MOORLACH UPDATE — Thanksgiving — November 26, 2009

It’s a quiet day here at the County, thanks to the four-day weekend, but there are a few things to pass along.

The Daily Pilot’s “Top 103” can now be viewed at

Speaking of the Daily Pilot, Jim DeBoom’s annual Thanksgiving Turkey/Eagle award column mentions past recipients, which can be seen at

Here is the portion discussing the Eagle Award:

The Eagle Award was suggested by Geoff West in 2003 when he nominated Eric Bever, then a candidate for the Costa Mesa City Council. In 2004, the award went to the men and women of our Armed Forces who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 2005 award went to Donna and John Crean for their support of the Newport Beach Library at Mariners Park. The 2006 award was shared by restaurateur Dan Marcheano and Superior Court Judge Steve Bromberg for their support of the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines at Camp Pendleton. The 2007 award went to Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach for his ethics, and Gordon Bowley and the leaders of Costa Mesa United in 2008 for leadership for the new football stadium at Estancia High School and Olympic pool at Costa Mesa High School.

The 2009 Eagle Award is shared by two men who have held the same title this year — city manager of Newport Beach. The award goes to retired City Manager Homer Bludau, who set a standard for excellence in city operations and for his community involvement, and newly selected City Manager Dave Kiff, who moved up from being assistant city manager, for his continued excellence on behalf of the city.

The weekly Huntington Beach Independent included a column on the proposed interpretive center at Harriett Wieder Park.  This project is one to watch.  It is the first article below.  It does reference the California Coastal Commission, which is covered in today’s Long Beach Press Telegram (and syndicated around the state, making it to at least the Contra Costa Times), providing the choice preferred by environmental organizations for the open position, which is the second article.


Natural Perspectives:
Workshop garners public input on center

By Vic Leipzig And Lou Murray

So many exciting things were going on in the past week that we don’t have room to do them all justice.

Saturday Vic and I attended the first workshop to gather public input on the Bolsa Chica Conservancy’s proposed new education and restoration center. The meeting was hosted by the conservancy in a tent set up next to Harriett Wieder Regional Park on Seapoint Drive, the proposed site for the new center.

About 90 people attended the two public planning sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The meetings began with introductions of the various design team members, who were from ZGF Architects, Advanced Environment, Design Ecology, Main Street Design and Van Atta Associates.

They did not present design concepts at this stage, because the first step is getting input from interested parties on what they want the center to do, how they want it to function and what they want the project to accomplish.

To do that, we broke into focus groups, one group each for landscaping, building and site, community, sustainability and exhibits. After about 45 minutes of brainstorming ideas, each group selected a person to summarize the main ideas and concerns of each session.

The ideas will be collated and examined in depth by a committee, which Vic and I are pleased to be a part of. With nearly 30 years involvement in preservation and restoration of Bolsa Chica, we’re thrilled to see the idea of a permanent education and interpretive center moving forward.

While a number of people agreed that the site location on Seapoint was not ideal, it is the site that is available. Ideas differed on whether the building should be highly visible or hidden below grade, but people agreed that it should be a sustainable building. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council is a definite goal, with possibilities of a green roof, solar thermal and solar voltaic, passive heating and cooling, and water collection as other goals.

The use of only Southern California native plants in the landscape was widely agreed upon. A viewing platform and trails down to the wetlands below were among many other suggestions.

Some of the notables who attended were former Huntington Beach Mayors Peter Green and Connie Boardman, both biologists, as well as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, County Supervisor John Moorlach and Huntington Beach Mayor Keith Bohr. State Parks biologist David Pryor was in attendance as well as Amigos de Bolsa Chica President Dave Carlberg.

This project is not being planned in secret. If people want to be involved, they can contact the conservancy or just show up at the next public planning meeting, which will be in about a month.

Funding to the conservancy for this initial phase of planning came from donations from Sempra Energy Foundation, Griswold Foundation and Aera Energy. We can hardly wait to see what comes next.

In other exciting news, volunteers at Shipley Nature Center installed landscaping around their new recirculating stream Friday. Landscape architect Guy Stivers laid the plants out attractively, and installation was performed by Shipley’s groundskeeper, Derek Perez, and volunteers Mark Siemonsma of Siemonsma Landscaping and Jake “I killed my lawn” Hoffman.

As I watched them planting, a red-shouldered hawk cried from the oaks above, and a California towhee scratched away under shrubs in the demonstration garden.

The water rippled and burbled endlessly as it rushed from the top of the stream, down the rocky cascade to the bottom. As we mentioned in an earlier column, the water for the stream comes from a rain collection system under the eaves of the nature center. It is stored in an underground tank until needed for the stream.

