Reading Time: 6 minutes

Certain areas around my property were years ago chosen by my [then] puppy for her normal bodily functions so I am cognizant of where cautious walking is prudent. The normal routine calls for immediate yard work if new areas have been utilized for this function because it signals over-capacity of the traditional “poop field”. Dog sitting for someone else obviously changes the normal procedure since any place is subject to such contributions because the new animal is unaware of our normal “business areas”.


There should be no expectation that an animal placed in a new environment would instinctively know that the corner over by the big Oaks is the accepted repository for “number two” donations or that rock cleared trails were not specifically created for that purpose or convenience. Given sufficient time such information will be learned through repetition along with corrective action for any of the more egregious violations and fortunately, in this situation, no “in house accidents” have occurred as of this posting.


Only once thus far have I been required to scrape and hose off the soles of my boots due to accidently “Stepping in it” and that clean-up was only necessitated because I was headed into the house and did not want to track up the floors with the obnoxious material. Had I been continuing work outdoors I would have probably just allowed it to naturally wear off during the course of my travels around the property with a quick check to confirm its absence before entering the house.


Seriously, it’s not like a canine has the ability to take a solemn oath to not “doo doo” in certain places around the property before being admitted to the premises. They cannot “raise a paw” and repeat after me……”I, [bark your name], do solemnly swear or affirm that I will not relieve myself near the garage door, deck steps, around motor vehicles, …..” We take them as we find them and begin what will usually, and hopefully, be a long term relationship of mutual love and companionship.


When it’s time to get some rest but my head is full of thoughts and musings of the day’s activities, I often drift off to sleep with some program on the television. The television shut off timer is a fantastic option to prevent awakening to loud commercials at 0300hrs in the morning. The two biggest problems for me with this particular method of sleep induction: 1) waking up in the morning with a sore neck from too many pillows under my head, and 2), leaving my eye glasses on. I’m not sure, but I think this last pair of glasses has passed the previous record for not incurring scratches or nicks on the lenses.


Wednesday morning at approximately 0350 hrs, I pulled on the covers while rolling over in bed and vaguely recalled hearing something hit the floor. I knew it wasn’t the television remote control because I’ve heard that fairly loud noise many times. I was drifting back to sleep when three thoughts almost simultaneously woke me up: 1) the noise was likely my eye glasses hitting the floor, 2) the visiting dog sleeps on the floor on that side of the bed, and 3) she has a propensity for chewing!


Got up, turned on a light and started searching for the glasses which naturally signaled my sleeping canine roommates that it was time to start a new day. Searching for glasses without your glasses is an interesting dilemma in itself but when combined with the time limitation caused by two dogs dancing around because they need to go outside for their morning ritual made a quick successful search imperative. Found the glasses, got the dogs outside without incident but the commotion summoned the cat to the back door and she was now impatiently meowing for an early breakfast. Needless to say, after all this going back to sleep was not an option so the day started early.


Had I ignored the sound of something hitting the floor; didn’t appreciate the probability that my glasses had fallen; failed to remember there was a “chewing machine” in the immediate area; and simply drifted back to sleep, whose fault would it have been if the glasses were indeed chewed up and/or destroyed?

The facts of the situation, clues to what had happened, reasoning, probability analysis, along with a personal commitment to protecting fairly expensive eye glasses from damage, all played a role in starting the day early.


Why bother to take the time to mention this stupid little “doggie story”?

Answer: Because it simply illustrates how a foreseeable negative outcome can be avoided by preemptively taking action based on known facts.

What does it have to do with Lake Don Pedro?

Answer: The far majority of LDPCSD customers essentially have no idea what is happening within a public agency they financially support which severely limits the probability of being able to detect and avoid foreseeable negative outcomes.


One of the water publications I read regularly mentioned some time ago that the worst possible thing a water agency could do would be to only contact their customers when raising their rates – yet this is exactly what the LDPCSD has done, and will likely continue to do, without re-establishing “THE PIPELINE” publication. Think about that for a moment. Shouldn’t a ratepayer at least have the opportunity to be informed as to how their money is being spent and why?

The ONLY REASON customers are notified now about rate increases is because such notification and opportunity to respond is REQUIRED BY LAW. Sure, there are laws requiring factual reporting of public business, which is generally provided at mandatory board meetings, but if the customer never receives the information what good is the reporting process …. I mean other than dotting the “I’s” and crossing the “T’s” of government regulations?


The permitted service area under our water license is the Lake Don Pedro subdivision and golf course.

