Friday, July 06, 2007

Start your bellyachin'!

When I was a kid I was pretty good at finding things to whine about -- still am, I guess. My mom used to cheerfully intone, “Oh quit your bellyachin’!” But of course I couldn’t help but notice that if you didn’t partake of a little bellyachin’ every now and then, things that made you unhappy hardly ever got changed.

For the umpteenth morning in a row I have watched the big machines head out to a beach that is virtually seaweed and shell-free. I find this inexplicable and more than a little irritating. So today I flagged down the public works truck and asked why -- could they not see that there is in fact NOTHING TO RAKE?

Unsurprisingly enough, the operators have indeed noticed that. They are apparently under direct orders from the town staff to rake no matter what the condition of the beach. I was told that somebody complains if the rakes don’t go out. One can’t help but wonder who is this mysterious complainer that his/her desire for a zen-garden beach carries more weight than all the arguments against raking a clean beach?*

I suggest that it is time for us to complain about unnecessary raking. Loudly and repeatedly. Let’s see if a whole bunch of bellyachin’ will get their attention. I think we should start with Public Works Director Raul Morales ( -- a nice man who nods and smiles whenever members of the Beach & Dune Task Force talk to him about this -- and then cheerfully ignores our pointed requests.

*Do I need to list them again? Okay, here they are, in no particular order:
1. Waste of fuel
2. Needless release of exhaust fumes
3. Disruption of the peaceful, sunrise-over-the-gulf experience
4. Disturbance of habitat for the creatures who live along the shore
5. Disruption of morning beach activities of guests and residents trying to stay out of the way of the monster machines
6. Inadvertant collection of litter pushed into the dune toes where they will cause problems for nesting sea turtles
7. Disruption of natural dune-forming processes
8. Relocation of shells to places where kids building sandcastles will never ever find them

Update: I just added one of Nancy's photos that clearly shows how ineffective raking is as a means for filling in holes.

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Blogger Sam said...

I have no idea why they rake the beach when there's no seaweed, Sandy Feet. Perhaps they are just out of their freaking minds, and feel comfortable that way. The definition of insanity is to repeat the same unreasonable actions over and over again.

You forgot to mention that the beach rakes actually make erosion about twice as bad as it should be. That's the single and most important issue.

Unfortunately, town management only reacts to complainers who are very, very rich. This excludes little people like you and me. About the only way to stop the insanity is to sue the Town. That's unfortunate but I think the most realistic. They'll know we still like them personally, but they need to correct their bad habits without taking a personal insult.

I don't know if I have the time or money to do that, but I think I'm on solid ground here and would prevail in a court of law. /sammie

5:25 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

One place to "bellyache" is the city website's "complaint" form.

On Friday I wrote a complaint about the eye sore of a "sales office" in front of Isola Bella. I got the following response the same day: "As per Denny's Manager; Rubble will be cleared by Tuesday afternoon. Per Code Enforcement Supervisor Baldovinos."

Must say I was impressed with the prompt response. I think if enough people take advantage of the complaint form, city officials will be forced to justify their reasons for the unnecessary raking.

Worth a try. Go to the website and click on the umbrellas in the right hand column.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I posted the following complaint today on the town's website - this is the same day response I received. At least they are listening/responding, yet the "reasoning" for raking when there is nothing to rake is weak. I hope many will also send their complaints - one way get your voice into the public record.

*My Post:
What is the towns policy for raking the beach? On many occasions I have watched the tractors rake the beach when there is nothing to rake. This activity is proven to damage the dunes and encourage erosion. Please explain the logic of these unnecessary rakings.
*Department Public Works
*Problem Code Beach
Status Completed
Completion Date 7/9/2007
Citizen Feedback Per Ray Moya, Public Works Supervisor; During the summer months the beach is raked to cover up holes that people dig and to keep it level and groomed. The seaweed is deposited on the dunes to create a continuous dune line.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

Yes, it was nice of Ray to get back to you, unless you happened to be offended (as I am) by the steaming pile of BS he is dishing up here. First of all, raking is a HUGELY ineffective way of filling up holes -- Nancy has a whole bunch of pictures of gaping holes in a freshly raked beach that she shot just today. You want to fill up holes? You send a guy with a shovel out to do it. Furthermore, why fill up the holes in the morning when everyone can see them? If this is really the reason why they are raking, they should do so at night when beach walkers can't see the holes.

