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Archives for March 22, 2016

Tamarack beach intersection eyed for upgrades – The San Diego Union

— Carlsbad is looking for ways to make one of its busiest seaside intersections safer for pedestrians, cyclists and ocean-bound surfers.

Improving the Tamarack Avenue/Carlsbad Boulevard intersection will be the latest in a series of projects the city has undertaken over the past several years to make it easier for visitors to reach the beach — arguably Carlsbad’s biggest asset.

A series of public meetings to discuss ideas will begin in May or June, said Assistant City Manager Gary Barberio. Similar meetings have been held to brainstorm ideas for the Ocean Street stairways, the Terramar bluff-top neighborhood at Cannon Road and Carlsbad Boulevard, and other areas along the coastal highway.

“We’re looking at trying to improve the coastal experience the whole length of Carlsbad Boulevard through the city,” Barberio said. The boulevard is the city’s stretch of historic Coast Highway 101.

Already along Carlsbad Boulevard the city has added sidewalks and safety railings on the railroad bridge near Oceanside at a cost of $1.9 million; installed a lighted gateway sign in the heart of the Village for about $225,000; completed a $1 million roundabout at State Street; added several crosswalks; and created all-way pedestrian crossings at Carlsbad Village Drive and Grand Avenue.

Also, through a partnership with the state Department of Parks and Recreation, the city has worked to improve the Ocean Street parking lot and upgrade the landscaping, restrooms and picnic facilities above Carlsbad State Beach. The state owns about 5 of the city’s 7 miles of shoreline.

The busy Tamarack intersection is at the entrance to the public parking lot serving the state beach, which stretches from Pine Avenue to Cannon Road.

There’s only one east-west crosswalk at the intersection. City officials have proposed adding a second crosswalk on the southern side of Tamarack, along with other changes.

One of the biggest needs is a wider sidewalk on the Carlsbad Boulevard bridge that stretches over the jetty south of the intersection, Barberio said. The existing sidewalk is about 5 feet wide, part of which is taken up a guardrail facing the highway, leaving barely enough room for two people to walk side-by-side.

Ideally, he said, the sidewalk would be widened to about 13 feet from the intersection to the seawall that begins on the northern end of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. The bridge itself would not be widened, but a vehicle traffic lane could be eliminated or narrowed.

“I would love a wider sidewalk,” said Linda Kemper, a Carlsbad resident walking along Carlsbad Boulevard on Friday with her friend Judy Champ.

Both women agreed that a second crosswalk is needed at Tamarack.

The improvements made recently in the city’s downtown Village were much appreciated, Kemper said, especially the two “scramble” intersections that allow pedestrians to cross diagonally from corner to corner during red lights on Carlsbad Boulevard at Carlsbad Village Drive and and Grand Avenue.

“I like the way everybody crosses at the same time,” she said.

Three alternatives are being considered for vehicular traffic at the Tamarack intersection: an improved version of the existing four lanes with traffic signals; three lanes with signals; or two lanes with a roundabout.

Also being considered are ways to eliminate the “pork chop”-shaped island, a small piece of pavement with a bus stop between the entrance and exit to the parking lot, Barberio said.

There’s no scramble in the mix, but residents are welcome to offer comments and suggestions at the upcoming public meetings. No dates have been set.

Carlsbad has $1 million for part of the Tamarack intersection work in its 2015-16 capital improvement budget and is eligible for a grant of $1.25 million for the rest of the job from the San Diego Association of Governments, Barberio said.

The city set aside $6 million in its 2014-15 capital improvement budget for the Terramar improvements, and $2.6 million in the 2015-16 capital improvement budget for the Ocean Street stairway upgrades.

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3-2 votes continue on Hueneme council

STAR FILE PHOTO Port Hueneme City Hall

By Anne Kallas, Special to The Star

The Port Hueneme City Council again showed its deep divisions at Monday’s meeting, where the panel voted 3-2 to approve a response to a cease-and-desist letter from the Ventura District Attorney’s Office and 3-2 to pass a spending measure.

Councilmen Tom Figg and Jim Hensley have been at odds with the council majority of Mayor Doug Breeze, Councilman Jon Sharkey and Councilwoman Sylvia Muñoz Schnopp since shortly after taking office in December 2014.

The cease-and-desist letter, dated in February, is partially the result of a team-building meeting Oct. 31, where Figg was escorted out after objecting to several accusations from Sharkey that Figg thought were directed at him. Hensley left shortly after.

The council then went into closed session and afterward announced the characteristics it wanted in a new city manager.

According to the letter from Ventura County Deputy District Attorney Thomas Frye, the council erred by discussing general criteria for the interim city manager and city manager in closed session. The letter notes that the Ralph M. Brown Act is interpreted as requiring everything to be discussed in an open meeting except personnel issues associated with specific individuals.

Port Hueneme City Attorney Mark Hensley (no relation to Jim Hensley) drafted a letter in response stating that the council that does not acknowledge any Brown Act violations, but does agree to cease and desist from any such behavior in the future.

Figg voted against approving the draft, saying, “I object to the letter which misrepresents that those ideas were publicly disclosed. The real problems are with the type of legal counsel we are receiving.”

