Showing posts with label Newport Beach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Newport Beach. Show all posts

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Californians Keep Up With Joneses’ Water Use


Photo
Ron Carpenter, a Sacramento city inspector, responding to a watering complaint. Californians are turning in their neighbors. Credit Max Whittaker for The New York Times



LOS ANGELES — For all the doomsday proclamations about the historic drought that has this state in a chokehold, here is what Californians have done to save water: not much.
In five months since the drought emergency was declared, Californians have cut their water consumption only 5 percent compared with recent years, according to state officials — a far cry from the 20 percent that Gov. Jerry Brown called for in January.
So, faced with apparent indifference to stern warnings from state leaders and media alarms, cities across California have encouraged residents to tattle on their neighbors for wasting water — and the residents have responded in droves. Sacramento, for instance, has received more than 6,000 reports of water waste this year, up twentyfold from last year.
Loretta Franzi has called the Sacramento water-waste hotline “a number of times” in recent months.
“You can hear people running their sprinklers when it’s dark because they don’t want to get caught watering when they’re not supposed to be — it’s maddening,” said Ms. Franzi, 61, a retiree. “You can tell the people who are conserving because their lawns are brown. The lawns that are really green, there’s something wrong.”

The state is experiencing the worst drought in its history. Find out just how bad the situation is getting and what it means for you.
Video Credit By Carrie Halperin and Sean Patrick Farrell on Publish Date July 5, 2014. Image CreditStuart Palley/European Pressphoto Agency
Sacramento has issued more than 2,000 notices of violations since the start of the year — including citations to some of Ms. Franzi’s neighbors — and the city is part of a region that has reduced its water consumption 10 percent from previous years, the highest percentage of any region in the state. (Not every water agency in the state responded to the board’s survey, though most did.)
“It’s becoming a competition to not have the greenest lawn anymore,” said Dave Brent, the director of utilities in Sacramento. “You want to have a lawn that’s alive but on life support.”
It does get personal. Some drought-conscious Californians have turned not only to tattling, but also to an age-old strategy to persuade friends and neighbors to cut back: shaming. On Twitter, radio shows and elsewhere, Californians are indulging in such sports as shower-shaming (trying to embarrass a neighbor or relative who takes a leisurely wash), car-wash-shaming and lawn-shaming.
“Is washing the sidewalk with water a good idea in a drought @sfgov?” Sahand Mirzahossein, a 32-year-old management consultant, posted on Twitter, along with a picture of a San Francisco city employee cleaning the sidewalk with a hose. (He said he hoped a city official would respond to his post, but he never heard back.)
Drought-shaming may sound like a petty, vindictive strategy, and officials at water agencies all denied wanting to shame anyone, preferring to call it “education” or “competition.” But there are signs that pitting residents against one another can pay dividends.
In Los Angeles, water officials will soon offer residents door hangers, which they are encouraged to slip anonymously around the doorknobs of neighbors whose sprinklers are watering the sidewalk. The notices offer a prim reminder of the local water rules and the drought.

