in Provincetown, Massachusetts - 1985.

[Former] Polaroid Headquarters
Polaroid headquarters on the Charles River in Boston (Allston).

Filed under Architecture,Photography | February 23, 2018 at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2018

Desert Hot Springs Planning Commission - 2/13/2018

Commissioners Sworn In

All five commissioners were sworn in for this term. Four of them were familiar incumbents, and the new one (taking Cathy Romero's seat) was Gary Gardner who was appointed by Yvonne Parks. The members of the Planning Commission for this year are: Dirk Voss (Chair), Jan Pye, Scot De La Torre, Gary Gardner and Larry Buchanan.


Cultivation: Cabot Road

First item was a CUP for a cultivation development (33,200 s.f.) on the east side of Cabot Road (map). It will be a 2-story building. The Planning Commission had already approved an identical proposal for the parcel next door, so this one was even more of a slam dunk than the usual cultivation CPU. Approved 5-0. Construction will start in June, the developer said.


Cultivation: Desert Land Ventures

This is the third Really Big Cultivation proposal in DHS that I'm aware of. Really Big as in 123.4 acres, 13 parcels, 1.9 million s.f. of development, some streets, all infrastructure (estimated $30 million - just infrastructure), and it's all going into that blank space along I-10, west of Palm, east of Indian. The proposal is for more than marijuana. The developer plans a 150-room hotel, along with the usual sorts of commercial projects you see around a hotel along the interstate. The approximate location is shown in the aerial view below:
Desert Land Ventures aerial view

As a Really Big Project, it includes a specific plan, a vesting tentative tract map, and a development agreement.

They want to put a dispensary there too. The city has a list of 16 parties who have been approved to get (or try to get) a CUP for a dispensary. I believe we have 8 dispensaries open. One dispensary has been permitted behind the AM/PM station at Palm and I-10. There is some site preparation there, and I believe at least some of the roads have been paved. That leaves 7 parties who have not started any development and may not yet have gotten a CUP. The Desert Land Ventures developer (he's owned the site since 2006) did not want to have to get in bed with some dispensary owner that he doesn't know. No one suggested the alternative. He could buy out the CUP rights from one of those parties.

The specific plan is flexible so that the developer can determine which parts will be industrial and which commercial. City staff and the commissioners expressed the desire that there be no cultivation on the parcels that are adjacent to I-10. The developer who, BTW, is also developing the new San Diego airport that will be over by Otay Mesa (!!) says he understands and he wants his development to be top notch, so he wouldn't have put cultivation. Those parcels need to have businesses that attract people from the highway. Some of it could be ancillary marijuana businesses, like a bakery, a testing lab, whatever else I can't think of right now.

The Commissioners, recognizing the value of the site, said it would be a window onto Desert Hot Springs, so it needs to look really good. The developer agreed, saying it's in his interests to do just that.

The developer said this development will extend over years and nobody knows what's going to happen to cannabis in the future, and that's one reason for the flexibility in the specific plan.

The part of the site that is north of Varner Road extends into the MSHCP area, but it was said that development of 10% of the area within the MSHCP is permitted! I had never heard that before, and I'm sure there are more strings to it than simply wanting to build in the MSHCP. The developer said they might put solar or wind power there.

Varner Road, which goes through the project, is supposed to be paved to a width of six (6!) lanes. Both the developer and the commission agreed this was excessive to start with, since it just deadends and it will be years before six lanes are needed, so they're going to start with something less (to be negotiated with staff, unless the city council says different). Comparisons were drawn with the "Bridge To Nowhere" (the Alaska one, not the Los Angeles one). Some day (after your prince comes) 20th Avenue will also be paved coming east from Indian. It would make sense, IMO, to connect that with Varner.

Approved 5-0.


Cultivation: Collective Solutions

This is a CUP for a cultivation site of 22,176 s.f. total, in three buildings on 1.26 acres. It will be on currently unpaved 15th Avenue, between Little Morongo and Cabot Road. This will include two 10,000 s.f. greenhouses. There will be a temporary trailer, but that has to be out of there before August 13.

Approved 5-0.


Dispensaries: Special Dispensary Entitlements

Currently, our city ordinances define a dispensary (which must be located in a commercial zone) and cultivation (which must be located in an industrial zone). But what about baking? Tasting rooms? And very small scale dispensing, such as at a hotel? This ordinance attempts to address some of those issues.

It would define light manufacturing as any kind of production of cannabis products using only "chemical synthesis," by which they mean baking or infusing, but absolutely not any extraction.

A Special Dispensary Conditional Use Permit would be created for light manufacturing, hotels that want to dispense cannabis, and cultivators who want to have a tasting room in their facility.