The stream alone, with granite boulders and constantly tumbling water, is a real draw for humans and wildlife. Now, with plants, it’s even prettier. Some of the plants growing around the new stream are yellow-eyed and blue-eyed grasses, Douglas iris, coyote mint, yerba mansa, Catalina currant, hummingbird sage, Douglas mugwort, meadow rue and dancing tassels. Give those plants some time to mature, and the stream is going to be the scenic high point of Shipley Nature Center.

To the left of this column, is a story about the Bolsa Chica Land Trust garnering a $77,000 grant for mesa restoration work. Looks like their Terra Farms with solar and wind power are off and running, with help from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Game.

The project still needs approval from the California Coastal Commission. I just have to hope that someone notices that wind-generated power and a bird sanctuary don’t go together.

First we had the Glass Wall of Death, and now we have the Wind Turbines of Trouble threatening the birds of Bolsa Chica.

It’s always something.

I have one more bit of news to report. There have been so many other things to write about in our column lately that I haven’t had space to write about our vegetable garden and ongoing chicken saga. We did get our license from the city to keep chickens, but I’m still working on turning the coop into Cluckingham Palace. Wanting to document the process with photos and short essays, I started a blog. You can read it at, or Google “Lou Murray’s Green World.” So far I’ve had more than 400 visits from 12 countries, and I just started. Please stop by to see the latest news from the henhouse.

VIC LEIPZIG and LOU MURRAY are Huntington Beach residents and environmentalists. They can be reached at

Green groups back Schipske for panel

Environmentalists are lining up behind 5th District Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, the outspoken advocate of environmental causes.

They want her to be a new member of the state Coastal Commission and they are showering her with plenty of praise.

Consider, for example, a recent endorsement letter from Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust’s leadership to the state Senate Rules Committee, which is scheduled to make an appointment to the Coastal Commission.

"Ms. Schipske is a vocal advocate for wetlands protection and restoration but questions the fact that a recent business deal to acquire wetlands in exchange for city-owned property appears to have been made at the expense of Long Beach taxpayers," the letter declares, in reference to a land-swap deal Schipske opposes.

"Ms. Schipske has a proven record in Long Beach for brave and fair decisions on environmental issues," the letter adds, "and we believe that she would be a strong leader on the Coastal Commission."

Schipske’s environmental credentials, according to supporters, are based, in part, on her City Council positions: She voted against a Home Depot design center proposal near Los Cerritos wetlands, in a proposal legally challenged by environmentalists who eventually halted the project with a lawsuit; and she voted against a controversial land-swap deal that wetlands owner Tom Dean wants – a deal that faces considerable challenges from environmentalists.

Schipske and 2nd District Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal were put on a short list of nominees by Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe.

This week, after a session of interviews with the nominees, an ad hoc statewide environmental committee recommended Schipske and two others on the Knabe list – Santa Monica Mayor Pro Tem Pam O’Connor and Santa Monica Councilman Richard Bloom – to the Senate Rules Committee, according to Long Beach attorney Melvin Nutter, moderator for the ad-hoc committee.

Lowenthal could not be reached for comment.

Knabe’s nomination list also included Rancho Palos Verdes Councilman Doug Stern, Rolling Hills Estates Mayor Judy Mitchell, Manhattan Beach Councilman Richard Montgomery and Malibu City Councilman John Sibert.

Orange County – also part of the state Coastal Commission’s South Coast Regional District – nominated John M.W. Moorlach and Bill Campbell, of the second and third districts, respectively. Two mayors in Orange County are also contenders – Huntington Beach Mayor Keith Bohr and Laguna Beach Mayor Kelly Boyd.

Among the ad-hoc committee environmental organizations were Bolsa Chica Land Trust, Buena Vista Audubon, California Coastal Protection Network, California Coastkeeper Alliance, Coalition for a Safe Environment, California State Parks Foundation, Coastwalk California, Earth Alert, Endangered Habitats League, Environment Now, Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo County, Greenspace, League for Coastal Protection, Los Angeles Audubon, Malibu Coalition for Slow Growth, Monterey Coast Keeper, Natural Resources Defense Council, North Coast Rivers Alliance, Pacific Shorebird Alliance, Residents for Responsible Desalination, Southern California Watershed Alliance, Surfrider Foundation and Urban Wildlands Group, according to committee coordinator Jerry Meral.

"I’m really honored that they did that," Schipske said of the support from the environmentalists.

The contender added that Long Beach could benefit from an environmentalist sitting on the Coastal Commission board.

"It’s in a strategic location, and I would hope that it’s something taken into consideration," she said., 562-499-1274

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