Anne Christoph frequently intervenes in city building code enforcement to oppose even small changes in exterior aesthetics. Yet, in an Aug. 28 column (“Big Plans vs. Small Adjustments”) she praised unattractive metal hardware for storefront barriers downtown merchants must install to mitigate flooding.
Insisting unsightly floodgates and sandbags are a “small” solution somehow preserving village charm, Christoph cites a storm drain upgrade proposed in 2002 as an undesirable “large” solution, too “big.” This obviously was a clumsy attempt to inoculate Toni Iseman from criticism for her 2002 vote to give a $10 million federal flood control grant back to the U.S. Army Corps Engineers (USACE).
Toni claims to be a federal affairs expert, but the first rule is never miss a chance to recapture federal dollars. After decades moving up the USACE project list, that $10 million immediately went to another city. Flood control experts shook their heads, neglecting disaster prevention is just not a rational way to preserve a village.
Iseman’s surrogates will remind us a storm drain upgrade wouldn’t protect against worst case scenarios, the business community feared loss of customers during construction, and there is always the ubiquitous soil contamination scare tactic.
Iseman clearly learned nothing on annual taxpayer funded junkets to Washington. She has no clue how the city could have forged an interagency alliance with USACE, EPA and Department of Commerce to manage any federal or state soil remediation and commercial zone impact issues.
Predictions of overdue major flooding made a first stage upgrade the very least the Council needed to do. Yet, only council member Cheryl Kinsman voted to use federal dollars for local needs.
Killing the first phase project precluded grants for drain filtering systems to prevent ocean pollution. A second backup storm drain for major 20 or 50 year floods is now out of the question.
Meanwhile, flood losses for village merchants in 2010 far exceeded commercial impact of the cancelled project. Climate change may bring more floods, but federal and state disaster relief is underfunded, less reliable every year.
Worst of all, floods coursing through streets and alleys since the 2002 project was scuttled have discharged tons of garbage laced with toxic waste into the ocean.
The certainty of future catastrophic water pollution and loss of sea life like we saw after the 2010 flood is Iseman’s true legacy to our village’s shoreline. Christoph reminded voters just in time.
Howard Hills, Laguna Beach
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