Press "Enter" to skip to content

Letters (September 9, 2021)

* * *


Dear AVA Readers,

This is a response to Joan Burrough’s “Information to Consider: Boonville Sewer/Water” in last week’s AVA.

First, I would like to point out that from the outset of the efforts to develop a plan for the Municipal Water Projects for Boonville, Joan has not attended a single meeting of the Water Projects and Boonville Planners meetings. Not one. Since April 2015 she has not availed herself of opportunities to speak DIRECTLY and in person or by Zoom with our project managers from the State who are financing this planning and the construction of the projects, the District One Waterboard officials who are signing the permits for the projects, the engineers planning the projects, the Mendocino County Health and Planning Departments participating in the projects and the AVCSD Directors responsible for the projects. Not once. I have talked to Joan directly by phone and I have voluminous emails back and forth attempting to educate her and I even offered to drive to Kelseyville if she wasn’t willing to come to Boonville. (Joan owns the Missouri House so is a parcel owner in Boonville). She could have gotten answers in person but has chosen instead to hunker down with her computer. 

Second, I would like to mention what Joan got right…..nothing. Rather than try to refute all the erroneous or misleading statements, I think the most beneficial approach is to explain how individual parcel owners will be affected.

Go up to the Firehouse and look at the boundary maps in the window so that you know if your parcel is in one or both boundaries. The proposed drinking water service boundary runs from Hutsell down 128, takes in the side streets of Haehl and Lambert, turns left on Mt View and includes the high school and the clinic, the housing development by the Airport (Meadow Estates) and then goes down AV Way to the Elementary School. The proposed wastewater system boundary overlaps the Drinking Water program but stops at the Clinic. 

Both programs are fully funded by grants from various sources by the State (we anticipate it costing $19M for drinking water and $16M for Wastewater). The State is paying for installing a meter box and laterals to your house for Drinking Water and installing a grinder pump as well as laterals to your house for Sewer. You might have to hook up the last couple of feet for Drinking Water, but the sewer system will directly hook up. 

There has been no call for public reaction yet for the drinking water project. We did have a Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the waste project when we were considering the Asti field across from the high school, but we did not continue with that site as there was opposition. When we finish planning the components of both projects we will go through the Environmental review, CEQA process, and put out the Notice of Preparation, and, at that time, the parcel owners and “adjacents” will receive notification of that meeting to express concerns and ask questions. That is probably 6 months away. 

Most people don’t realize that having municipal infrastructure means that they can develop their parcel and take advantage of changed housing codes. This could be an opportunity for most parcel owners to add ADUs (Additional Dwelling Units) or even another full residence if they have the room. People that have empty lots will have meter boxes (for drinking water) and a service stub (for wastewater) at the property line for future construction. The Planning department sent a letter which was published in the AVA that states that this is NOT an opportunity for the Planning Dept to seek code enforcement. That letter is on our website. 

Nor will your property tax be affected according to the Mendocino County Assessor. Their basic position is that you already have water and sewer and will be getting it from a different source, but it doesn’t change the value of your parcel. 

What will change is the value of your parcel if you want to sell it. It may be worth more with infrastructure. 

A critical piece of information we are all waiting for is how much the monthly rate will be. Once all the components of the projects are in place, the engineers will develop the potential rate structure (for example commercial rates vs residential, etc). The public will be aware of the proposed rate structures and are welcome (as always) to participate in the discussion. The anticipated financing of the capital improvement projects happily does not include a loan to service and we start out with no indebtedness.

Hooking up to drinking water is optional. You can let the main go by. Even if you hook up you can continue to use your well (with a back flow preventer). This is because you probably want to continue your outside irrigation with non-metered water. If you have a water meter installed at your property line, however, you will be paying the lowest basic monthly rate. What if you did not opt to have a meter box and want one later? Then you will pay the CSD for installation of a new meter box from the main. The laterals on your property will also be at your expense. There is no doubt that a service that is free now will be expensive later. 

