Prohibition rum runners and deadly shipwrecks: Pescadero’s Pigeon Point Lighthouse turns 150

Prohibition rum runners and deadly shipwrecks: Pescadero’s Pigeon Point Lighthouse turns 150

A lighthouse that has stood sentinel over San Mateo County’s rugged coast since the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant turned 150 on Nov. 15.

The 115-foot tall Pigeon Point Lighthouse in Pescadero — among the tallest lighthouses in the U.S. — has overseen some of the biggest commercial shifts in American life over the past century and a half, and the dangerous waters it watches over have pulled no shortage of mariners to their deaths. Today, it’s a historic site that attracts visitors from around the world who stay at the hostel on the property, but it’s also a landmark in need of repairs, which are finally on the way thanks to recent funding.

The dangerous history of Pigeon Point

The Pescadero area was originally a popular fishing spot for Ohlone people, but was later settled in the late 1800s by people from Italy, Portugal and the Azores, according to Don West and Joseph Kotchett in “The Coast that Time Forgot: The Complete Tour Guide to the San Mateo Coast.”

It took four shipwrecks along the same section of the treacherous San Mateo County coast in the years between 1853 and 1868 before the lighthouse was finally funded and built, according to “Shipwrecks, Scalawags, and Scavengers: The Storied Waters of Pigeon Point,” a 2007 book by maritime historian JoAnn Semones, a docent at Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park.

The first of those shipwrecks, on June 6, 1853, gave Pigeon Point its name. The clipper ship the Carrier Pigeon was on its maiden voyage from Boston to San Francisco and had traveled more than 15,000 miles after rounding Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America and heading back north again. But as it neared San Francisco along the San Mateo County coast, heavy fog and strong winds pulled the ship off course and the ship hit an outcropping of craggy rocks. A couple of people referring to the area afterward reportedly called it Carrier Pigeon Point but then shortened it to Pigeon Point, Semones wrote.

Another shipwreck, the Sir John Franklin, happened in 1865. Mysteriously, dozens of the barrels of spirits reportedly on board disappeared, while others that were recovered appeared to have been tampered with and replaced with saltwater — indicating thirsty Coastsiders may have had something to do with the disappearing liquor.

Two more shipwrecks happened at Pigeon Point in 1866 and 1868. The Coya and Hellespont were ships that carried coal from Australia. When the Coya crashed at Pigeon Point, all but three of its 29 passengers drowned. Then the Hellespont wrecked, killing 11, according to Semones.

After the Hellespont’s wreck, H.A. Scofield, editor of the San Mateo County Gazette, called on the maritime community to push government officials to make a lighthouse and a fog bell or whistle a reality at Pigeon Point.

“Pigeon Point is the most extensive promontory on the coast south of the Golden Gate, and the point seems especially adapted for a lighthouse. No other place on the Pacific Coast has proved so fatal to navigators as this locality,” he wrote at the time.

Getting a lighthouse built along the treacherous coast was also delayed by the Civil War, and by debates over whether the lighthouse should be installed at Pigeon Point or at Año Nuevo. In 1868, Congress set aside $90,000 for the project, and in 1871 a fog signal was installed at Pigeon Point. In 1872, the lighthouse was completed and first lit on Nov. 15 using a first-order Fresnel lens — which is made up of 1,008 prisms, stands 16 feet tall and weighs 2,000 pounds, according to California State Parks.

But the lighthouse and fog signal didn’t stop shipwrecks from happening, Semones wrote. Many more wrecks would follow in the decades to come. The J.W. Seaver wrecked at Año Nuevo Point in 1887, and the San Vicente, a steamer traveling to Santa Cruz from San Francisco and filled with holiday merchandise, wrecked Dec. 20 that year, killing 12.

Then there was the Colombia in 1896, which wrecked after the captain missed a fog signal. It became a tourist destination for visitors looking to pick up their own relics from a shipwreck. There was also the Point Arena, which hauled lumber up and down the West Coast and lost its mooring, crashing against the rocks. The wrecked steamer was ultimately burned for navigation safety. As one local put it, “It would just not have looked good to have a wrecked ship in front of a lighthouse.”

Pigeon Point’s role in the Prohibition era

By the end of World War I, shipping waned at Pigeon Point as it became cheaper to transport materials over land and it was closed as a port. But seafaring activity on the San Mateo County coast spiked again when Prohibition began in 1920. The caves of Pigeon Point in particular became a popular spot for rum runners to stash their goods.

When Prohibition started, the boundary of where international waters started was 3 miles offshore, so it became a popular way for coastal boat owners to make money. Rum runners would meet ships carrying alcohol from other countries, particularly whiskey from Mexico and Canada, to bring back to the coast for distribution. Enforcement got harsher after the “rum line” boundary shifted to 12 miles offshore in 1924 and the Coast Guard beefed up its personnel and boat count, Semones writes.

The Mygrants family that had lived at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse said that at one point, the rum runners were brazen enough to use the lighthouse property’s derrick for unloading their wares. And Jesse Mygrants, assistant lighthouse keeper, was once forced at gunpoint to drive rum runners down the coast.

In 1929, Pigeon Point had its worst shipwreck: the San Juan, a passenger steamer, collided with an oil tanker. Because of the fog, they didn’t see each other until it was too late, and the wreck killed 75 people.

Starting in World War I and continuing through World War II, Monterey’s Cannery Row rose to prominence and the city became the “sardine capital of the world.” Two sardine fishing boats from Monterey crashed into the rocks at Pigeon Point in 1932 and 1934. But by the early 1950s, overfishing had dried up much of the sardine supply, according to Semones.

A growing tourist destination

In 1960, the Coast Guard built several houses for Coast Guard families near the lighthouse that would eventually become what’s now the Pigeon Point hostel, said Jeff Parry, general manager of the hostel.

In the 1970s, then-Gov. Jerry Brown pushed for a chain of hostels along the California coast. While not many were built, some remain, including at the Montara Lighthouse, Fort Mason and Point Reyes, Parry said.

The hostel first opened in 1981, geared toward young people on a budget looking to travel and learn. Parry said that since he began working at the hostel in 1997, the tourism to the area has increased tenfold. When the pandemic hit, Hostels International, the nonprofit concessionaire that runs the hostel at Pigeon Point, was hit hard, losing about 80% of its staff. “It was pretty devastating to the whole organization,” Parry said.

The Pigeon Point hostel transitioned to a vacation rental model, allowing people to rent out each of the three buildings individually. It’s proven to be successful for now, and they plan to reopen the site as a hostel in the summer. Each building accommodates about 14 to 15 people. The site is also used midweek for the “Exploring New Horizons” program, a three-day, two-night science and environmental education program for fifth grade classes, he said.

The lighthouse was automated in 1972 and is still used for navigation by the Coast Guard. But the tower has fallen into disrepair.

The tower was closed in 2001 after a large metal piece fell off it, and it’s been off-limits to the public and deteriorating ever since, according to the Half Moon Bay Review. An $18 million state-funded project is now in the works to restore the tower. As of now, the money has been set aside and a lot of behind-the-scenes work has gone into readying the project to go out to bid, said Linda Hitchcock, senior park and recreation specialist and one of the people leading the tower restoration project.

Much of the funding will pay for restoring the tower’s top section, which had been subject to water damage and rot, according to the Half Moon Bay Review. The project is estimated to take at least 18 months and will involve reinforcing the interior with concrete beams and replacing the roof among other repairs, according to Peninsula Open Space Trust. The restoration work will begin after a contractor is selected. An advisory group is working on structuring public access once the project is complete, according to State Parks.

“To be realistic, we are probably still two years +/- away from the project’s completion,” said Janet Oulton in the Coastside State Parks Association’s most recent newsletter.