 
The Irvine Ranch Water District, meanwhile, shows residents how their water consumption compares with that of other homes in the area — and puts labels on customers’ bills that range from “low volume” to “wasteful.”
“Not everyone realizes what a severe drought we’re in, or understands how their actions affect the whole system,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, which issued the report on water saving. “Just showing people what they’re doing vis-à-vis their neighbors motivates them. Shaming comes in when you’re worse. You want to be as clever as your neighbor.”
Of course, asking neighbors to inform on one another does come with drawbacks.
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“You can hear people running their sprinklers when it’s dark because they don’t want to get caught watering when they’re not supposed to be — it’s maddening,” said Loretta Franzi, a  Sacramento resident who has called the city’s water-waste hotline. Credit Max Whittaker for The New York Times
In Santa Cruz, dozens of complaints have come from just a few residents, who seem to be trying to use the city’s tight water restrictions to indulge old grudges.
“You get people who hate their neighbors and chronically report them in hopes they’ll be thrown in prison for wasting water,” said Eileen Cross, Santa Cruz’s water conservation manager. People claim water-waste innocence, she said, and ask: “Was that my neighbor? She’s been after me ever since I got that dog.”
Ms. Franzi said that in her Sacramento neighborhood, people were now looking askance at one another, wondering who reported them for wasting water.
“There’s a lot of suspiciousness,” Ms. Franzi said. “It’s a little uncomfortable at this point.” She pointed out that she and her husband have proudly replaced their green lawn with drought-resistant plants, and even cut back showers to once every few days.
One of her neighbors, a woman in her 90s, is convinced that Ms. Franzi reported her to the city.
“Right now, she’s out watering the grass with the hose in the middle of the day, looking over her shoulder at me like, ‘Are you going to report me?’ ” Ms. Franzi said.
(Ms. Franzi insisted that she did not report this neighbor, saying she did not feel comfortable issuing a complaint about someone she knew personally.)
On the flip side are people who have tried to turn dead, brown lawns into a source of pride, planting signs atop them with slogans like “Gold is the new green.” Even the lawn at the State Capitol has been allowed to die.
The challenge of persuading urban Californians to cut back is particularly difficult, said Ms. Marcus of the State Water Resources Control Board, because they do not see the fallow fields and dry reservoirs across the state.
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On his Twitter account, Sahand Mirzahossein posted a photo of a San Francisco city employee cleaning a sidewalk with a hose. Credit Sahand Mirzahossein
With water still flowing very cheaply from the taps and lawns still green here, many people around Los Angeles said they were not especially concerned about running out of water, whatever the dire warnings, and doubted their own showers or dishwashing would have any discernible effect.
“I might turn the faucet off when I’m brushing my teeth or something,” said Ragan Wallake, 34, a resident of the lush neighborhood of West Hollywood. “But I don’t feel like that three seconds of turning off the water is going to make a difference.”

She has a point. Most homes in Southern California have already been outfitted with efficient shower heads, toilets and garden hoses, making it harder for residents to significantly reduce their water consumption than it was during the last severe drought a quarter-century ago.
Even those who are already water-conscious can occasionally benefit from guilt-laden reminders, though.
Femke Oldham, a graduate student who has studied resource conservation at the University of California, Berkeley, was walking with her fiancé on a sunny weekend when they passed a few children throwing water balloons. She suggested it would be fun to get some of their own.
He shot back, “Femke, we’re in a drought.”
“It made me feel guilty for wanting to use water in a way that was not necessary,” said Ms. Oldham, 29.
Alina Weinstein, 27, a web developer in Los Angeles, has also been called out for small acts of water waste; one of her co-workers reprimanded her for letting the kitchen faucet run for just a moment after she had finished washing her cup.
She has since reformed. Still, she does not believe the city pipes will run dry anytime soon.
“I’m more afraid of earthquakes rather than water running out in my faucet,” she said.
Robert B. Gunnison contributed reporting from Sacramento.

 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/05/us/californians-keep-up-with-joneses-water-use.html?ref=earth&_r=0

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Youngster's business puts Earth first


Harbor View student Vanis Buckholz with his trailer full of recyclables he pulls on his bike. (Amy Senk, Daily Pilot / September 1, 2012)

Vanis Buckholz walks into the OASIS Senior Center, waving hello and being greeted like the regular he is.
But at 10 years old, Vanis' visit is strictly business.

As founder and president and head picker of the Re "Cycle" er recycling business, Vanis stops at the OASIS center several times each week, picking up plastic water bottles and loading them into a bicycle trailer he recently received as a birthday gift.

"I just think it's wonderful," said Celeste Jardine-Haug, director of the OASIS center. "There's not that many young people who think about doing this. We just love it. We think he's the most wonderful child."
Vanis was 7 years old and in second grade when he first learned about Earth Day at school. The business was born.

"They were challenged to make a difference in their own way, any small way," said his father, Dave Buckholz. "He said, 'Why not just recycle?' And I said, 'Fine, that's easy enough.' Then it went to the neighbors, then it went to friends, then it went to businesses."

In the beginning, Vanis would ride his scooter around his Flower Streets neighborhood, loading recyclable litter into a plastic shopping bag he hung over his handlebars. When he got a bike for his ninth birthday, he was able to cruise farther from home and collect more. The trailer allows him to go even farther, always wearing his protective safety vest as he cycles through his collection sites.