There is no choice, though, about a sewer hook up. If you are within the boundary and the sewer project is approved, we will collect your sewage to minimize future contamination of Boonville’s groundwater. Your existing septic tank will be permanently decommissioned (but your leach field will not be touched - we are not plowing that up). It will be available for some other purpose! Put a granny unit on it!

You will not start paying a monthly rate until the projects are constructed. Once you can flush a toilet and turn on taps you will pay a tiered rate for usage of drinking water and a basic rate, or a tiered rate, for wastewater. Obviously the more you conserve the less you will pay for drinking water.

Remember, too, that you will have a fire hydrant within 250’ (they are spaced at 500’) of your house. Using pressurized hydrants (with the 270,000 gallons saved in tanks for this purpose) is a much better way to fight fire than transporting water by water tenders. Ask your insurance agent if this will result in a reduction on your homeowner policy. 

What if you want to remodel, add a second story, or develop a commercial establishment? Our system will provide enough pressure for whatever sprinkler systems you are required to install.

I want to point out that Boonville is one of the very last little communities in District One of the State Water Board (from the Marin county line to the Oregon Border and to the east including the Coastal Range) that has NO infrastructure. There was a proposal for drinking water in the 1980’s, but the community turned it down. There has never been a proposal for sewer. Opportunities for fully funding the construction of these type of projects does not come along very often.

I have a hard time understanding why Joan Burroughs is using all these scary, hair on fire arguments. Making authoritative statements does not make them true. 

It would be far better for Joan to actually speak directly to us, the engineers and other officials rather than hurl these inflammatory accusations at us through a newspaper article. 

One more thought: No wonder we have such a hard time finding members of the community willing to serve on the CSD. Many of us have served multiple terms because of the problem of unfilled positions. Who wants to deal with this sort of thing? 

Valerie Hanelt


* * *


Dear Editor,

Joan Burroughs’ article in last week’s paper was so filled with hysteria and inaccuracies, that I thought I should respond just in case any of your readers actually read through that thicket of hyperbole.

The State does NOT require that water and wastewater systems be installed simultaneously.

The “parcels on the engineers' map” will NOT be “locked in place forever.” The system will be built to accommodate the existing usage plus some additional growth. (The figure of 10% is a guideline, not a hard restriction.) A larger amount of growth would simply require expansion of the system.

Water samples were NOT gathered by CSD directors. All the collection and analysis was done by Alpha Labs in Ukiah. The samples were from two densely populated areas of Boonville.

In November, 2018, there was a meeting for the Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This process does request comments from the public regarding support or non-support, but there was NOT any vote to be tabulated or reported. Any comments will be part of the CEQA document.

The costs to tie into the systems are NOT “infinite.” In fact they are minimal. The State is paying for all laterals for wastewater and all non-commercial laterals for water. Existing septic tanks will be decommissioned, not removed. Leach lines will remain. Existing wells are NOT “capped off and filled in.” Yes, some landscaping will be disturbed.

New property owners within the service district, after the municipal systems are in place, will have to pay a hookup fee. Maybe the fee will be as much as the stated in caps “TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS,” but that fee will be paid to the local District, NOT to the State. The property owner could avoid the charge by drilling a new well.

The proposed new services would NOT be administered by a separate board. AVCSD would gain authority from LAFCo to add these services. The utilities would be run as another department of the CSD.

There is NO ”term limit edict” for AVCSD directors.

The dilapidated building in Boonville is an eyesore, but not “dangerous” or a “real threat to the town,” according to the Fire Chief and the County. As Colin Wilson said: “There is no law against ugly buildings.” The CSD has gotten involved in this situation in the past, but they are NOT obligated to do so. Boonville is an unincorporated area, and so subject to County purview in regard to planning and building.

Not sure about the water table in Boonville being “precarious and highly fragile,” but the total draw after installing a water system should not be much more than it is now.

The danger of flooding or earthquakes will NOT change with the installation of these systems, but the danger of fire WILL definitely decrease with the addition of hydrants and sprinklers. That is where there will be potential insurance savings.

