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Valley People (Dec. 20, 2017)

IT WAS positively inspiring to see so many Anderson Valley people at a recent meeting of the Board’s Public Health, Safety, and Resources Standing Committee (made up of just John McCowen and Dan Hamburg) to lament and oppose the requirement for fire sprinklers and other new requirements in new housing construction under Mendo’s decades old Class K ordinance. Making cogent, non-duplicative arguments (but mainly to keep construction simpler and costs down) to “Keep The Cabin Code,” were AV residents Stephanie Gold, Dennis Toohey, Robert ‘Captain Rainbow’ Salsbury, Jim Boudoures, Darius Richmond, Jeff Ellis, Greg Krouse, Angela DeWitt, and Larry Mailliard — plus several others all in opposition to essentially gutting Class K. In short, AV people, like most people in the County, want the Class K rule book left as is and oppose imposition of indoor sprinklers and perimeter foundations and such which, as Captain Rainbow pointed out, will drive more people into trailers because trailers don't require sprinklers or into a kind of unpermitted outlaw construction world. Greg Krouse, Philo, said he knew a person who simply put a garden sprinkler on top of the OUTside of his house, logically assuming that in this area the fire hazard mostly comes from without not from within. The County's position, boiled down, is that they have to go for sprinklers because the state's demanding them and they have very little choice. The only reason it came up is that a planner thought the Class K ordinance should be “updated” to new building codes, never mind that there’s been no problem or complaint about it for lo these many decades. Too bad they couldn’t have simply not brought it up. The committee asked staff to prepare a legal opinion and some slightly tweaked — but still Class K-killing — language and bring it back before the Board in January or February. In all likelihood the legal opinion will be that even the small proposed tweaks will be ruled out.

PERSONNEL NOTE. Gregory Sims, PhD, has been appointed a visiting scholar by Stanford University, meaning full access to university facilities, especially the library and its vast special collections. Dr. Sims makes his local home in Philo.

A LOCAL WONDERS: “Am I the only one who is aware of the leash laws in this County?  People are blaming drivers for hitting dogs on the roads and nowhere is anyone realizing that the owners who don't contain their dogs are at fault!  Aargh.”

INTERESTING historical piece from Mr. Lemos of Mendocino’s Kelly House about the intrepid women who carried the mail from Rockport to Gualala during World War Two.

“…. Sisters Toni and Lu Robinson had recently moved to the North Coast to live with their parents in the old Pullen House south of Little River. They were hired by USPS to drive the mail and, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

ANDERSON VALLEY’S JAN WALKER is certainly in the tradition of the Robinson sisters. Try Jan’s schedule, I dare you. From her home in Yorkville, Jan picks up the mail in Cloverdale, drives it back to Boonville and Philo, over Greenwood Road to Manchester and Point Arena where she delivers all the way up the hill to PA’s old Air Force radar station, then back to Cloverdale and from Cloverdale finally home to her home in Yorkville. Six days a week for 31 years (since 1987) without so much as a fender bender!

THINGS WE LIKE: The lights left on all night in Boonville’s Methodist Church, lending all of us the beautifully illuminated stained glass windows gracing one of The Valley’s oldest structures. And the jolly young man who presides over the Seabass Winery’s Boonville tasting room where farm produce from the winery’s Talmage mothership is occasionally offered for sale….

PUT ON YER bonaroos, Anderson Valley, the New York Times will be in town for a week beginning this Friday

