This year – 2022 – was the return from Covid (although at this writing, it is not in remission). After last year’s abbreviated festivities, and the previous year’s complete cancellation, the 4th of July Picnic in Playbowl was back. Thanks to Corinne Poulson and her staff of dedicated volunteers, Independence Day in La Honda was again a blast. In addition to the great music and outstanding food – a barbeque-bolstered potluck – the kids had a great time playing some good old fashioned games (many winners of the Dave Strohm Award). Thanks to the whole community for coming together for fun!
Scenic Drive Reopens with Congresswoman Eshoo
It’s a really big deal when a small town like la Honda gets its main road fixed. It’s an even bigger deal when that fix is a serious, highly engineered, $3 million repair that will withstand any number of future disasters thrown its way. And, wow, it’s a really, really big deal when you consider that this $3 million fix was done at no cost to Cuesta La Honda residents, when an earlier fix on Scenic Drive in 2008 resulted in a $2.1 million tax assessment for the community. That $2.1 million assessment meant that each homeowner in Cuesta had to make a payment of $6,029 ($12,063for those parcels at the epicenter of the slide) in a lump sum or in annualized payments. Many of you reading this are still paying that off today, right?
The cost this time? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Our road has been fixed, the homeowners compensated, and the residents of La Honda did not have to pay $6,000 (or more, with inflation)for that happy development.
How did we get so lucky? After all, there are dozens of disasters every year in this country, many bigger and more newsworthy than ours. We are a tiny town. Our needs could have so easily fallen to the bottom of some very big pile on a bureaucrat’s desk. But they didn’t and there are two big reasons why.
First, five years ago, when the landslide wiped out three homes and Scenic Drive, a group of La Honda residents decided that they could make government listen to them. They formed “The Slide Committee” and were tasked by the Board of the Cuesta La Honda Guild to lobby the government to get Scenic Drive fixed and to get those homeowners compensation for their losses. And just like it says in the First Amendment to the Constitution, they petitioned the government for redress, with lots of meetings, phone calls and emails. Slide Committee members, including Krista Kuenhackl, Maryann Chwalek, Bob Meehan, Carol Prentice, Mike Williams, Sherry Johnson, Nigel Webb, Tim Nelson and Kat Moazed worked with County, State and Federal officials to get them to come see the damage for themselves and to meet with our neighbors who had lost their homes. And we didn’t give up until we saw real results.
Second, we were extremely fortunate in the elected representatives we had to work with. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo has represented La Honda since 1992 and now has the seniority and holds the leadership positions in Washington that directly benefits us, her constituents. She put that to good use in pushing the appropriate levers in government to get FEMA and state and local agencies to fund the full cost of the repairs for Scenic Drive. It is no exaggeration to say that without Anna Eshoo as our member of Congress, this little town would not have gotten $3 million dollars to fix our main road and to compensate our neighbors who lost their homes. There are scores of communities in this country waiting years for their impassable roads, cracked bridges and broken pipelines to get fixed. But now we’re not one of them.
San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley also helped push the necessary funding and approvals through at the County level to help us get Scenic Drive repaired. Owing to term limits, he’s retiring this year, but it’s a reminder that the election this year for the position of District 3 County Supervisor is an important one for our community.
So, on February 23, a crisp sunny day, a few dozen happy La Hondans gathered with Congresswoman Eshoo and Supervisor Horsley to celebrate the reopening of Scenic Drive. Our guests cut the big red ribbon we had strung across Scenic and we drank champagne and ate the traditional opening day sheet cake. It was a glorious gathering, probably one of the largest we’ve had in La Honda since the pandemic started! People are genuinely excited about having their road back. Dave wants to have boxcar derby race down it, Krista’s going to skateboard the length of it and I’ve already seen a flurry of strollers and bicycles on it. For the rest of us, I think we’re just happy to be able to motor our way down Scenic Drive once again without having to meander a circuitous route through Cuesta just to get to the Post Office. I know the folks on Beverly and Cuesta Real are going to be grateful for a lot less traffic and wear and tear on their smaller roads.
For the five years since the slide happened, we’ve heard a few ask why it took so long to get it repaired or why they couldn’t just shovel a few tons of gravel into the massive hole and call it a day. To that the Slide Committee would point to the results of a patient, considered citizens effort that yielded a solid, engineered repair that is actually safe, impervious to collapse and that will last through weather events to come. And, just as important, it was a repair that did not cost the La Honda residents a single penny. And that’s a really, really big deal.
Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) Upgrade
The Guild has been working on a solution to reduce disinfection byproduct (DBP) levels in the treated water since the Division of Drinking Water (DDW) issued a violation citation in April 2021. The creek water we treat contains dissolved organic carbon (DOC), which the existing microfiltration skid can’t remove. Chlorine injected to further disinfect the filtrate reacts with DOC to breed DBPs as the water ages in the storage tank and distribution system. Based on previous testing and analysis, there are two feasible options: 1) Chloramination, which reduces free chlorine residual level by injecting ammonia, or 2) Pass the filtrate thru Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) before chlorination, which reduces DOC concentration. 20-year service life cost estimates showed that chloramination, in addition to being unpopular, is more expensive in the long run due to the need for precise control and increased testing.