The 1974 survey done by Mendocino County Public Health that was mentioned looked at three criteria: ground contamination, high water table problems and wells located within 50 feet of septic systems. The study found that 65% of 145 residences surveyed had these problems and concluded by saying “correction can only be made by installation of public sewers.” 

Our thought was that if it was this bad in 1974, it can't have gotten better by now. The survey was 30 years after the conditions described when Boonville had 40 operating saw mills. 

There is NO questionnaire sent to “Boonville property owners regarding income levels.” Eligibility for full funding of our grants is determined by the median household income of the area, but this information comes from the American Community Survey, a branch of the US Census.

Kathleen McKenna


* * *



Happening now are unconscionable politicking acts by two GOP governors, DeSantis of Florida and Abbott of Texas, preventing masking and vaccinations within their states. The death rate nationally is about 1,300 deaths daily from Covid-19, most of these, are from the delta variant. Mortuaries cannot keep pace. 

Meanwhile two leading panemiic doctors, Dr.Anthony Fauci and Dr. Peter Hotez, are quoted today calling for the use of the Pfizer booster as quickly as possible to save lives. 

The insanity of the anti-vaccine advocates and QAnon talking heads continues. Today many diseases, like mumps, polio, covella and measles, are all prevented by early vaccines. The same could be true for Covid-19 if public-spirited citizens would only speak up to reverse these two deadly decisions. 

Frank Baumgardner

Santa Rosa

* * *



Third District Supervisor John Haschak, in his letter connecting Rich Padula to himself and one of his two brothers, has overlooked or been unaware of Rich’s friendship of many years with my grandfather, Edward Newmyer (1900-1980). 

I first met Rich in an elective class at Willits High School almost 50 years ago, in 1972, and bonded with him over ideas for his Wolverine column, “Rich’s Pitche.s” When my Grandpa moved to Willits, I was delighted to introduce them. “Ed,” as Rich called him, was a great friend of Rich’s in Willits after Rich’s freshman year at U of W. During those last years of Grandpa’s life, I, as his granddaughter, and Rich’s fiancee, were present for innumerable conversations about fire safety, real estate, backpacking, and chess (they’d play for hours, often leaving the chess board to continue the same darn game for another day). My grandpa was a real estate broker, and a veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department; during that time he survived the horrible Griffith Park Fire, the deadliest fire in California history until the Camp Fire in 2018. He was all about fire safety; he even asked for hair from my brush to show me how fast hair can burn, especially with hair spray on it. 

While the Haschak brothers were at school at UCD, Cabrillo College, UCSC & UCLA, or living in Oregon, Rich was being mentored by Ed Newmyer, and hearing about how Ed and his friend Dominic Cimino, with several other men, went to Vientiane, Laos, in 1971, to trade themselves in for American POWs, so our boys in uniform could come home. While they didn’t succeed in the man for man trade, they did put a lot of pressure on the men in power from Hanoi – and Washington! 

My grandpa, like Rich, was a risk taker, and not afraid of many or much. I’ll miss forever the days of Christmas tree hunting, snow tubing, and waffle stomping through the hills, trees, streams and mud with Rich (Rich loved the rope pulls and mud pit at WHS) and stopping by Grandpa’s for peppermint candy and long talks at the end of the day (when Grandpa wasn’t dancing at a social at St. Anthony’s) and especially going to The Creamery (the Colli sisters were very good-natured!). Although Grandpa might not have approved of ventures like the 10,000 acre vineyard project in Sonoma County, Rich tried to do (I didn’t!) it gives me a great deal of comfort to see that lessons learned almost 50 years ago, with new technology, can help save lives today. 

I hope Willits, Brooktrails, or Mendocino County never have a Griffith Park type fire, and I hope Rich and Grandpa have gone to that big chess game (or dance hall) in the sky, to be in eternal light, and comfortable seats, to talk together forever, and reunite with long passed loved ones. I’ll miss both of them dearly, until the end of my days. Stay safe, everyone, and please remember those two great men.