In the meantime, the park recently received a $10,000 grant from San Mateo County’s Measure K funds to create an online virtual tour of the lighthouse tower using a 3D model developed by CyArk. The goal is to complete the virtual tour in time for the anniversary, according to the State Parks website.

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Florida beaches were already running low on sand. Then Ian and Nicole hit.

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WILBUR-BY-THE-SEA, Fla. — In the days since Hurricane Nicole lashed this stretch of Florida coast with punishing winds and a powerful storm surge, contractor A.J. Rockwell has found himself on an urgent mission. He has to find sand — tons of it — and fast.

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Property owners in a picturesque beachside community just south of Daytona Beach hired him to buttress their homes with new sand after the Category 1 storm — the second cyclone to hit the state in the span of six weeks. Swimming pools, porches and even entire houses crashed into the ocean below when the sand beneath them eroded.

But these days the usual sources for sand — nearby underwater mounds and healthy beaches in other parts of the Sunshine State — are running low. What can be found is pricey. Rockwell estimates each house needs at least 275 dump truckloads pushed underneath to be saved — which at the current price of $1,200 a load comes out to $330,000 per home.

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His phone lights up constantly with messages from sources offering tips on where he can try to score some of the scarce good.

“Right now, it’s not even available, or it’s available in very limited quantities,” Rockwell said as he directed his crew working at a house standing precariously near a cliff.

Two weeks after Nicole, officials in hard-hit communities along Florida’s Atlantic coast say the dearth of sand has become an emergency. Nicole and Ian, which slammed into the western coast of Florida in late September, collectively snatched millions of cubic yards of sand from the coastline. In this section of Northeast Florida, local officials and residents are struggling to find sand to support oceanfront buildings and rebuild beaches.

The predicament underscores a vital problem for Florida: the state draws millions of visitors each year to its famous beaches, but successive storms, climate change, rising sea levels and a diminishing supply of sand means they are steadily dwindling in size.

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A state report published over the summer — before the two hurricanes hit — found that more than half of Florida’s sandy beaches are critically eroded.

“I think we’re starting to discover that, despite our best efforts and wanting to throw as much money at this as possible, it has become very difficult to keep these beaches as wide as we would like to keep them,” Robert S. Young, a geology professor at Western Carolina University and director of the Program for Developed Shorelines, which helps identify long-term solutions for imperiled coastlines. “We simply don’t have the capacity to hold all of these beaches in place.”

‘Running out of sand’

Environmentalists, beach residents, surfers and fishermen have been sounding the alarm about Florida’s eroding beaches for decades. Development is partly to blame. Sought-after oceanfront buildings take up space that might otherwise be home to protective sand dunes. Rising sea levels and stronger and more frequent hurricanes are also a factor. When a powerful storm hits, it can move sand inland, offshore or further up or down a coast.

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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection began compiling reports on critically eroded beaches in 1989. That year, the agency found a quarter of the state’s 825 miles of sandy shoreline was in danger. By 2022, that number had doubled.

To help remedy the issue, coastal Florida communities have spent millions dredging sand from the ocean or nearby inlets and using it to fill in eroded beaches. Yet that solution is increasingly difficult to employ as storms become more frequent and sand harder to find.

Flagler County officials spent $2 million to replace sand after hurricanes Matthew and Irma devastated Northeast Florida a half-decade ago. Then Hurricane Dorian struck in 2019 and pulled the sand they’d brought in back out to sea — undoing their work to preserve the beach.

“Florida’s east coast has really struggled over the last decade,” Young said. “There have been so many hurricanes, and even when the hurricanes don’t hit, they sort of zoom by and just take a lot of sand off the beaches of Northeast Florida.”

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Sand is usually dredged from the bottom of the ocean, but engineers and other experts say that source is close to being tapped out in many areas typically used off Florida. Decades of using offshore sand dug up from the Atlantic Ocean have deteriorated the supply. Much of what remains off the coast is too deep for dredges to reach — or could damage coral reefs.

Miami-Dade County is already using sand trucked in from inland sand mines to add to the coast, and Palm Beach County is considering bringing in sand on barges from the Bahamas. Importing sand would take an act of Congress, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R), along with Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D) from West Palm Beach, have proposed doing just that.

“For counties in Florida … this could provide a cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative to trucking in sand,” Rubio’s office said in announcing the legislation, which is dubbed the SAND Act and remains stalled in Congress. “It could also alleviate demand and extend the useful life of some offshore domestic sand sources, including those off the Treasure Coast.”

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For Young, it comes down to this: “They’re completely running out of sand to easily replenish these beaches.”

Undeterred homeowners

Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida on Sept. 28, bursting on shore with 150 mph winds, flooding streets and resulting in more than 100 deaths. It then barreled across the state — bringing heavy rains and obliterating beach restoration projects 300 miles away in Northeast Florida that were nearly complete.

The span of coast along the Atlantic famous for NASA shuttle launches and Daytona Beach — where historically there has been so much sand drivers are invited to ride on the shore — was still recovering from Ian when Nicole hit in November. It was only the second time in recorded history that Florida was hit with a November cyclone.

In a message to the public after the storm, Volusia County coastal division director Jessica Fentress called the impact to the northeast shoreline “nothing short of devastating.”

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“Right now, we do not have the beach that you remember from this summer,” she said.

The state and federal government approved temporary permits to allow property owners in Volusia and other counties hit by the two storms to bring in sand to shore up their homes. Gov. Ron DeSantis toured the area and promised local officials $20 million in emergency funding to move sand to damaged beaches.

Special permits to truck in sand restrict what type can be brought in to ensure it is environmentally compatible — an approval process that can take months. Some of those constraints were waived for emergency work to save homes and beaches, making it easier to bring in sand — if it can be found.

Within days of Nicole, Plinio Medina and his son were hard at work with contractors, including Rockwell, to find sand and push it under the house he owns in Wilbur-By-The-Sea. It was expensive, but like many here, the home isn’t just a place to live; it is also an investment. He usually rents the concrete block house with an ocean view to tourists for $499 a night.

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Now the yard is gone and there is no way to get to the beach below other than sliding down 30 feet.

“It used to be a beautiful beachfront property,” Medina said. “It had a nice yard facing the ocean. People enjoyed it so much.”

Flagler Beach town manager William Whitson said municipalities like his are in a similar conundrum — sand is costlier and harder to locate, but there is no choice but to rebuild.

His town of 5,300 residents just north of Daytona Beach depends on the nearly 1 million tourists who visit each year expecting wide, sandy beaches. Officials there located a sand deposit about 10 miles offshore that they planned to mine in a joint project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He said the price was high but that they’d have to pay.

“Mother Nature is unforgiving,” he said. “But we have a lot of smart coastal engineers, and if they’re listened to and the right recommendations are presented, then we’ll do much better.”

No easy solutions

Whitson and other local leaders in Northeast Florida say they need to devise ways to keep the beaches intact for the next 50 years, not just until the next hurricane. But experts say climate change and sea level rise make long-term solutions an almost impossible task.

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Lindsay Cross, the director of water and land policy for Florida Conservation Voters, said Florida’s beaches have historically been dynamic — losing and gaining sand over time through natural causes. But development on beaches requires stable ground that doesn’t shift.

Cross, who was recently elected to the Florida House of Representatives from St. Petersburg, said “a larger conversation” about how to protect beaches needs to happen, and that could involve “looking at managed relocation” for commercial and residential development in hazardous coastal areas.

“As a state, we’re used to investing in beach renourishment. Whether it’s the best investment in the long term is something to think about,” Cross (D) said. “It’s harder to find high-quality sand, you have fewer sources for it. There can be contaminated sand, or sand that isn’t the suitable grain size for Florida’s world class beaches.”