A cultivator's tasting room would be limited to offering samples of products produced on that site only. There can be no on-site sales and consumption; i.e., the tasting is free. Any sales must be "off-site," that is you carry it away with you...like a liquor store, where you can buy alcohol but can't consume it on premises. For existing cultivation facilities, the Director of Community Development would be able to approve the Special Dispensary Conditional Use Permit in most cases.

Hotels could get a Special Dispensary Conditional Use Permit if they want to dispense marijuana. Note that any hotel that serves alcohol cannot also dispense marijuana under California state law. Any sales at a hotel must be for on-site consumption only. No off-site sales. Just like a bar that serves alcohol. You can buy it and drink it, but you can't walk out the door with the glass in your hand (except in New Orleans). No cultivation or manufacturing would be permitted at a hotel.

A Special Dispensary Conditional Use Permit would also allow light manufacturing in a commercial zone. The simple reason for this is that light manufacturing is not nearly as profitable as cultivation and light manufacturers cannot now afford the price of land in our industrial zones. Light manufacturing facilities that already have a CUP (there are some at the cultivation sites) can get a Special Dispensary Conditional Use Permit with approval just by the Director of Community Development in most cases.

Gretta Carter, who represents some cultivators and other cannabis businesses, made a public comment. She said this ordinance is "about 90% there." She suggested that the commercial zone also accept lab testing facilities.

Ryan Fingerhut asked that the ordinance be delayed so that small improvements can be made in it.

Andrew Milks of Brown Dog dispensary said there are safe extraction methods that don't use flammable solvents. He would like "light extraction" to be permitted in commercial zones. He thinks dispensaries should have the right to some light manufacturing.

The Commissioners discussed the issue of intoxicated driving that might result from tasting rooms.

Approved 5-0 with some clarifications of the language in the ordinance.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Marijuana | February 16, 2018 at 09:48 PM | Comments (8)

February 14, 2018

Match Sphere

Scientists at Los Alamos Laboratory had a betting pool for Trinity, the first atomic bomb test. One of the betting options was that the bomb would work, but would ignite the atmosphere, wiping out all life on Earth. This video allows you visualize what that might look like from the moon.

Filed under Photography,Science | February 14, 2018 at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2018

My First Hummingbird Nest

Hummingbird nest Feb 13 2018 (7958)

Hummingbird nest Feb 13 2018 (7957)

Just spotted it today when I noticed the future mother flying in exactly the same path twice very close to my house. I'll have to get a ladder to see down into the nest.

UPDATE: I can't get high enough on my ladder to see clear to the bottom of the nest, but for now here's a photo of the mother sitting.
Hummingbird In Nest (7960)\

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Photography | February 13, 2018 at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2018

Scanned Slide Photos Again

Twilight on the Charles River - Kodachrome - 1987
The Charles River after sunset, looking westerly.
Kodachrome, 1987.

Sal S. & David K. In Massachusetts (2)
Sal Sorrenti and David K.
This photo is from about 1986 or '87 and is somewhere around Boston, maybe Westboro. Sal, on the left, was my boyfriend at that time.

Sailboat on Hawaiian Beach - Kodachrome - 1986
Hawaii, Kodachrome, 1986.

Portrait
If you can identify this portrait, please let me know.
I don't recall the artist or where this was on display. It might be in the Chicago Art Institute.

Na Pali Coast, Kauai - Kodachrome - 1986
The Na Pali coast on Kauai.
Kodachrome, 1986.

MBTA Alewife Station - Kodachrome - 1987
MBTA Alewife Station in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Louis Sullivan Monogram on Carson Pirie Scott & Co, Chicago - Kodachrome - 1987 (1)
Louis Sullivan monogram on Carson Pirie Scott & Co., Chicago.
Kodachrome, 1987.

Leaves, Hawaii - Kodachrome - 1986
In Hawaii, Kodachrome, 1986.

Kauai Morning - 1986 (3)
Dawn on Kauai.

Hammond Pond, Chestnut Hill, Mass - Kodachrome - 1988
This is Hammond Pond behind Chestnut Hill Mall in Newton, Massachusetts.
Kodachrome, 1988.

Gay Pride Parade, Boston - 1985
The 1985 gay pride parade in Boston passing in front of the State House.

Flower - Ektachrome - 1986
Ektachrome, 1986.

Filed under Architecture,Photography | February 11, 2018 at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

Wacking Off

Loving and touching ourselves together with BateWorld's Paul Rosenberg and Sexologist Dr. Jallen Rix. This was on The Brooklyn Conversation, originally. You may (or may not) want to check out BateWorld.

Filed under Gay Issues,Health | February 11, 2018 at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2018

Skypixel Photo Contest

aerial view of polar bear crossing ice floes
You can see all the winners for 2017 here.

| February 10, 2018 at 07:29 PM | Comments (0)

February 9, 2018

Weird Product Of The Day

Filed under Technology | February 9, 2018 at 06:54 PM | Comments (0)