Evelyn Newmyer


* * *


Re: Boonville (Covid?) Fair

Dr. Andy Coren (Mendocino County Health Officer);

I must say that I am somewhat surprised by this response, considering that virus cases are growing and that by your own admission our hospitals are full. I do consider you to be my friend, and I do not mean any of this personally. My sense is that you are repeating “The County Line” and that is what I am questioning.

Your "recommendations include consideration of: requiring (through promotional material and posters for staff and attendees to show proof of full vaccination or negative test within 72 hours of entering, Universal masking indoors and recommend outdoors especially if immune compromised or unvaccinated, increased ventilation indoors and limiting indoor activities to allow 6' social distancing, attention to eating and drinking (avoiding indoors, keeping social distances, individual portions), hand hygiene, and masking and social distancing performers and during athletic events.”

Why not simply require proof of vaccination or negative test at the point of ticket sale and/or admission of participants? Would this not be a safer alternative? Surely there would be little backlash or economic harm considering that, as you say, we have so many people vaccinated?

Could you explain how the consideration of “economic harm and backlash” informs and influences your recommendations regarding public health?

How many cases of Covid transmission do you consider acceptable at such an event? What number of children infected might be acceptable? Will older people be at any risk if there are no specific requirements for admission?

If "The County cannot police these events,” why cannot they do that? Why do I always see many armed deputies and their dogs in uniform at such events? I have seen them stop and question people - are they not policing?

Charlotte, Ted;

Would either of you want to take up my question about the legality of the Fair Board deciding for themselves that there was no need to have the scheduled election? It is my position that irregardless of the outcome there should have been an election. What if the President of the US should suddenly decide that it was too much trouble to have an election and that he would just remain President? What if he just alleged that the election had been “stolen?” I also wonder if the County is taking on any additional liability because of this in case of injury or illness?

Please be aware that I consider myself to be a citizen asking questions of my government and that I reserve the right to share my questions and your response with any entity or person that I might choose.

Thomas McFadden


* * *



I am voting no on the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom. We are dealing with COVID, fires, smoke and severe drought. We certainly don’t need a government upheaval too. But these are crazy times, and a recall could succeed, I suppose. So, I Googled every person on the ballot. What a scary assortment of misfits and incompetent candidates. I found one person who, in my opinion, is competent and qualified to lead this state should the recall succeed — Keven Faulconer, a former mayor of San Diego. He gets my vote, just in case.

Kirsten Sullivan


* * *



Green golf courses are feeling the ire of citizens who have been cutting back their water usage. It has been estimated that each golf course uses an average of 130,00 gallons of water per day. If golf courses cut back water use on fairways to the point that grass is alive enough to be revived once the drought is over, they would be doing their fair share of sacrifice.

At the driving range, golfers place the ball on a slice of artificial turf. It would be easy enough to carry a similar rolled up piece of turf in the golf bag. It could have two parts, one for short grass and the other for long grass, similar to the rough. The added benefit is the protection from divots — the digging up of a chunk of grass and soil.

Golfers may have to fine-tune their game, but that’s just another challenge. With less expense for water and grounds maintenance, perhaps the fees could be lowered.

I asked a group of golfers what they thought of this idea, and they were all for it. I encourage golfers to let golf course managers know they support temporarily cutting back on water usage. Keep putting greens green, and we’ve all done our part.

Bruce Loring

Santa Rosa

* * *



The one we just lost. I mean we the little people just lost, the taxpayers.

There are of course winners who won't admit “mission accomplished” who are now billionaires who used to be just millionaires. Military contractors and their political stooges. They may appear to be dumb leaving our highly expensive equipment behind, but they are dumb all the way to the bank.