Neighbors and friends also drop off items in the back alley behind the Buckholz home, where Vanis keeps about a dozen big plastic and metal bins. He sorts items — glass, cans, plastics, metals — and at times, the items are stacked above his head.

Every few weeks, the Buckholz family drops a truckload of recyclables at OC Recycling in Santa Ana, where he earns between $100 and $200 a visit.

Vanis and his family track his expenses and income carefully, taking 25% to cover costs, such as garbage bags, containers, hand sanitizers and bungee cords.

"I give another 25% to Project Hope," Vanis said.

Project Hope Alliance is a nonprofit in Anaheim that helps homeless children. His mother, Evie Buckholz, said he has donated about $1,000 to the organization to date.

Vanis spends some of the money during family vacations or for treats, but most goes into a long-term savings.
"I'm saving for a sports car," he said.

Growing the business took a lot of courage, Vanis said.

When he first approached businesses, such as Bandera or the Place, to ask about collecting their recyclables, his parents waited outside while he went in, introduced himself and made his pitch.

Other accounts were pure luck. Bo Glover, executive director of the Newport Beach Environmental Nature Center, spotted him and asked what he was doing. Now the ENC is one of Vanis' clients.

"He's a very ambitious kid," Glover wrote in an email.

The business continued to grow, Vanis said.
"It just got bigger and bigger," he said.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Seeing red in 'green' panels

Newport Beach home's installation of 170 hillside solar panels has some nearby neighbors upset at their glare, appearance. A gigantic concentration of solar panels behind a house has become an eyesore for Bayside Drive residents in Newport Beach. (Ani Yessayan) By Sarah Peters May 29, 2010 E-mail Print Share Text Size To Stephen and Mashid Rizzone, nothing is more beautiful than preserving the planet for future generations. In about a month, the Rizzones will move into their new "green" home on the bluffs of Corona del Mar. The residence on Dolphin Terrace will be powered almost entirely by solar panels built on the hillside sloping behind it. Occupying about 3,000 square feet on their property, the panels are expected to cover between 80% and 90% of the their monthly utility bills, Stephen Rizzone said. "This is something that has evolved for us over the last five years as an outgrowth of having two kids," Rizzone said. "My wife and I asked ourselves what kind of legacy we were leaving and what kind of lessons we wanted to impart to our kids." Besides being energy-efficient, the home also meets stringent construction standards for environmental friendliness, and is undergoing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, Rizzone said. But the mammoth size of the Rizzones' "green" solar field, made up of 170 panels, has left some neighbors seeing red. "We all want to go green, but this is just too much," said Sheryl Perrin, who lives on Bayside Drive at the foot of the bluff below the Rizzones. "My kitchen windows look out directly onto that thing." Perrin and her husband have lived in the coastal neighborhood since 1998. The couple was dismayed when the natural landscaping of the bluffs was replaced with the man-made installation. "My husband said as a joke that he was going to put a giant mirror on our roof and beam the glare right back up at them," Perrin said. The city has received several similar complaints from neighbors about the panels' glare and appearance; however, federal guidelines do not allow a city to approve or deny construction permits based on cosmetic factors, Newport Beach Building Director Jay Elbettar said. "I just don't think it is in keeping with our community standards of what is acceptable," neighborhood resident Liz Kennedy said. "I think conservation is great, but I don't want to see the beauty of our community destroyed by no regulation on alternative energy sources." The homeowners association of the area attempted to prevent the Rizzones from installing the panels, but was advised against it by their attorney, said John Gessford, former board member of the Irvine Terrace association. "It went totally against our guidelines, but we didn't have the jurisdiction to say no," Gessford said. According to Rizzone, an agreement has since been worked out with the association. "Let's face it, looks are relative. I happen to think that it looks great," Rizzone said. "It's a mixed bag here … the vast number of people have been supportive, but some people will never be happy with change." However, to "soften the look," they plan to add flowering plants and trees around the project site and along the bluff, Rizzone said. Rizzone, who grew up in Orange County, said that he and his wife moved to Newport in 1995. "We love this area. The view is simply spectacular."

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