Also voting against it was Councilman Hensley, who questioned the cost of drafting it. Attorney Hensley said the response cost close to $400.

In addressing the city’s budget earlier in the evening, Interim City Manager John Baker said he was told to keep the city’s reserves at $6 million, but given that the city’s current spending outpaces revenue, it will be facing a negative reserve balance — or insolvency — by 2017-18, “unless some significant changes are made.”

Baker said he and other city staff will be putting a budget together to present to the council within the next two months. The 2015-16 budget wasn’t approved until November, and Baker said they will be including expenses from the remainder of that budget year, along with the proposed 2016-17 budget, which totals about $2 million more than revenues at this point.

Baker is proposing to fill that gap by creating $1.9 million in savings, including $828,136 for unfilled positions, $346,501 by contracting out maintenance and landscaping duties and $377,468 in employee concessions, all for 2016-17. Savings will also be achieved by cutting city administration and city clerk expenses, reducing the Chamber of Commerce subsidy and recreation program expenses.

The council approved the plan 3-2, but only after sparing $175,900 for the city’s lifeguard and junior lifeguard programs.

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White House Hopes to Spark Recycled Water Tech in California

(TNS) — Occupants of 11,000 new single-family houses under construction near Tracy will be able to recycle their shower, bath, laundry and sink water on site using a system designed by Australian water engineers, one of dozens of new water technologies the White House will showcase at its big “water summit” Tuesday.

Hoping to leapfrog a Congress still trying to wring more water out of California’s over-drafted rivers, the Obama administration wants to replicate for water the push it made on solar power nearly eight years ago to jump start new technologies and coordinate the federal response to droughts.

President Obama views efforts to address climate change as a key piece of his legacy, and White House officials view drought as among the most dire consequences of a warming climate. After last fall’s climate talks in Paris, the administration immediately targeted water as a priority.

The White House issued a governmentwide directive Monday to reduce the nation’s vulnerability to drought, which it said “poses a serious and growing threat to the security and economies of communities nationwide.” Toward that effort, administration officials said 150 businesses and nonprofits will pledge $4 billion in private capital to improve water resiliency.

World Water Day

White House science adviser John Holdren, who has been helping drive the administration’s water policy, said Tuesday’s summit was planned to coincide with World Water Day, and while it comes at the tail end of the Obama presidency, “we’ll be passing along a lot of good ideas about what works and what doesn’t.”

Technically known as “gray water,” the soapy effluent of showers, sinks and laundry has long been an obvious source of new water supply. Most of the focus, however, has been on building large recycling plants that ferry household sewage to a centralized treatment plant.

Treating gray water within each home is “conceptually sort of like solar panels,” said Ralph Petroff, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Nexus eWater, an Australian startup that moved to California last year. The company designed the system employed at River Islands, a master-planned development in the town of Lathrop (San Joaquin County), near Tracy. The company calls the project “the first major development in the world” to combine on-site gray water reuse with recycled energy from the home water heater.

“When the energy crisis hit, people said, ‘Let’s build huge power plants,’” Petroff said. But that takes decades and cost tens of billions of dollars, he said, so rooftop solar began catching on.

“There is a similar dynamic now,” he said. “People say, ‘We’ve got a water crisis. We need a lot more water, so we’ll build recycling and desal (desalination) plants,’ and it’ll take 15 years and cost billions. So our solution, similar to solar panels, is to do it on-site and do it during construction.”

The houses will have separate gray-water plumbing, with two underground tanks and a recycling unit about half the size of a refrigerator turned on its side, said Nexus eWater chief executive Tom Wood. The system adds $8,000 to $10,000 to the cost of each house, but will be amortized in a monthly bill partially offset by savings in water and sewer charges. The water can be used to flush toilets but mainly will go outdoors for landscaping and car washing. The system does not include toilet or kitchen waste, so-called black water, but still can reduce household use by an estimated 40 to 60 percent.

Advantages of Recycling

Cynthia Koehler, who will attend the summit as executive director of WaterNow, a nonprofit that works on reducing urban water use, said reusing gray water is critical because half of all household water is used outside. She called gray water recycling a “two-fer” that reduces a home’s intake of water and helps maintain some level of landscaping, which is environmentally preferable to covering everything with pavement.

Showcased projects will range far beyond gray water. Ceres, a water nonprofit that opened an office in San Francisco last year, will also announce a “water climate bonds standard” to provide scientific guidelines that can help investors evaluate the credibility of “green” water bonds. Kirsten James, Ceres’ senior manager for California policy and partnerships, said the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will be the first to issue a bond under the new standard for storm-water capture and wastewater treatment.

At the summit Tuesday, Stanford University and Aqua Geo Frameworks will release maps made from sensor-equipped helicopters that collect data on alluvial sands in the San Joaquin Valley to help farmers know when to pump or when to refill aquifers. The UC Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative will unveil a system that combines conventional groundwater data with modeling tools to create a groundwater accounting system that water managers will be able to use by next year.

And NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology will commit to elevate its Western States water modeling project to a high priority spaceflight mission, providing detailed information on snow, surface water in rivers and reservoirs, soil moisture and groundwater.

Data Lacking

Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute, an Oakland nonprofit that works on water issues, said the efforts to improve water use, including everything from federal data collection to corporate sustainability planning, lag far behind attention to energy use and carbon emissions.

“It’s been a long time since there’s been any executive-level attention to water issues in the U.S.,” said Gleick, who will attend the summit. “We’re incredibly bad at collecting critically important data,” citing the collection of national water data once every five years as just one example.

Corporate stewardship programs to make supply chains more sustainable when it comes to water use are just beginning.

“That’s a critical piece of the puzzle,” Gleick said, “but it’s a very big puzzle.”

©2016 the San Francisco Chronicle Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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XScape Landscaping Design and Construction build new backyard for woman battling brain cancer

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Everything in the garden’s lovely for Burwash landscape company

Burwash Weald based Frogheath Landscapes have been awarded the top accolade at the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) Awards 2016

The company was awarded the APL ‘Supreme Award’ for their work on the project ‘Brede,’ landscaping the formal gardens surrounding a rare timber and brick 16th century sheep barn in the Brede Valley.

Steven Moody of Frogheath Landscapes said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been given this award but it is very much a team effort. Frogheath’s success is largely due to the amazing collaboration between us, the designer, the specialist contractors, the suppliers and of course the gardening team who continue to maintain the high standards of the garden.”

The winners, announced at awards at The Brewery in London on March 4, gained national recognition for their achievements and are testament to the high calibre landscaping offered by APL members. The awards now in their 20th year, recognise and promote the very best in landscaping in categories that range from smaller projects to contracts in excess of £250,000. Frogheath’s ‘Supreme Award’ was in the category of over £250,000 and they were also ‘Commended’ for two other gardens in the £35,000–£60,000 and £60,000–£100,000 categories.

This year’s judges were Richard Barnard from Hillier Landscapes (Chair;) Chris Young RHS, Editor of The Garden Magazine; Steve Shore from Shore Landscapes; Bob Sweet, former RHS Head of Garden Judging; Robin Templar Williams from Robin Williams and Associates and Phil Tremayne, APL National Account Manager.

The Association of Professional Landscapers comprises accredited landscape companies who design, build and maintain gardens throughout the UK. The APL is the only landscaping scheme operator of Trustmark, a Government endorsed initiative that promotes professional trades to consumers.

Frogheath Landscapes has hit the headlines more than once. The firm employs young apprentices appointed through the Heathfield Works! scheme which gives young people, currently not working or studying, the chance to embark on a new career or course. The apprentices remain with Frogheath and have helped win Chelsea Gold medals in several consecutive years. Most recent were The Potter’s Garden in 2014 and The Trugmaker’s Garden in 2015 plus Gold at the RHS Royal Hampton Court Flower Show last year for the conceptual Synaesthesia Garden.

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Best Nursery: Vicki’s Country Gardens – Twin Falls Times

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Home Help: Tips for gardening in a small space

Posted Mar. 21, 2016 at 11:18 AM
Updated Mar 21, 2016 at 11:21 AM

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Jack Christensen’s garden tips for the week starting March 19

1 No refuge for weeds: I know I keep harping on this, but it’s important to keep weeds out of the garden — not only so it looks better and prevents new seeds from forming, but also because it reduces the number of tiny insects called thrips, which enter and feed on immature rose buds and other flowers, turning blossoms a dirty brown. Since thrips feed on young petals as they develop, it’s very difficult to stop or control them. So the best control is prevention — by keeping the weeds away.

2 Go green: Pale green leaves and the rapid growth of spring indicates a need for nitrogen, the first number in all three-number plant food formulas and the prime nutrient in all balanced plant foods. It’s nitrogen that promotes deep-green foliage. Yet nitrogen levels are naturally low in Southern California soils. Almost all shrubs and trees will grow more beautifully and develop more luxuriant foliage with a spring feeding of any balanced plant food relatively high in nitrogen.

3 Be water-aware: Remember — plants in containers dry out faster than plants in the ground, so they need to be watered more frequently, especially when the wind blows or warm temperatures prevail. Since nitrogen and other nutrients are limited in container soils, add liquid fertilizer every time you water potted plants in order to keep them growing actively. And watch out for weeds in containers (and in the ground). Weeds rob desirable plants of needed moisture and food — and detract from their beauty, too.

4 Wisteria lane: The best time to prune wisteria is immediately after its flowers fade. The same with lilacs and other spring-blooming plants. Pruning these plants at this season ensures optimal flowering next time, whether you prune heavily or merely trim to maintain size and shape. It also has the added benefit of reducing the number of seed pods — a definite plus on wisteria and some other varieties.

5 Division time: When cymbidium orchid flowers wither, its time to divide crowded plants by removing them from the container, breaking up the root ball, and shaking off most of the planter mix. Divide into clumps of three to five leafy pseudobulbs, and remove the old dead-looking “bulbs” along with all the straggly old roots. Dust cut or broken bulb ends with sulfur, or allow them to dry over night. Repot with fresh orchid mix.

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