MR. McCARTHY of Elk, and the invaluable Mendocino Sports Plus, constantly monitors the Navarro River where it sometimes flows into the Pacific. He writes: “The new reality for Highway 128 is the sandbar refusing to breach at the mouth - and water subsequently backing up and flooding the SR-128 roadway just east of the Highway 1 bridge when the river level approaches 4.0' at the upstream USGS river gauge. It happened last year in mid-November (for 6 days!) when Highway 128 was closed by CalTrans, in a twist of irony, for 128 hours. This year the closure was for only 36 hours (November 20 - 22nd) before the sandbar breached and the river drained. The mouth of the Russian River has the same problem as the Navarro - when the sandbar won't breach, the town of Jenner floods. Unlike the "brains" we have in Mendocino County, the Sonoma County Water Agency worked out a deal back in 2010 with the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies (including the National Marie Fisheries Service) whereby they "breach" their sandbar to prevent upstream flooding. Duh. They used to do it to the Navarro River sandbar all the time "back in the day." Sometimes they breach the Russian River in a unique way designed to prevent flooding while creating a fresh-water lagoon to benefit young steelhead and salmon. Juvenile steelhead and chinook salmon, which are on the federal threatened species list, and coho, which are endangered, stay briefly in the lagoon at Jenner before swimming out into the ocean to feed. Of course, MSP has proposed a simple solution that would also work. CalTrans needs to simply create their own sandbar in the pullout east of the bridge. If they capped the drainage culverts on the north side of the road, then piled sand in the turnout on the south side for about 150 yards, the backed up water would flood farther east - where there is a broad marshland and the roadway is higher than the "dip" where it floods just east of the bridge.”

RENEE PASQUINELLI State Parks clarified: “State Parks is responsible for management of the Navarro property. We too have received questions regarding the closure of the river mouth. This situation has existed for decades; the difference is the previous tenant of the Mill Keepers house artificially breached the mouth (sometimes in the middle of the night) to protect his chemical shed. Below is a recent response that I wrote to Superintendent Loren Rex regarding the Navarro breaching question: River breaching is subject to regulation by the Army Corps of Engineers, Regional Water Quality Control Board, State Lands Commission, and CA Department of Fish and Wildlife. State Parks does not have the authority to simply breach the mouth. Also, past studies have concluded that artificial breaching without adequate rainfall can be lethal to estuary species. Estuaries contain salt and fresh water; the heavier salt water sinks to the bottom forming a highly saline lens beneath a somewhat freshwater upper layer. Breaching siphons off the top freshwater layer, leaving the highly saline layer beneath. Organisms that were able to escape the toxic saline layer prior to breaching have been trapped at the bottom and killed by the saline “brine.” I have literally seen thousands of dead fish, crabs, and other organisms at the Navarro after an illegal breaching incident several years ago. Unfortunately, the Navarro discussions escalate only when people see the closed river mouth and want access to the beach. This stimulates a perception that something has to be done now. Ideally, we need a long term management plan for the Navarro estuary. As I recall from my past work in the Russian River area, Sonoma County Water Agency ultimately worked with Army Corps, the public, and the other regulatory agencies to develop a river mouth plan that included breaching — but the work was justified to prevent flooding of private residences on the lower Russian River. Also, as I recall, the compromise was that the river had to be monitored such that breaching could only occur when certain ecological conditions existed. I would welcome the opportunity to work with CDFW and the other regulatory agencies to pursue funding for a long term plan. For now, there is little threat to the Navarro facilities from the high water level (the Inn was raised a few years ago), and as I understand, there is a great potential for die off of sensitive species if illegal breaching occurs.”

SANTA CLAUS, an investigative report. It took our ava reportorial task force two weeks of digging, but we eventually discovered that Randy Lane was Santa Claus at this year's Anderson Valley Unity Club Holiday Bazaar. And a darned good Santa, from all accounts.

MEANWHILE, in the acoustical torture chamber of the Point Arena gym where the PA Pirates hosted their annual Jolly Roger basketball tourney last weekend, the Boonville girls dropped two as their male counterparts split, knocking off a startled Willits but losing to arch-rival Mendocino, 66-47, as crafty Cardinal coach Jerry Young puzzled out Boonville coach Luis Espinoza's famous "squid" defense, that relentless, full court man-to-man Espinoza deploys in lieu of offensive fire power.