President Eisenhower warned us about the parasites in 1960 then in 1963 our president was murdered because he was changing his mind about the Vietnam scam. We have since then had a foreign policy designed to enrich the special interests at our expense. Being the police of the world is big business for parasites. The banana republics should be allowed to stew in their own juices. Then if they want to actually attack America, “Won't happen.” They can easily be neutralized.

Who is the real enemy?

Tom Madden


PS. Yes on the recall. I definitely want to get rid of our present governor because he gives passes to child killers and serial killers who now live on taxpayers for life. He does not understand justice and the weak message this sends to the world.

To our enemies we must look like idiots to allow mass murderers to live in protected comfort. Can we take any of the basketcase candidates seriously? Yes. There are a few men, women, who appeared to know right from wrong. The others were paid to run to cloud the issue and make their boy look good by comparison.

Someone who does not understand justice should not be a representative of America or a state.

* * *



An Aug. 20 news report about the state’s mandate to construct 14,500 housing units (about 40,000 new residents) in Sonoma County, with assurances of “sustainability” (so long as we locals make sufficient sacrifices on their behalf), followed by a long Aug. 21 column headlined “An urgent call for essential climate action,” reveals a not-uncommon testimony to our collective hypocrisy.

As Rome burns, we want to have our cake and eat it too, as we squander precious time. We want to continue our perpetual growth, and we want global warming problems to go away. Our tragic inability, even unwillingness, to fully grasp the problem, let alone reach agreement on effective strategy and, finally, take action, expands daily. So far, our best response is dumbfounded indifference as we pitifully await the needed quality of enlightened leadership that we would never elect to office.

The sweeping hopelessness here, as it slowly emerges into view, is overwhelming. The prospect of the utter collapse of all that we have stood for over the few centuries of our history is almost incomprehensible. This I do believe, however, is what we are currently and recklessly flirting with. God help us all.

Rorbert Beauchamp


* * *



Hine gets a thumbs up and a thumbs down.

Tom Hine’s August 29 column (about helping local papers survie) gets one thumb up and one thumb down from me. I read the column online with my subscription to the Ukiah Daily Journal, and absolutely agree that more people should invest in one themselves. Electronic news never gets eaten by your neighbor’s dog, and you do learn a lot about what’s going on here in town. But asking writers to provide reporting services for free is a hard no. The net effect is it devalues a service that is already underpaid, which makes journalism even harder to pursue as a career. I say this as someone who wrote a column for the paper for a year, on the theory that it would be “good exposure.” It was!

Lots of people saw it and let me know they enjoyed my writing. But then people asked me to get their news and events into the paper as well, with no intent to pay me. OK cool, but I don’t want to hear your low opinion of the unhoused if you’re not helping me to pay rent with my labor. If the paper is a business, it needs to be able to pay its workers. I support pursuing grants for journalism, and believe our government should invest more into media and critical thinking education. If the paper wanted to have a subscription drive in the mold of public radio, I would personally slap on a mask and shake down farmers market patrons to help meet that goal. Let’s work to attract more readers so we can pay writers what they’re worth. And definitely do subscribe! Journalism matters.

Heather Seggel


* * *



Labor Day is supposed to recognize the contributions labor has made to America’s strength, prosperity and well-being. If you work an eight-hour day, 40-hour week, receive sick leave, workers’ compensation, overtime, paid vacation or Social Security, you can thank labor unions. And how do we thank American labor?

There are approximately 4.9 million low-wage workers in California. Our minimum wage is $13 per hour. Why should any full-time worker have to work at a job that pays a poverty wage? American workers deserve a living wage, a wage that provides a modest standard of living that allows workers to live out of poverty. When employers won’t pay a living wage, our government must provide economic assistance. Why should citizens subsidize companies that pay slave wages?

Too many Americans think of Labor Day as just another three-day weekend that celebrates the conclusion of a great summer with beer, barbecues and baseball. But shouldn’t Labor Day be a time to show deep respect to those who keep the economy humming? Let’s show our respect by demanding that employers who benefit from American workers’ labor pay them a fair living wage.

Gene A. Hottel

Santa Rosa

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *