And a huge thanks to Kim and Michael Konte, Ayn Craciun, Bob Johnson, and Dr. Bruce Blumberg and Dr. Dean Baker of Non Toxic Irvine for their ongoing expertise and enormous investment of time in this effort. Their technical and practical experience and research makes it possible for our city to implement non-toxic practices citywide tomorrow if our city so decided — and they are the reason so many other cities already have. We couldn’t be where we are without them. www.nontoxicirvine.org
As described in our prior post, the staff report was rather sparse and did not include some of the exciting and positive developments coming out of Irvine’s citywide non-toxic program. Moreover, the agenda item did not include much opportunity for the council to act: all they could do was receive and file the staff report and give staff direction to bring a more specific proposal to expand the program in three months. (That’s exactly what council did in August, then in November staff bought an extra month, which brought us to tonight, where the only thing agendized was a non-action administrative item.)
After over 20 speakers at public comments on the non-toxic item alone, and after waiting through the consent calendar, Mayor Posey finally called our item. As the Council previously invited our scientists to speak, the Council saw a video presentation by Dr. Dean Baker, followed by a live presentation by Dr. Bruce Blumberg about his study of disruptors to the human body’s endocrine system. He explained that there is no genuine dispute that pesticides cause harm to people, and that there really are no serious safety studies done before they are put on the market. Council members were invited to ask questions but none did.
A slide from Dr. Blumberg’s presentation, courtesy Non Toxic Irvine, http://www.nontoxicirvine.org
Then Maintenance Operations Manager Denny Bacon gave the staff report to the council. Several council members asked good questions.
Jill asked whether staff couldn’t simply expand the project without council having to micromanage it. Denny responded that they needed council’s directive in order to spend more money on it. But he did want to expand the scope of the study to turf management because they had just visited Irvine last Friday and witnessed good results there.
Barbara wanted to know more about what Irvine is doing that could be replicated here, i.e., without having to reinvent the wheel?
Patrick followed up on the point in HBT’s letter that Irvine was seeing its cost-curve bending down. Staff responded that the cost of the organic chemicals was not declining yet. But Patrick followed up on the amount of chemicals needed as turf health improved. Staff confirmed that’s what Irvine was seeing. (Why didn’t staff say that in the first place??)
Patrick also asked why signage costs weren’t addressed in the staff report. Staff responded that they will start posting signs immediately for 72 hours after each spray.
Lyn followed up on a public comment about spraying happening while kids were playing and wanted to know if that was true. Staff said we use contractors and didn’t think they did that but will check. (Fact check: True. We have video.)
Erik moved to amend the “receive and file” motion to ask staff to return sooner than 90 days if possible.
The motion passed 7-0. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that we’ll have to do this again. No one can tell me why this was ever brought as a pilot program to begin with — Irvine, San Juan Capistrano, and Burbank, and Carlsbad I believe, weren’t so trepidatious. Nor can anyone explain why no action items are being agendized, leaving us with no actions except “receive and file” a report.
I want our council members to be cheered on for supporting the cause by their unanimous vote, but I must report that no one clapped: having to drag ourselves and our kids out for these long nights and with no end in sight is not particularly cheering for us.