The board selected the GAC option.
The Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) project has four main components:
- Specify and order a two-vessel GAC skid The contract was awarded to Tetrasolve Filtration. The forecast shipping date is Aug. This is expected to be the critical path.
- Design and construct a concrete pad for the GAC skid outside the filter treatment plant.
- The pad has been designed based on load bearing and seismic parameters provided by a structural engineer, the site is being prepared, and pad construction will be awarded soon.
- Specify the plumbing between the filter treatment plant and GAC skid. The contract to detail the design and install the plumbing was awarded to Express Plumbing (EPS).
- Install, connect, backwash, and operate the new GAC processing stage. Hopefully complete in Sept.
Concerning regulatory requirements:
- San Mateo Co. requires no planning or building permits (this took seven weeks to determine).
- Progress Reports are being submitted to DDW quarterly.
- An Environmental Intake Form was submitted to DDW in accordance with CEQA requirements.
- A Technical Report describing the project was submitted to DDW as a condition to start construction and was accepted.
- An Operations Plan and 100% as-built drawings need to be submitted to DDW.
- If all goes well, DDW will issue a revision to our Domestic Water Supply Permit to approve and require the GAC stage upgrade.
2022 Easter Egg Hunt
After a two-year hiatus, the annual Easter Egg Hunt was back on this year. It was a huge success! Thanks to Corinne Poulson for organizing the event. With the help of many volunteers who stuffed and hid hundreds of eggs, the Cuesta Guild playground was filled with many small treasures to find. The kids and the adults both had a great time. Candy, prizes, “golden eggs,” and even a piñata brought a lot of smiles to our kiddos. It was great to see families enjoying this awesome event once again! Happy Springtime La Honda!
“If not you, who?”
“I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.” ~Lily Tomlin
Years ago I wrote this post for the La Honda Voice on the topic of volunteering. Mostly, it was because the Cuesta La Honda Guild needs some bright, upstanding citizens to serve on the board of directors. At first, I didn’t do it because I was too busy going to a lot of meetings. Then, I didn’t do it because I didn’t know how to begin. I thought I’d be preaching to the choir, or putting on airs, or churning out other clichés dealing with futility.
“The highest reward for a person’s work is not what they get for it, but what they become because of it.” ~John Ruskin
I know there are many people in La Honda who volunteer a lot. Many venerable Cuesta residents have done their time on the BOD at some point. There are numerous folks who help out at the school, work the food tank, clean up here and there, build trails, and come to the aid of their neighbors every which way. Then there is the volunteer Fire Department! Would the town ever suffer from donor fatigue?
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” ~Albert Schweitzer
Then I did think a bit about folks who don’t seem to be involved, or connected, or frankly doing their fair share. But I also thought, whoa cowboy – homeboy, maybe they’ve got their reasons, and we all have a right to mind our own business. In fact, folks usually appreciate it when we do! I was flummoxed with befuddlement.
“When were the good and the brave ever in a majority?” ~Henry David Thoreau
Stymied by writer’s block, I dug up a few quotes to get me going (and because I knew there’d be others who’d already said it better. One of them went like this: “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” La Honda is the kind of community folks want to live in, but that is because other people have made it that way. It takes work to keep it that way, and/or there is evolution, revolution, and revitalization…
“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” ~Tom Brokaw
I also know there are folks who just need a little encouragement, so I hope I have provided that here. In case you don’t know, there is a Cuesta La Honda Guild directors’ election coming up and candidates are needed. There are many ways people can help at the schools, in the Guild, with the Fire Department, and around town. Think about it. Do something about it!
“Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Actually, it is exciting to be a part of decision making processes. It is enlightening to learn about the myriad issues in a community. And it is inspiring to work with other active, engaged people in trying to make a difference. In fact, it’s an honor to serve the community with your neighbors, and occasionally it’s even fun. So, consider participating, for the first time or again – we need you! At the very least, come to our board meetings and engage…
“Unless someone like you cares a whole, awful lot. Things aren’t going to get better, they’re NOT!” ~Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
SBA Loan Program For Businesses And Homeowners
The details for the Small Business Administration loan program for homeowners and small businesses are available at the link below.. It is important to know that San Mateo County has been approved for participation in the SBA Loan Program and Rep. Eshoo’s office says that many people in the other parts of her District have applied for SBA loans and secured money.
Of course, while it is not a grant, it is a very low interest loan that can prove very helpful to those homeowners who have suffered storm-related damage.
This is a program that is administered by the SBA and the applications are made by the homeowners,/business owners themselves.
The filing deadline to submit applications for property damage is May 19, 2017. The deadline to submit economic injury applications is Dec. 20, 2017.
Landslide news coverage
Here’s is some local news coverage of the landslide.
VIDEO: San Mateo County landslide prompts multiple evacuations | KRON4.com
Landslides in La Honda destroys homes’ foundations (KTVU)
La Honda neighborhood continues to slide | Local News Stories | hmbreview.com
The Guild held a special board meeting on January 24th to discuss the landslide in La Honda.
During the meeting, a Landslide committee was formed, and the committee will be posting community updates via this web site.