Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happenings: Smart Meter Scares, Open Space, and a Plaque

The two biggest points of contention at tonight’s City Council Meeting were not agendized: (1)A local advisory committee felt ignored and disrespected, and (2)The mayor expressed serious concern over the impending installation of smart meters by Southern California Edison.[1]

The meeting began, as usual, with an invocation. “Thursday’s Thanksgiving,” revealed Councilmember Bob Kellar, who then gave a brief overview of the religious, familial, and political implications of the observance.

After the flag salute, the City Council applauded seven awards from the International Festival and Events Association. They included recognition for excellent events for children, stellar event websites, and even a bronze for the “Best Pin or Button” category (Cowboy Festival, in case you were wondering. I still have mine—it‘s a fine pin).

When each member of the City Council had a chance to share updates, Councilmember Ferry passed. Mayor Pro-Tem Laurie Ender spoke about Thanksgiving dinner at the community center; over 600 people came. She also highlighted Santa Clarita Public Library’s support of book clubs, and she expressed her delight that a number of students from Valencia High School were attending the City Council meeting for class. Councilmember Bob Kellar lauded the annual Festival of Trees, benefiting the Boys & Girls Club. Councilmember Laurene Weste reflected on the death of Alan Mootnick, the man who ran the Gibbon Conservation Center in Saugus.

Mayor Marsha McLean focused her comments on the installation of smart meters throughout Santa Clarita. Southern California Edison is adding the electricity-monitoring devices in the valley beginning this month. They're "smart" because they can transmit electricity usage information remotely. McLean expressed some anxiety over what installation means for people on life support equipment, since power is briefly disrupted to install the device. She also mentioned concerns about the safety and security of transmitting information about energy use. McLean encouraged residents to visit the SCE website or call their hotline if they wished to be put on a delay list out of concern over power disruption, radio wave emissions, etc. Her main issue was a lack of earlier notification of installation, and Councilmember Weste was sympathetic to her concerns[2].

The Consent Calendar wasn’t very substantial. Two items improved traffic signals and safety on Carnegie/Barcotta as well as Seco Canyon Frontage Road.

Another item recommended purchasing about 18-acres in Placerita Canyon to set aside as open space. Including fees and improvements, the price tag was $90,000. Cam Noltemeyer said of the property “It’s probably worthless in this market,” citing personal concerns over contamination from oil and the Whittaker-Bermite site. Jim Farley, who maintains that the assessment funding open space acquisition is improper/illegal, said that he thought the acquisition would be of limited benefit to the community. Rather than contributing to a green belt around the city, he said the property merely provided a site for Placerita Canyon horse owners to go trail-riding.

Finally, per the requirements of the Maddy Act, the last item presented a list of local appointments to various commissions, committees, and boards. Staff recommended it be made available in local libraries for review. Cam Noltemeyer saw the list as a reminder that term limits might be useful (some appointments have been in place since the 90s).

A motion to take the recommended actions for the six Consent Calendar items was seconded and passed with a unanimous vote.

During Public Participation, Anna Frutos Sanchez, representing SoCal Edison, was eager to set the record straight about smart meters. She said that she was there to share information and correct the rumors (it was reminiscent of how the CC addresses purportedly misinformed citizens). “Given the technological changes it is understandable that some people may have questions,” she said. However, she asserted that the smart meters raised no privacy concerns, had been tested for safety, and were no cause for alarm. Mayor McLean thanked Sanchez for her message, but closed the topic by re-stating the number to delay installation of a smart meter at one’s home. It was clear that McLean had not been convinced.

Pam Hogan, of Veterans Memorial Committee, Inc., spoke about a subject that clearly upset her. A pedestal/plaque was recently added to the Veterans Historical Plaza. It honors State Senator Pete Knight, an accomplished Air Force vet who helped secure funding for the plaza before his death in 2004. The trouble was, Hogan and other members of the Veterans Memorial Committee didn’t want the plaque. As summarized in an agenda item from August of this year, “SCV Veterans Memorial, Inc. considered the proposal, and prefers that the recognition for Senator Knight be consistent with the recognition for Assemblyman Runner, as both gentlemen were pivotal in securing funding for the purchase of the property that became the Plaza.[3] In other words, they wanted Knight’s name on the donor wall, not on a special plaque. Hogan and her husband, a Vietnam vet,felt that the City Council had seriously disrespected them by ignoring their opinion on the plaque. I’m not clear on why the recognition was so contested and the cause for so much offense (comment if you know), but you can read the old agenda item for more information[3].

Before the meeting adjourned, Laurie Ender turned to Frank Ferry and reminded him that he came very close to death due to surgical complications this time last year (she used different words, obviously). “Of the many things I’m thankful for, a year later, you’re still here,” she told Frank.

Happy Thanksgiving.

[1]Here's a very small agenda

[2]Common questions about smart meters, answered

[3]Here's the item


Alan Ferdman said...

For those of you that have additional questions on So Cal Edison’s Smart Meter program please be aware that Anna M Frutos-Sanchez SCE Regional Manager will be presenting information and answering questions at the January 18 Canyon Country Advisory Committee Meeting. This will be an opportunity to ask questions in-person and get answers.

In the mean time, should you have any reluctance about the program, it is the SCE recommendation you call 1 (800) 810-2369 for general information or to be placed on the delayed implementation list. Also call SCE at 1 (800) 973-2356 if you have life support or other sensitive medical equipment.

Anonymous said...

Don't give the smart meter scare mongerers any more attention. You get more radiation from your smartphone than the meter.