Secondly, no one here is complaining about seaweed being raked up and deposited on a dune restoration line. What we are complaining about is RAKING WHEN THERE IS NO SEAWEED ON THE BEACH.

C'mon, Ray! You can do better than _that!

8:18 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Thanks Must-Love for the effort, though. Your heart was in the right place. See what I mean? You have to "fire these people up" to make them stop their silly ways.

I really like Ray and don't want to see him int the cross-hairs of a war here. Public Works staff is spread real thin on a skimpy budget with a thousand complainers and not enough workers. What's he supposed to say? He'd get in big trouble if is was anything other than the party line.

Nope, let's not pick on harried staff, the problem is the BOA and the City Manager. Ultimately they are the ones that must answer to the public - not our friend Ray.

Ooohhh, how about an open records request for all grants, expenditures, and fuel use related to grooming the beach? Should be VERY insightful I should think.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The real point is that official complaints cannot (well should not) be ignored. The more voices, the more results. Not that this blog is not effective, it is - however, denial by "the powers that be" is easy if this is the only place this topic is discussed.

Again, complaints via the town website - like the answers or not - are reported to the BOA via committee reports and the more that question and complain the more the issues gets in front of the decision makers.

12:10 AM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

You are absolutely right, Must Love and I lodged my complaint there as well. Nancy and I also talked briefly with alderwomen JoAnn and Courtney at the B&D meeting yesterday and they said it has to come through B&D so we will be sure to get it on the agenda. (Seems like we did that already, but I guess it didn't "stick.")

6:52 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Weeeeeell, your last parenthetical remark gives me pause, Sandy. The B&D is really good at approving permits such as to flatten the dunes and build intrusive seawalls over the historical building line but hasn't really caught on to any useful programs as far as I can tell. Seems like every three months a BOA member is asking "but what about this and that we specifically asked?"

7:27 PM  
Blogger nancy said...

I asked an employee for "the real truth" of why they rake and his answer was to fill the holes so that people don't walk in them at night. So I ran and got my camera and took some pictures. I walked from Town Access 6 to Town Access 4 and I encountered a number of holes that the rakes just passed right over. Fortunately I did not fall in them but it was light out. Anyway if the goal of beach raking is to fill holes then they better find another method.

11:32 PM  
Blogger beachbumspi said...

I wonder how many of the alderman, town staff ever spend any time on our beach. We have so many people who make decisions that affect a beach that they never even see.

no seaweed - no raking

Lots of seaweed - don't rake it, yeah right, that will NEVER happen even though it's best for the beach. (It was wonderful a few months ago, the seaweed go so thick they couldn't rake it. It was left to naturally collect sand, decompose and build our shoreline.)

Over the past two weeks, there has been enough trash, ie: plastic bottles, cans, sand toys, etc. etc. pushed up into the dunes to fill a dump truck. Face it, raking is not to cover holes, it's to pick up the trash that our wonderful, caring visitors leave behind. Besides, we're paying these guys to run the tractors, gotta give 'em work to do.

It would take all of a couple of hours and a few warm bodies to comb the beach at daylight picking up trash.

Think about it, Department of Public Works - that's who is responsible for maintaining our beaches? Our most important commodity! Would it not make more sense to have a full time 'beach expert' overseeing our most important commodity than someone who specializes in street sweepers and sewer systems? Not to mention someone who will take the time each and every day to access the condition of this little 4 mile stretch of beach.
The town just hired a new employee who oversees the Wave, we have a new employee who oversees public relations (ie: sends out announcements about mosquitos and food borne illness and follows through will all of Taras new projects) but we can't hire a coastal expert to oversee our most valuable commodity.

I think twice a week, town staff, B&D members,aldermen, as well as this new beach funding committee, should have a meeting ON THE BEACH
so they can SEE what they are talking about.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

Must Love must be special - she got an immediate response to her officially posted comment -- I didn't get zip when I did the same.

Anyone else have anything to report along these lines? Are they being very selective on who they respond to or is is just me they are choosing to ignore?

12:27 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Nothin' special here - I think Nancy got an "immediate" response too. Did you type in your "request number" - I'm sure you did - can't figure out why they would ignore the one person on this island that has the guts to bring up issues that others choose to ignore. Must be an over site - or maybe, just maybe - so many people have written a complaint on the city's website about the raking that they are overwhelmed - more than likely not. Write 'em again Sandy, and give 'em what for.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:41 PM  

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