Another voice has been added to a growing chorus that says Security National, owner of the polluted Eureka Balloon Track, is stonewalling the California Coastal Commission.
Followers of the controversy know that SN has, in recent months, turned 180° by waving the flag of the Regional Water Quality Control Board — as if the conservative banking class had suddenly embraced a system of regulation.
But it appears Water Quality Executive Officer Catherine Kuhlman won’t be played like that. In a letter to Security National henchman Randy Gans, she echoes other recent remarks about how SN is stonewalling the California Coastal Commission. Even better, Kuhlman isn’t offering a skirt for SN to hide behind in its lawsuit against the CCC.
The Coastal Commission has requested from you additional information as part of that appeal process. It is our understanding that you have not yet provided that information and have filed suit against the Coastal Commission, asserting, in part, that pursuant to Public Resources Code section 30412(b) the Coastal Commission does not have the authority to take any action that would conflict with the implementation the SIRAP. We disagree, however, that the Coastal Commission is taking any action that is in conflict with a determination by the Regional Water Board relating to water quality. Our concurrence with your SIRAP was conditioned upon your obtaining all required permits, including a coastal development permit, and was not intended to, nor do we believe it could, supplant the independent regulatory authority of the Coastal Commission or any other agency…
Our concurrence with your proposed SIRAP recognized that several of the activities you proposed required permits from other agencies, which you have not obtained.
Security National is owned by local big shot and failed banker Rob Arkley.
Download the full letter or read it here.
Observers of the Eureka Balloon Track are noticing heavy equipment rolling through the toxic mud to move Schmidbauer’s log deck.
Thanks to recent weeks of heavy rain the log trucks sink into the sludge and then disperse it down Broadway.
This stirring of downtown’s dioxin stew comes at a time when property owner Security National is stonewalling the Coastal Commission over the property, and Humboldt County residents debate the danger of moving toxins around the property before full characterization of the site.
The Citizens for Real Economic Growth are held a press conference this afternoon about what they call “stonewalling” by Security National/CUE VI to provide information to the California Costal Commission regarding the Balloon Track.
KHUM interviewed Neal Latt of CREG this morning, followed by Randy Gans of Security National.
Below is the CREG press release for the press conference:
Citizens for Real Economic Growth (CREG) was founded in 2005 as an grassroots educational endeavor to hold Union Pacific Railroad, then-owner of the Balloon Track property in Eureka, accountable for its legacy of intensive pollution of the property, and to advocate for an open process to determine the highest, best use of the site and then to help Eureka to proceed with that development.
Since that time, much has transpired in regard to the property. What has not changed is its condition: stagnation. The legal stage has evolved to the point at which certain information has been requested by the California Coastal Commission from the developer (CUE VI, a subsidiary of Security National), in order to proceed with the cleanup permit.
This information has not been yet been provided, and does not, to the best of our observations, appear to be forthcoming.
Today we call upon CUE VI and Security National to immediately provide the information requested of it by the Coastal Commission, so that a hearing on the cleanup permit may be held at the earliest possible time. Without this information, the Commission cannot make a decision, and the effort to achieve a cleanup of the Balloon Track cannot move ahead. When Security National bought the property in 2006, they knowingly and willingly assumed liability for doing the cleanup that Union Pacific and its predecessors had successfully avoided for decades. They made the purchase knowing that any proposed cleanup would have to comply with the Coastal Act – and importantly, they promised us they would do it.
Today we also call upon Virginia Bass and Jeff Leonard, and the alleged independent group “Citizens for a Better Eureka” to join us in demanding that CUE VI and Security National provide the information requested of it, so that the cleanup of the property may finally move forward. It is in no one’s interest for Security National to continue to withhold the necessary information and delay the process. Ms. Bass and Mr. Leonard, along with Frank Jager and Mike Jones, demanded a quick hearing by the Coastal Commission of the permit application in a press conference in this same location last December. If they are sincere in their expressed desire, they will join us to demand that the developer provide this necessary information to the Coastal Commission in the most expeditious manner possible.
Some of this requested information includes:
1) An Alternatives Analysis, to make the necessary findings that the proposed wetlands fill by the developer to control hazardous materials-entrained stormwater runoff on the site is the least environmentally damaging feasible alternative. This was requested because the Coastal Commission found that the City of Eureka’s approved Environmental Impact Report (EIR) “. . . provide(d) no substantive analysis of project alternatives that address other feasible options to the grading and filling of nearly 2/3 of the roughly 40-acre site that would achieve the same water quality objectives.”
2) A Hazardous Materials Contamination Assessment, which would provide “full characterization of the presence and extent of constituents of concern prior to approval of the Clark Slough wetland reserve component of the project.” As proposed by the developer, this component would entail extensive ground disturbance and “. . . the unearthing of heretofore subsurface material in an area that has been generally documented as contaminated with elevated levels of petroleum distillates, metals and polychlorinated dibenzo-dioxins and furans, and could result in exposing the aquatic resources within the slough and, in turn, Humboldt Bay, to toxics which could have deleterious impacts on the biological productivity of water quality of areas and species of special biological or economic significance . . .”
3) Property Interest Information. Questions have been raised in regard to the location of the boundaries between public and private ownership at the site, and whether portions of the site may be subject to public trust review by the State Lands Commission. To the best of our knowledge, CUE VI and Security National have not, as of yet, provided the requested information to the Commission, in regard to:
a) when the property was acquired, and from whom;
b) the purchase price;
c) a copy of any title report, litigation guarantee or similar document that might have been prepared in connection with all or a portion of the property;
d) the historic chain of title for all property, both on and adjacent to the site, held by the landowner in common contiguous ownership;
e) information to establish lot legality for all APNs both on and adjacent to the site, held by the landowner in common contiguous ownership;
f) the location of all wetlands located on site, as well as the location of all areas of soil and groundwater contamination.
In conclusion, the Balloon Track isn’t getting any cleaner. The dry season when the work might be performed is nearly upon us. We assert that it is hypocritical for CUE VI and Security National to complain about the Coastal Commission asserting jurisdiction over a permit that they themselves sought in the first place. By the same measure, the frivolous lawsuit brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation in this regard is (at best) a waste of time, and appears to be a mechanism for stalling further scrutiny by the Coastal Commission of a flawed and deficient EIR. It further delays the cleanup that all of our community clearly wants to see begun. We, the citizens of Eureka, demand an end to the apparent stonewalling of the Commission’s request for information from the project applicant. The Balloon Track, Humboldt Bay, and we, the citizens of Eureka cannot wait any longer for this cleanup to proceed.
Thank you for your time today.
US District Judge Jeffrey White ordered a new trial date in the lawsuit by Humboldt Baykeeper against Security National subsidiary CUE VI over clean-up of Eureka’s toxic Balloon Track. Trial is now set for August 30, 2010 rather than the quickly-approaching March 22nd.
The draft environmental impact report for the proposed Marina Center project is coming out Monday, nearly three years after the City Council gave Security National the go-ahead to apply for a zoning change at the Balloon Tract following two days of