No problem with the California budget

Guest blogger Gregg Stevens at CoyoteBlog reminds most of us why we're not trying to make a living in California, and why Douglas really needs to get working on that exit strategy.  The operator of a camping site near Eureka in extreme Northern California, Stevens found one day that a large fir tree had fallen over into the river, leaving a hole six feet deep and ten feet wide.  Thus began a strange and wonderful journey through familiar bureaucratic mazes he fondly imagined he already had mastered, in pursuit of permission to move the fallen tree (now "salmon habitat") and fill the hole.

It turned out that the tree issue was readily resolved, but the hole was a problem on a Kafkaesque scale.  Stevens sent off a $2,500 application fee and prepared the usual richly illustrated and annotated research paper examining the impact of filling the hole, then waited.  And waited.  In the meantime, he shoveled some of the displaced gravel over some exposed utility lines and put up a temporary fence to prevent campers from falling into the hole.
Then one winter day, more than a year after I had filed the application, I received a certified letter from the Coastal Commission.  They had been surreptitiously monitoring the work we had done, or not done, at the site.  And we were looking at a fine of $30,000 and up to $15,000 per day for doing the work.  Or not doing the work.  The letter was a bit vague on that part.  But one thing was clear.  Whatever it was we had or hadn’t done was wrong and thoroughly illegal.  And we were to be punished severely for it.
But all's well that ends well. No one was driven into bankruptcy this time, the salmon continue their happy lives uninterrupted, and all the wonders of modern technology were brought to bear on a cavity-mitigation project that's not quite visible from space.

1 comment:

douglas said...

Oh, I've been busy and hadn't been by in a while... That story is more extreme than any of my experiences, but I've had plenty of minor variations on that working with planning departments, community plans, Army Corp of Engineers, and other bureaucratic webs. Once worked on a job where we jumped through a few hoops to make sure we didn't have to deal with the Coastal Commission. Thank God!