Extremely costly regulation with no clear benefit? Bring it on

May 14, 2013

By Chris Reed

waterThis is saying a lot. But in my 23 years in California, no regulation has more clearly established the vapidity of how the state’s regulatory culture works than a new rule embraced by the San Diego Regional Water Quality Board.

My colleague at the U-T San Diego, business columnist and former editorial writer Dan McSwain, has done a superb job chronicling its insanity.

‘Faith-based policymaking’ yields idiotic policy

This is from McSwain’s Nov. 12 editorial:

“California’s latest experiment in faith-based policymaking is being unleashed today on the San Diego public, as regional water-quality officials begin hearings on new regulations that seem crafted to turn most owners of a car, house or dog into criminals within a decade or so. We wish we were exaggerating.

“Under the draft rules, ordinary homeowners may face six years in prison and fines of $100,000 a day if they are deemed serial offenders of such new crimes as allowing sprinklers to hit the pavement, washing a car in the driveway, or, conceivably, failing to pick up dog poop promptly from their own backyards, let alone the sidewalk.

“Cities throughout San Diego, south Orange and southwest Riverside counties must enforce the law, and set up 24-hour hot lines for people to report violations by their neighbors.

“The new regulations even apply to firefighters, who would be forced to somehow capture and scrub the water running down the street from fire hoses and burning buildings, although the bureaucrats promise wiggle room for ’emergency situations.’ We’re at a loss to imagine the fire that doesn’t present an emergency situation, but we’re sure California’s army of environmental lawyers will be glad to help cities figure that out in court.”

Pushing for a state cleaner than before it was colonized

This is from McSwain’s Sunday column:

“Last week, a state agency ordered dozens of local governments to spend whatever it takes to reduce the levels of bacteria, dirt and chemicals in the water that flows from storm drains into creeks and the ocean, when it rains and during dry weather.

“The ambition is noble, not to mention popular with Californians; everybody wants clean water. However, society has made such enormous gains in water quality over the last 40 years that further progress is becoming enormously expensive, with fewer prospects for helping the environment.

“As returns dwindle on our clean-water investments, the new rules imposed last week by the state’s San Diego Water Quality Board appear to be particularly unfortunate.

“Agency officials confirm that nobody knows the cost of their new stormwater rules. San Diego County estimates that just one of the standards, for animal bacteria in runoff, could cost $5.1 billion over 18 years.

“That’s the cost to local governments. It doesn’t begin to include the tab for businesses to scrub rainwater leaving parking lots with bird droppings. Or, eventually, fines to homeowners whose sprinklers hit the sidewalk, or who fail to promptly pick up after Fido, causing trace amounts of fecal bacteria to flow into gutters during a mild rainstorm.

“Meanwhile, scientists say they really don’t know whether the state’s new rules will substantially improve human health or the environment.

“At a hearing last week, an expert hired by the county showed that Mother Nature routinely violates the new standards in the Arroyo Sequit, a pristine watershed in the Santa Monica Mountains that represents San Diego before Juan Cabrillo sailed into the bay.”

Jerry Brown, live up to your rhetoric. Please.

This is beyond insane. Mother Nature isn’t clean enough for state regulators.

Jerry Brown, come on down. If you really loath stupid regulation as much as you say you do, here’s a hanging curve.


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  1. Bunker Queen
    Bunker Queen 14 May, 2013, 10:46

    Jerry Brown, come on down. If you really loath stupid regulation as much as you say you do, here’s a hanging curve.


    Jerry “I’ve got the unions in my pocket” Brown….? He’s as feeble as Abe Simpson.

    You’ll see nothing from him on this….I imagine someone “higher up” will offer a behind the scenes rebuke and this will quietly go away.

    Reply this comment
  2. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 15 May, 2013, 07:18

    Don’t lets forget about the 97 year old steelhead trout that are in the ocean waiting for the US Fish and Wildlife Administration to restore flow along the length of the San Luis Rey River.

    Or the vast swaths of private land that are now ‘critical habitat’ for any number of creatures (Fairy Shrimp, toads, etc.), critical habitat that ends at the ranch borders of county officials. Soon there will be signs in the backcountry saying:”Habitat-Administered by SANDAG” with the beloved swoosh logo.

    Environmentalism in California seems to have reached a frenzied religious crescendo, just as the baby boomers begin to seriously enter their dotage all those wild radical attitudes of the 60’s are coming back stronger than ever. The boomers completely sold out in the 80’s and 90’s, made their piles of cash (much of it in real estate development), and now they want to burn the economy down to the ground, complete the revolution, while they watch from safety.

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