JUST IN: AV Boys knocked off host Point Arena late Saturday afternoon to take third place in the tournament.

COACH ABEL MALDONADO reports on another big year for AV soccer: “We finished 14-3-4. Runner up in the NCS III. We lost the championship game at home in PK's vs Roseland Collegiate (Nov 8). The game was played in the rain in very cold and wet conditions. We only lost to two schools. We are a very young squad, losing only 2 seniors for next year. We have 5-6 freshmen starters. This is going to be a very exciting team in the next three years. Even though we lost the final this is pound for pound the best small high school team in the state. This year, we focused on developing our raw talent, especially the younger players and it paid off, but we have so many more areas where we can improve.

1st team all-league: Carlos Hernandez, Ulises Garcia

2nd team all-league: Brian Bucio, Juan Reinoso

All league Special Mention: Cristobal Gonsalez

Ulises Garcia also received our team MVP.

Carlos Hernandez and Alex Tovar received our Coaches Award.

I am not big on giving a lot of awards, but all of these kids should have made 1st team all-league. Unfortunately, we only get two spots.”

EVEN WITHOUT the erosion of rental housing by Air B ’n B and other pirates of the booming transient housing industry, the Anderson Valley, like every other area of Mendocino County, was woefully short of rentals, and much of what was available was only minimally habitable by civilized standards. Fort Bragg has just green-lighted another Cypress Village, the town’s low-cost units at the south end of town. Cypress is a model of what can be done to create genuinely affordable homes. With all the money now floating around the Anderson Valley, perhaps the Anderson Valley Housing Association can round enough of it up to build a Cypress Village of our own. There are plenty of likely building sites certainly.

RECOMMENDED VISIT: Next time you’re in Fort Bragg, take a look at Cypress Village next door to the Fort Bragg Police Department. It’s a model of what government can do if there’s the political will to do it.

FROM the Chron's weekly gastro-celebrations:

"…Rural Northern California is seeing the culinary effects of this outmigration, too. Bay Area chefs are opening restaurants in small towns where food of the caliber they make has long been rare. In Philo (Mendocino County), for instance, Gary Danko alumnus Patrick Meany bakes Neapolitan-style pizzas at Stone & Embers. In Arroyo Grande (San Luis Obispo County), Chez Panisse veteran Brian Collins practices wood-fire cooking at Ember. At Park Winters Inn in Winters (Yolo County), Scott Ostrander, who spent several years at Alinea in Chicago, oversees seven-course tasting menus. Living in rural Mendocino County brought one burned-out San Francisco chef back into the restaurant industry. By his mid-20s, Aaron Peters had run the kitchens at PlumpJack Cafe and Aram’s. But he and his then-wife gave up restaurants to farm organically near the coastal city of Point Arena (population under 500). A divorce left Peters without a farm after a decade of selling produce at Mendocino County farmers’ markets. In April 2016, he scraped together his savings and opened Bird Cafe and Supper Club, connected to a bar on the town’s main street. He opens four nights a week, cooking almost everything himself. He buys octopus and crab from a guy who fishes at the coast, and cheese from a dairy farmer friend. His lettuces are picked each morning on nearby farms.

Peters takes a break in the afternoon to walk his 6-year-old daughter home from school, and sometimes brings her into the kitchen with him.

“I used to work 16-hour days, 6 days a week, and then sleep all day on the seventh,” he said. “I could never imagine doing that and having a kid and feel like I was involved.”

“I’ve never had a sandwich on my menu before, but I keep one, because it’s what the guys at the bar want,” said Peters. “I’ve found ways that work for me so I’m able to make it interesting and still totally approachable.”

Peters says that running a restaurant in Point Arena has been a challenge, yet his long hours are offset by other benefits. “It’s about the lifestyle — it’s more mellow, nicer,” he said. “When you leave the restaurant it’s incredibly gorgeous. You can walk to the beach, the hills, the river. That makes a big difference.”

Peters & daughter

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