DeSantis established the state’s first Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection in 2019, soon after he was elected. The office studies and funds projects that protect shores and inland waterways. Environmentalists said it was a welcome change from his predecessor, former governor and now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott (R), whose administration prohibited researchers from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in documents and reports.

“We had a decade of missed opportunity with a governor and administration that didn’t consider climate change a threat, or even recognize climate change at all,” said Dawn Shirreffs, Florida Director for the Environmental Defense Fund.

The agency hasn’t completed a comprehensive state plan yet, however, and some environmentalists have criticized the office for focusing more on fixing issues like erosion than trying to prevent them.

The state went from spending almost nothing on resilience projects in 2013 to spending more than $500 million in 2021. But most of that money came from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, according to the Florida Conservation Voters budget tracker. This year, Florida is kicking in more money, budgeting $270 million for flooding and sea level resilience projects.

One immediate solution for the depleted sand supply is to dig for more of it in inlets and on land. But environmentalists have expressed concern that such mining could threaten the state’s underground aquifers, which provide drinking water for millions of Floridians.

Experts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say there is an ample supply of inland sand that is helping fill the need — but drawing from those sources is expensive. It’s also time-consuming to truck sand to the coast, and the dump trucks damage roads and communities they travel through.

The Army Corps is involved in greenlighting beach restoration projects and helping out once they get underway. Most projects require a new supply of sand every five to 10 years. Some engineers say that timeline is steadily speeding up as climate change alters weather patterns and the oceans.

“With sea level change, we might need to renourish those projects a little more often,” said Jason Engle, an engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville.

In Wilbur-By-The-Sea, Medina watched as his son Andy drove a bulldozer on a recent afternoon and scooped up piles of sand Rockwell trucked in for them. He then deposited it under the house.

The father and son are hopeful Volusia County beaches will be wide and welcoming once again, with the help of some human intervention.

“Sometimes, he wins,” Medina said, sweeping his arm toward the ocean. “And sometimes, I win.”

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Fury as water companies ‘allowed to mark own homework’ on beach sewage checks

Campaigners accused the Environment Agency of “actively weakening” environmental protections after reports claimed that its inspectors were relying on water companies’ assessments of sewage pollution incidents instead of visiting sites themselves.

Surfers Against Sewage said polluting water companies were effectively being allowed to “mark their own homework”.

Previously, officials in the Environment Agency (EA) would usually attend and investigate category 1 or 2 incidents – the most serious incidents of water pollution – in person after a member of the public reported incidents at swimming spots.

In August, the regulator issued supplementary guidance to its officers on classifying the seriousness of bathing water pollution incidents, weakening inspections rules, The Times reported.

According to the paper, officials have now been told that their usual presumption “that an impact has occurred” can be overturned if “appropriate information to demonstrate no impact has been provided by the water company.”

Members of the public and protesters from Hastings and St Leonards Clean Water Action, protest against raw sewage release incidents on the beach in St Leonards, Sussex. Picture date: Friday August 26, 2022. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Demonstrators from Hastings and St Leonards Clean Water Action protest in the summer against raw sewage release incidents on the beach in Sussex. (Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA)

A source at the agency, quoted in The Times, said: “It used to be: incident reported, someone from the EA on site, then contact the water company to see what they have to say about it. You’re now missing that ‘someone on site’.”

Amy Slack, head of campaigns and policy at Surfers Against Sewage, told i that this amounted to letting water companies “mark their own homework”, which she condemned as “frankly unbelievable”.

“In what world have these companies earnt the public’s trust when it comes to sewage pollution?” she said. “This is yet another example of the impact of the decimation of the now toothless Environment Agency and the kowtowing of the government to industry.”

The government was “actively weakening” environmental protections rather than strengthening them,” she added. “The public are sick of sewage and won’t allow the Government to sweep this issue under the carpet.”

Pollution warnings hit scores of beaches this summer, after sewage was pumped into swimming spots following heavy rains. After one downpour in August, pollution warnings were put in place at 40 beaches.

The Environment Agency maintains the guidance does not change how it classifies and assesses pollution incident reports.

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News of the guidance comes at the end of a year that has not only been marked by sewage dumps at beaches and rivers, but also when the outgoing chair of the EA, Emma Howard Boyd, called for jail time from the worst offending water companies and higher fines for “serious and deliberate” pollution incidents.

She said in June: “The water companies will only stop behaving like this if they are forced to. The amount a company can be fined for environmental crimes is unlimited, but fines currently handed down by the courts often amount to less than a chief executive’s salary.”

Regarding the guidance, an Environment Agency spokesperson said: “There has been no change to how we classify and assess pollution incident reports. We are promoting a precautionary approach which assumes a water quality impact has occurred unless proven otherwise, providing bathers with the best information on any risks associated with using affected bathing waters.”

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Beach sewage inspections to be scaled back

The Environment Agency has told its officials to cut back on inspections of bathing water pollution incidents and rely instead on water company assessments.

England has more than 400 designated bathing waters from beaches to lakes in the Cotswolds and The Serpentine river in London. However, some are regularly hit by sewage spills including those that have plagued the Isle of Wight, a Cornish cove and beaches along the southeast coast in recent weeks.

Despite rising public concern over the issue, the country’s environment regulator has privately issued guidance that weakens its inspection regime when people report pollution incidents.

One UN campaigner said the shift was “like asking an arsonist to assess fire damage” and a “hammer blow” to clean water efforts.

Previously, for the

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Latvia’s most- and least-polluted beaches named

Although this year’s results are generally not encouraging, they are still slightly better than the previous year’s results. In 2022, on average, 229 pieces of waste were found per 100 meters of the coast, while in 2021, on average, there were 266 waste units found. In general, the average amount of coastal waste in Latvia from 2011 to 2022 is 210 waste units per 100 meters.

In 2022, the biggest polluters are still various hard-to-identify plastic products, which make up 28% of all types of waste on the coast, followed by plastic bags on 8%.

This is followed by paper and cardboard, uncategorized waste items, cigarette butts, foam (insulation and packaging), plastic rope, metal, food waste and plastic bottle caps and corks. Together, these common types of waste make up 77% of the total amount of waste, and it should be noted that the six most popular types of waste are all plastic waste.

In 2020, an agreement was reached within the European Union: the situation on the coast can be considered good if the amount of waste on the coast does not exceed 20 units of waste per 100 meters. So the average pollution on the coast of Latvia is many higher than the target set by the EU. According to the obtained data, none of Latvia’s beaches meet the “Good marine environment” target set by the EU.

Photo: Mana jūra

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DA presses civil case against crab fisherman

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday announced it was prosecuting a commercial fisherman for illegally taking crab in a marine protected area off the coast between Pillar Point and Montara.

The DA’s Consumer and Environmental Unit on Monday filed a civil suit in San Mateo County Superior Court against George Jue, a registered commercial crab fisherman and operator of the fishing vessel known as “Take Time.”

The district attorney’s office alleges that on Jan 8, California Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens found five buoys belonging to Jue located inside the western boundary of the Montara State Marine Reserve. The wardens found 36 live Dungeness crabs inside the traps, the district attorney’s office said. The crabs were released into the water. The complaint alleges that Jue could face up to $2,500 for each crab taken.

The Montara reserve is one of 124 protected zones meant to conserve sensitive habitats and wildlife. It encompasses just over 11 square miles and covers 3.2 miles of coastline. In both the Montara reserve and neighboring Pillar Point State Marine Conservation Area, fishermen are prohibited from taking or hunting any animals, geological or cultural marine resource, unless for a scientific or permitted reason, the district attorney’s office said.

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County approves minimum wage for unincorporated areas

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a minimum wage of $16.50 per hour for unincorporated areas of the county effective April 1. The new ordinance will bring unincorporated areas in line with cities throughout the county such as Half Moon Bay that already have minimum wage laws in place.

The new law also requires an annual increase in the minimum wage beginning at the start of 2024. The increase will be equal to whichever is lower, 3.5 percent or the annual adjustment to the consumer price index for urban wage earners as determined by the U.S. Labor Department.

The new rules exempt employees of a business represented by a collective bargaining unit who work under a contract that predates or explicitly waives the county ordinance. Union workers typically receive compensation well above local minimums.

Cities such as Pacifica that have not established a minimum wage will remain subject to state rules. Beginning on Jan. 1, the California minimum wage will increase to $15.50 per hour for employees of all businesses. In Half Moon Bay the minimum will increase to $16.45 in 2023. Several other Bay Area cities also have minimum wage levels higher than the state. The Mountain View rate goes up to $18.15 at the start of the year.

Local business owners who spoke to the Review did not express concern about the pending increase.

Mike Wagner, owner of Seville Tapas in Pillar Point Harbor, said that if he paid minimum wage no one would be working for him. “I’m paying people $20 and $25 and still have trouble getting enough staff to cover the hours,” he said.

Chaunda Smith, owner of Ocean View Café in Montara, also pays her staff well above the minimum. She has only one employee but said that having a reliable person who can come in when needed is worth the extra pay.

Speaking in support of the measure that he introduced with Supervisor Dave Pine, Board President Don Horsley emphasized the impact the new minimum wage could have on farmworkers. Horsley reminded the public of the vital role farm labor plays in bringing food to our tables and spoke about the heroic efforts of farmworkers during the pandemic and wildfires over the past several years.

At $1 above the state minimum any workers impacted by the new rule could receive about $2,000 more in 2023 than they would have without the law. Rita Mancera, executive director of Puente, described the increase as a step in the right direction but said she still thinks it’s not enough.

Despite the new wage levels, low-wage workers in the county still face challenges due to the cost of housing and inflation. According to a living wage calculator developed by Professor Amy Glasmeier at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology a single adult with no children would need to earn $31.80 per hour working full time to support him- or herself in San Mateo County. 

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53 tons of trash pulled off of Papahānaumokuākea’s reefs and beaches

53 tons of trash pulled off of Papahānaumokuākea’s reefs and beaches

A recent expedition pulled 53 tons of fishing gear and plastic out of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

The Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project makes a 30-day journey to the archipelago twice a year.

They focus on pulling out ghost nets that present entanglement hazards. The trash is pulled and cut by hand to preserve the surrounding environment as much as possible.

Most of the trash was found towards the end of the archipelago around Manawai (Pearl & Hermes Atoll), Hōlanikū (Kure Atoll) and Kuaihelani (Midway Atoll).

Manawai collects the most debris with its 20 mile wide lagoon.

“Here’s this amazing part of Hawaiʻi, Papahānaumokuākea, and it’s a place that not enough people know about,” Kevin O’Brien, the founder of the project, said.

“It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s a national monument, it’s super important culturally in so many Native Hawaiian cultural narratives, it’s a wildlife refuge.”

The trash collected by PMDP is currently disposed at a Schnitzer Steel power plant.

“It’s the kind of place where you go and it feels like you’re stepping back in time where animals have never seen a human. So here’s this place, and marine debris is specifically one of these issues that we can actually do something about,” O’Brien told HPR.

O’Brien is currently talking with the state Department of Transportation to recycle the collected trash into asphalt. The partnership will begin next year.

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Sounds of Summer to perform Beach Boys Christmas show at North Vernon’s Park Theatre

Sounds of Summer to perform Beach Boys Christmas show at North Vernon’s Park Theatre

Nov. 24—NORTH VERNON — Good vibrations are coming to the Park Theatre Civic Centre, just in time to bring extra holiday cheer.

Sounds of Summer will perform their Beach Boys Christmas show at 7 p.m. Saturday, December 10. Tickets are $20.

One of the world’s greatest tribute bands as featured on AXS TV, Sounds of Summer has made an impressive mark with crowd-pleasing concerts featuring iconic, spot-on Beach Boys tunes.

The band includes four talented North Vernon-based vocalists and musicians: David Ertel on keyboards, Connor Ertel on guitar, Eric Wernke on drums and Matt Hurley on bass.

Their music is an uncanny reproduction of the “Pet Sounds” created by Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys in the 1960s and later. Authentic look and melodies make a Sounds of Summer concert like a trip to a California beach on a sunny day highlighted by timeless rock ‘n’ roll surf music.

From “California Girls” to “Surfer Girl,” from “Fun Fun, Fun!” to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” from “I Get Around” to “Surfin’ USA,” it will be nonstop “Good Vibrations” when Sounds of Summer is on the Park Theatre stage for the first time since 2018. Fitting for the season, the group will also perform Beach Boy covers of Christmas songs.

“This will be a really good show as always,” Patti Yount, chair of the nonprofit Park Theatre board of directors, said. “Sounds of Summer has performed several sell-out concerts at the Park, and it’s no secret why they are so popular. The surf will definitely be up again on this night, and we recommend people get their tickets soon so they avoid a ‘wipeout.'”

Tickets are available in advance at the Park Theatre box office and will also be sold at the door on the night of the concert.

The box office is open 2 to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

For more information, call 812-346-0330. — Information provided

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ARTS AND CULTURE: Switchfoot bringing holiday cheer – The Tribune

ARTS AND CULTURE: Switchfoot bringing holiday cheer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 22, 2022

California band to perform at PAC

Switchfoot will be bringing their Christmas act to the Paramount Arts Center on Dec. 3.

Aptly entitled “This Our Christmas Tour,” the Grammy-winning band is on tour to support their album “This Is Our Christmas Album,” which features holiday songs they wrote, such as “California Christmas,” “Looking for Christmas,” “Scrappy Little Christmas Tree,” “Midlife Christmas” and “New Year’s Day” and holiday songs they didn’t write such as “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” “Christmas Time is Here,” “The Christmas Song” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

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“Christmas is an emotional treasure chest for a songwriter to pull from,” said lead singer Jon Foreman. “It’s a season stretched tight with contradictions: celebrating the free gifts of love and grace with an outburst of materialist capitalist consumption. An emotional roller coaster of family and friends, hopes and scars — bringing out the worst and the best in all of us.”

The band describes their holiday sound as “California surf-rock holiday cheer.”

The band says their West Coast sound was inspired by bands ranging from The Beach Boys to Black Flag and describes their albums as “the California Christmas album you never knew you needed.”

Switchfoot started in 1996 in San Diego, California, which is well known for being a surf town and they have been involved in surfing all their lives.

The band’s name comes from the surfing term for switching your foot stance opposite of your natural stance on a surfboard.

Switchfoot consists of Foreman (vocals, guitar), Tim Foreman (bass), Jerome Fontamillas (keys, guitar) and Chad Butler (drums).

The band came to prominence after four of their songs were featured in the movie, “A Walk To Remember.” After the success of the movie, Switchfoot went on to put out 12 albums and sell 10 million copies worldwide and capture a Grammy for their 2009 album “Hello Hurricane.”

They have sold five million concert tickets and have performed in over 40 countries.

Switchfoot has raised over $2 million dollars to aid kids in their community through their BRO-AM Foundation.

It is dedicated to giving back to the San Diego community by heightening the profile of and providing grants to nonprofit organizations that provide services to homeless, at-risk and disadvantaged youth, with a special focus on programs related to music, art and surfing.

For ticket prices and more information, go to www.paramountartscenter.com.

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