Archive for May, 2012
Storm water mitigation has become one of the biggest costs to land development, and unfortunately, it is not fully understood by all developers. There simply is not enough space in one article to write about how untested the new permit requirements are, or how resources would be better used on a watershed focused scale, or even how infiltration adjacent to roads and buildings runs contrary to most basic engineering principles. In the foreseeable future, these regulations are going to continue to get more restrictive, and as each permit is introduced, property loses value and projects become more difficult, if not impossible, to pencil. Developers must evaluate the cost of storm water mitigation at the due diligence stage, which means working with an experienced civil engineer that can steer the project toward a cost-effective land plan.
Below are a couple of things that may be useful in considering the realm of storm water mitigation:
Aside from storm water treatment requirements, the current permit (and proposed 2014 permit) includes a mandate for hydromodification. Hydromodification is, essentially, the effect that small frequently occurring storms have on streams after natural terrain is developed. Roofs, sidewalks and roads increase the runoff amounts and durations, which over time, cause erosion and failure of streams. To mitigate this effect, the new permit mandates that projects be designed to mimic the pre-development condition. How is this accomplished? Ideally, low flows are held back and allowed to infiltrate into the ground. Sounds good in theory, but the fact is that most soil in San Diego does not want to infiltrate, so the question remains, how is this accomplished? The answer is that acreage will have to be sacrificed, tanks introduced, or some combination thereof.
The co-permittees have developed a regional “calculator” that engineers may use to size facilities. However, the calculator is overly conservative and inflexible and for projects over 1 – 2 acres it can result in oversized mitigation areas by as much as 50%.
Continuous Simulation Modeling is an approved alternative to the calculator in which a development is re-constructed in a computer model and approximately 30 years of rainfall data is simulated. This gives your civil engineer more ability to customize the project design and minimize the BMPs and/or tanks. While this may require additional consultation time, the cost savings in acreage and reduced infrastructure needs can be significant.
As mentioned above, a Continuous Simulation Model can reduce hydromodification impacts by up to 50% or more.
Solid Unit Paving Stones
Developers quickly jump to Solid Unit Paving Stones (pavers) as an “easy fix”. The effectiveness of pavers is largely misunderstood, and can lead to increased liability and higher costs, and result in little payoff. First and foremost, pavers are not regarded as storm water treatment. Runoff from pavers must still be treated in a BMP, but at a reduced rate when compared to asphalt paving. Approximately 32 square feet of AC paving will need to be replaced with pavers to reduce the treatment BMP area by 1 square foot – not a very good return on the investment. Now consider the real costs of pavers. Most geotechnical engineers will ask to add liners and sub-drains to eliminate lateral infiltration into adjacent soil (a pretty reasonable request considering the potential for structural failures), and the base section thickness is typically around 18″ – 24″ and consists of manufacturer’s specified open graded stone.
Additionally, a very important fact to consider is the liability associated with the use of pavers. If the contractor has any faults in installing the liner or sub-drain systems, the pavers will likely fail on most sites in San Diego. The base system must be installed water-tight. Pavers certainly do have their place in storm water mitigation, and can be a nice amenity to a site plan, but be sure to use them appropriately.
The take away here is that these storm water requirements must be taken seriously from the very beginning of project development, and consideration must be given to the real costs and benefits of mitigation. Identify storm water impacts early, take advantage of Continuous Simulation Modeling, and weigh the real costs of pavers.
- Aaron Parker, PE, Partner, SB&O Inc.
With one week to go before the June 5th primary election, candidates for a host of offices are pulling out all the stops in an effort to reach voters. Only the heartiest of mailboxes have been able to withstand the political deluge of campaign mailers from mayoral and council candidates and a fierce debate over the pros and cons of pension reform and project labor agreements.
The stakes are high in the City of San Diego as the local unions try to fend off a serious challenge to its pro labor council majority. Businessman Ray Ellis has gained significant traction in his effort to unseat first district incumbent, Sherry Lightner. In the 7th district businessman Scott Sherman is going up against union supported Mat Kostrinsky for the open council seat as current occupant Marti Emerald relocates to the new 9th district.
The race to succeed Jerry Sanders as San Diego Mayor has met the competitive expectations as Councilman Carl DeMaio continues to lead the pack of mayoral hopefuls, Bob Filner, Nathan Fletcher and Bonnie Dumanis. This one will undoubtedly go to a November runoff between the top two finishers.
Unions have their sights on the defeat of Proposition A which which would reign in their costly project labor agreements and despite labor’s best effort to block pension reform from the June ballot, voters will have the final say on the best way to fix the city’s pension system with Proposition B.
And for the first time in nearly two decades, there is an open seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. Steve Danon, Chief of Staff to Congressman Brian Bilbray and former policy advisor to Supervisor Dianne Jacob looks to replace the retiring Pam Slater-Price in the 3rd district. He is challenged by former Solana Beach Councilmember, Dave Roberts and Del Mar Mayor, Carl Hillard.
Thousands of voters have gotten a head start on casting ballots with the San Diego Registrar of Voters Office reporting that more than 138,000 mail in ballots have already been received ahead of the June 5th Election.
For more information on the building industry’s candidates of choice, please consult the BIA Voter Guide.
The County Board of Supervisors continued its stated pursuit to improve and streamline its land use process by voting to restructure its planning operations. Under the unanimously approved reorganization plan, the Department of Planning and Land Use will be renamed Planning and Development Services (PDS).
Some Public Works sectors will be blended into the new structure in an effort to improve communications and regulatory efficiency. All planning disciplines will be located in the same offices to improve coordination.
The Board also adopted a new citizens advisory committee that will evaluate the county’s land use process and report back to the Supervisors. The renewed emphasis on regulatory reform is a byproduct of the Red Tape Reduction Task Force that examined county operations and offered multiple recommendations to improve land use planning efficiency.
The BIA-PAC has released its Voter Guide which lists the endorsements for the June 5th Primary Election. The Voter Guide was created after of a year-long effort between the Political Communications Committee and the BIA-PAC and included countless candidate interviews and close examination of local ballot measures. The Voter Guide is prepared each election year as part of an ongoing industry effort to inform its members of the candidates and issues that will impact the economy and the industry. The BIA Podcast Series was also released and includes interviews with the leading candidates for San Diego City Council and the Board of Supervisors.
More information is available on the elections page of the BIA website.
What a spectacular morning this past Saturday was for BIA’s political efforts.
Last weekend members of Team Cornerstone and Team Fenton along with members of the BuildSD Pac and Y-Gen Council deployed 1,000 yard signs in support of Scott Sherman’s Campaign. Just think about it, at 9:30 am Saturday morning there were hardly any yard signs in the San Carlos/Del Cerro/Tierrasanta portions of District 7 demonstrating just how much support Scott had among is neighbors. By noon 1,000 of Scott neighbors were demonstrating their support and it was all due to the efforts of 59 BIA members and their family and friends who gave a few hours of their precious Saturday morning to help change San Diego for a decade to come.
Along with Ure Kretowicz and Mike Neal, BIA would like to THANK all of those who committed their time to make a change that will help not only the Building Industry but all businesses in San Diego.
This coming weekend BIA is committed to deploying yard signs for Carl DeMaio, but unfortunately the number of volunteers we have committed to this effort is far fewer than we need. Please if you can spare a few hours this weekend come help BIA help Carl . Let me know at Campaign2012@biasandiego.org
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