The subdivision is governed by the Lake Don Pedro Owners’ Association. The LDPOA is required to furnish members with their mandatory corporation disclosures so the DISCOVERER is sent to members all over the country. Out of area owners of unimproved subdivision property pay “water availability fees” with their property taxes and therefore financially contribute to the district. Doesn’t it make sense that the LDPOA DISCOVERER would be the perfect vehicle for the Lake Don Pedro Community Services District to furnish district information to its scattered customers as well?

During a time when both private and public entities are looking to save money and be more efficient, doesn’t dual use of an existing publication sound reasonable?

Since two Directors on the LDPOA Board routinely attend LDPCSD Board meetings wouldn’t they be excellent candidates for assisting in putting such a dual use program together? The LDPCSD could create a minimal publication that could be inserted into the DISCOVERER and reach 99+% of their customer base at the same time the LDPOA is contacting their property owners with their mandatory corporation disclosures. Why is this concept resisted?


I have asked myself that question for years (usually when disgusted or frustrated with what goes on here) but received another unambiguous affirmative answer during the Public Comment portion of Monday’s Board Meeting [December 19th, 2011]. A citizen of Mariposa County, whose name and property ownership had been linked to some serious questions regarding multiple water meter installations on an adjacent single property, happened across postings on this website which contained her name. This “meter matter” was initially presented by two CSD directors last January (a third former director also supplied a partial map of the questioned area) who asserted that a woman by the name of Donna Morasci-Martin owed money to another land owner for a pipe extension yet had refused to pay the debt for almost two decades. Those assertions, along with some others, were unequivocally contradicted by Ms. Morasci herself.

Although factually reporting on what others had to say about this matter (supported with audio tapes of those meetings), I would never-the-less like to offer a public apology to Donna Morasci-Martin for posting that incorrect information along with any theorizing on my part. [How our CSD actually became involved in this matter also appears to have been largely based on that same incorrect information presented to a past board some twenty years ago.] I have had a number of questions regarding this matter since the beginning and the information Ms. Morasci furnished last Monday provided important missing pieces to this confusing puzzle. Her words of “fraud” and “cover-up” appear warranted.


I will follow up on this story after the holidays because there is much information to go through and organize (including four audio cassette tapes of meetings on December 19th), but for now, suffice it to say it is absolutely shameful how information was intentionally misrepresented and another person’s name and reputation was sacrificed in the process. Differing opinions and/or perspectives are desirable and useful in any decision making process but intentional fabrication of the truth should never be permitted, especially in the public sector.

When a public official “steps in it” through misrepresentation of the truth, they track up not only their own personal floor of integrity, but more importantly, the base reputation of the public agency they supposedly serve.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

My best to you and yours, Lew

Categories: Uncategorized.


Reading Time: 2 minutes

Just wanted to take a couple of minutes to say “hey” and take a break from reading the LDPCSD Board Packet  in preparation for Monday’s meetings.   [177 page 10am Special Meeting along with some other Closed Session material and 126 pages for the 10am Regular Meeting.]


During a reading break I was walking around with the dogs when I spied one of my “regular Owls” quietly sleeping and digesting his night’s work.  [Never ceases to amaze me how many mice, voles, gophers, etc. these Owls snag.]


My 30+ year old Mitred Conure “Zack” seems to have stablized on his journey from whatever happened to him (likely some kind of a stroke) to his normal cranky deameanor.  He still cannot fly and is much slower when getting around (who isn’t?), but seems to have regained much of his strength since his bite has returned to quite a painful “pinch” just shy of breaking the skin.  His appetite seems more than adequate but he continues to sleep more and more every day frequently caught in a mid-afternoon nap with his bill hung on the mirror for balancing support on the perch (below).


Surprising that this is the same parrot I found in the avairy on this back with legs straight up in the air over a year ago.

Yup, poor old Zack has adjusted to indoor life again and despite his life changing episode, still has plenty of attitude.   Here (above photo) he is apparently asking for some “finger food”.  lol

My best to you and yours, Lew

Categories: Uncategorized.


Reading Time: 3 minutes


Whoa! That’s something you don’t want to see in place of your website homepage but that’s exactly what hundreds of visitors observed on this site Friday December 9th, 2011 beginning at 1824hrs and lasting through the weekend. Shortly after I discovered the disturbing message telephone calls and emails started coming in….”What’s happened Lew?” “I don’t know” was my computer illiterate response.
I knew it had nothing to do with billing since I pay in advance. Posted material wasn’t of concern. What remained was that nagging ever present fear of third party intrusion by others. Monday morning it was confirmed, my site had been “hacked” and someone tried to enter malicious content which prompted the hosting server “defense software” to simply shut everything down to prevent further intrusion.
Actually it’s pretty cool when you think about how fast such a defensive response occurs. The only problem I had with the whole procedure was how the term “suspended” might be misinterpreted [or intentionally portrayed by some] as indicating the site administrator (yours truly) had done something inappropriate – heck I even researched my receipts to make absolutely sure I was paid up in advance. LOL
Considering the fact government entities, major corporations, and about any computer system you can imagine has been hacked at one time or another I guess it was only a matter of time before I experienced such frustration. Fortunately, other than inconvenience and some worry, no harm was done.
Oh yeah, fixing leaks before the rainy season. Looks like most, if not all, of the precipitation anticipated in this vicinity will actually occur a little further South so my withholding irrigation water idea didn’t work out too well. Since meticulously watching my water meter I was curious about how routine water use adds up towards the next month’s bill.
Ever wonder what a toilet flush looks like on a water meter? Check it out:
[Equipment and dog whining in background – non meter related! lol]
The math appears to be correct since the water supply must not only fill the tank but the volume of the flushed bowl as well. If a tank dispenses 1.6 gallons per flush and the bowl is designed to hold the same, two times 1.6 gallons equals 3.2 gallons. The meter read approximately .44 of 1 cubic foot of water (7.48 gallons), so .44 times 7.48 = 3.29 gallons which needed to be replaced. (Float adjustment will affect how much water is immediately replaced in the tank, a higher float will mean more water in the tank.) A while back one of my neighbors showed me one of those new pressure assisted flush toilets. Amazing, lifting off the tank cover revealed equipment similar to something under the hood of a high performance sports car! Some models even have a 1.1 gallon option for liquid flushing only.
You can imagine how a water meter dial must spin during bathing, laundry and other routine water uses … especially maintenance of landscaping. Although I enjoy the lower bills due to reduced irrigation during the “wet season” I receive too much pleasure from the trees, bushes, flowers and resulting wildlife to complain, however, reasonable methods of conservation will always be considered.
I discovered a new resident inside my meter box this morning: the wired module that will allow LDPCSD employees to read meters remotely while driving by the location. Imagine the amount of time that will be saved without having to stop a vehicle at each box, exiting and approaching, removing the meter box lid, reading and recording the meter readout, replacing the box lid, returning to the vehicle only to start the whole process over at the next property. Think of the potential dangers that are eliminated with climbing up embankments, down into ravines and indigenous wildlife.
My best to you and yours, Lew
Categories: Uncategorized.


Reading Time: 6 minutes

A few months ago I received a very high water bill that ultimately caused me to take a serious look at my aging water system. Occasionally I will forget to turn off one of a number of irrigation valves and understand a slightly higher consumption use for the next billing period but looking back through past bills for the same months in previous years revealed a regular consumption increase that I could not explain. Ahhhh, the quest begins.


A neighbor was kind enough to stop by and advise he noticed some of my sprinklers had been running for quite a while and water was trickling down the roadway easement ditch. Naturally, that particular line of sprinklers were fairly isolated, rarely used, and the normal water line pressure had not been reduced for drip line/emitter irrigation. (Leaving “drip lines” on by accident will only create a slight increase.) I could not have intentionally chosen the worst possible valve to have left open. Duh!

After thanking my neighbor and running over to the valve I almost immediately remembered turning it on the past weekend just as some guests were arriving and in the commotion of greeting them failed to turn off the valve. Two and a half days those ^%$#*!+ high pressure sprinklers were on. I had already routed normal run off to the benefit of planted trees but as I followed this “metered creek” downhill the fact that most of the excess water was only nourishing weeds I would eventually have to cut next Spring was quite obvious. The waste of water was disappointing. That was the highest water bill ever received in over 20 years and was the catalyst for the above cartoon. Live and learn.


Yup, this is something you certainly don’t want to find in your mailbox, but it sure is a wakeup call. This was the second time I recalled receiving an LDPCSD “COURTESY CARD” and for those of you fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with the notice, here’s the message:

“As a courtesy, we are sending you notice that an increase in water usage was noted during meter reading. Your meter was read on ____________, indicating water consumption of ___________ units compared with ______ units last month.

If you are aware of increased irrigation or other usage, disregard this notice.

If not, please investigate for possible water leaks or other malfunctions. If you find a problem please repair it or contact a plumber for the required repairs.

If you require further assistance, please contact our office at (209) 852-2331 Monday – Friday 7:30am to 4:00pm.

Thank you, Customer service”


I was curious about the discovered underlying increase of water consumption so I started documenting the days, time and meter readings before and after irrigating. Fortunately, when I initially started plumbing the property 20 years ago (and had the strength to dig all those trenches in this rocky soil) I installed two primary supply valves for irrigation; one west and downhill, the other east and downhill. Below these main valves are some secondary shut off valves along with several “Drip Line valves” which provide water to certain irrigating areas.

Through a process of elimination (closing secondary valves from downhill to uphill) I found even though ALL VALVES WERE CLOSED BELOW THE TWO PRIMARY SUPPLY VALVES – IF THE PRIMARIES WERE OPEN WATER WAS STILL VERY SLOWLY PASSING THROUGH THE METER – every second, minute, hour, day and week of the month! I have only temporarily solved the problem by keeping the primary supply valves shut for the winter and will eventually have to locate from where the water is escaping, but for now the waste has ceased. I know of one “in-ground” secondary valve that leaks and do not look forward to digging it up next year for replacement since I’ve already tried repacking the seal which obviously didn’t work.


Currently the LDPCSD is replacing older meters (which are likely under-reporting actual water consumption) with newer models with drive-by electronic reading capabilities in addition to other desirable features. When my old meter stopped working years ago I received one of these new meters and must admit to noticing an immediate increase in my consumption rate which leads me to believe older meters do indeed start to under-read after time. [Documentation of this fact has been contained in previous Board Packets.] Many customers do not want a new meter and I can empathize with their concern but, in all fairness, they are likely under paying for what they actually use which is unfair to those that do. The loss of revenue by several hundred under-reading meters decreases the CSD’s revenue and over time could represent a significant loss, besides, we have the meters and they are useless unless working.


Due to the differences in models currently used in our water system it is impossible to determine what type of meter a customer is using and therefore what type of “leak indicator” is incorporated in that model. The first photograph is of an older model and I assume that “sprocket wheel” probably turned with the passage of water. The second photograph depicts one of the newer AMR (Automatic Meter Reading) meters currently being installed and that small white triangle in the center will turn when water passes through the meter. [I believe my old meter had a red triangle.] Naturally the long red needle will spin around the numbered dial with water consumption and the total amount is recorded on the digital counter. The faster the water rushes through the meter – the faster the triangle and dial will spin racking up a higher number of units used.

The LDPCSD measures water usage in CCF units (Centum Cubic Feet or 100 cubic feet) [1 cubic foot of water = 7.48 gallons, therefore, 100 cubic feet = 748 gallons or 1 CCF ]

I was talking with Randy Gilgo the other day and he relayed how some customers couldn’t believe their leak indicator was turning very slowly until me made an ink mark on the meter glass cover. After talking with the customer for a while the movement was obvious.


Some friends of mine recently commented they too had received a yellow “Courtesy Card” and could not understand how in light of there being no changes to their normal water use. Having already experienced my own leak investigation, we started with the “leak indicator” on the meter. Yes, it was turning. We shut off the supply valve to the residence to rule out any leaks in or around the house (hose bibs) but the indicator was still turning. We confirmed all irrigation valves were off and not leaking, but the triangle still turned. Then the serious inspection started – looking for any indication of dampness around pipes and valves. [This is why I brought up this subject now because soon it will be the rainy season and locating such “wet spots” will be impossible.]

Sure enough – after digging around some above ground pipes water saturated ground was revealed. The excavated hole quickly filled with water. We shut off the main water supply line at the meter box and emptied the hole of water and cleaned around the pipes and fittings. While one person turned the water back on at the meter box another watched the pipes in the hole for signs of leakage. Sure enough water was now spraying with the dirt removed. SHUT OFF THE WATER! lol

Now in this particular case the news was very good because there was no damaged pipe or broken fittings but rather, the connection was coming apart due to the water pressure in the pipe. Evidently, decades ago when the pipe lines were installed, a single coupling had been assembled in a manifold (numerous pipes and valves connected together in one area) with only the purple primer pre-treatment being applied and no pipe cement for a permanent connection. I’ve observed this very situation happen a couple of times but the “pressure test” revealed the problem prior to filling the trenches and burying the mistake underground and out of sight. [Of course, maybe the primer held for the test before filling?]


Laying out a complicated manifold can get confusing with the two chemical applications (primer and cement) to every connection in addition to the hurried time required to correctly assemble the manifold as the cement sets up – one component fitting can easily be overlooked. [There are now one application glues/cements.] Yup, sure was good news. We simply cleaned the two fittings and cemented them back together and thus far the leak indicator remains still. [Don’t forget to flush the line by opening a water faucet to expel sand, gravel or excess glue when the water is turned back on.]


The above leak would have been very difficult to locate and repair if the surrounding ground was already wet from rain. A leak that cannot be stopped without shutting off the supply to the house will continue without intervention and could get much worse. Unless you are prepared to go outside and turn on the meter valve every time you want to flush a toilet, take a shower, brush your teeth, wash the dog, etc., and then turn it off again, that leak is going to waste water and cost you more money.

My best to you and yours, Lew

Categories: Uncategorized.


Reading Time: 8 minutes


Although the number of “on scene survivors” and their accounts of what happened that day are rapidly dwindling, December 7th, 1941 irrevocably changed the lives of countless millions of people and will likely remain one of the foremost examples of the horrendous cost of war.




Mom was a teenager and quite cognizant of the realities of World War II and kept a scrap book of news articles, reports and photographs. One of her brothers was a Marine engaged in front line combat and still carries shrapnel in his neck from a near death experience on an island beach. Another one of her brothers served on the Navy destroyer USS Missouri also in the Pacific. Numerous friends were spread across the globe in other areas of turmoil in addition to Europe. As a young girl in California she lived with the ever present danger of potential invasion on the west coast. During the Summer from high school she helped out at the mud baths, hot springs, and mineral pools in Calistoga (Napa Valley) where injured soldiers were treated for their wounds and amputations (evidently the heat assisted in healing and extracting imbeded shrapnel). Her future husband, my Father, had enlisted in the Army Air Corps and ultimately became a bomber pilot in the Air Force also serving in the Pacific. Dad made a 33 year career in the US Air Force as did my brother who served over 20 years.




Most of my adolescent life was spent on or very near military bases providing the opportunity of meeting many different people involved with various aspects of national defense in both military and civilian capacities. During the cold war era (Cuba situation) Mom was actually required to drive my brother and I on an escape route from Castle Air Force base up here into the foothills under the theory of avoiding potential radiation exposure if Castle were hit with a nuclear weapon. I currently look down at the old Castle air base remembering Dad shooting “touch and goes” in a KC-135 (Air refueling 4 engine jet aircraft) from the Fox Road vantage point at the end of the runway – even saw my brother decades later land and take off in a T-38 (jet training aircraft- he was a flight instructor like Dad and eventually ended up piloting the C-141 Star Lifter cargo aircraft which was later replaced with the C-17.) I vividly recall visiting and playing outside with other kids at “alert facilities” near base runways during different holidays when Dad was on alert.


A friend and co-worker of my Dad’s in Grand Forks North Dakota was a POW in Europe and relayed to me his stories of being transported by railroad car through numerous cities and towns in route to his ultimate confinement. His description of brutal situations soften with accounts of compassion displayed by indigenous people remain in my memories. Woodworking became this man’s personal relaxation hobby technique and I still possess a handmade cabinet he created in his garage 45 years ago and the thought of refinishing it is unconscionable. The scratches and scrapes only document it’s history of travel and are as important to me as the furniture itself.


I remember the noise of B-52 engines roaring outside our base housing only indicated to me that another episode of Gun Smoke with James Arness as Marshall Matt Dillion was about to begin.


Sure is interesting how the “old shows” could tell a gripping story within an hour – often culminating in a bloodless fatal shooting, but still be quite dramatic. Remember those? The victim would grasp their chest with one or both hands, make a quick parting comment, then collapse without even the slightest evidence of blood loss – yet now, gallons of blood and remnants of internal organs are Hollywood splattered across a wall just to illustrate the reality of a violent death.


While living in Taiwan for two years we could see the C-130s and other aircraft taking off to, and returning from, in-country missions to Vietnam and heard the stories of near misses by surface to air missiles and harrowing landings in remote areas. That was indeed a lifetime ago and although the type of warfare was different from today’s “war on terrorism”, all of it is destructive, horrific, and painful to those even remotely involved.


In light of the recent discoveries of possible habitable planets in space and man’s violent past, it begs the question: will humans eventually end up in some kind of war with another species like on Sci-Fi afternoon television shows? I’d be willing to bet money, marbles, or chalk that a malicious deep space enemy sure would unite humanity on this little rotating and revolving blue marble in space. Nothing like a common foe to put things in perspective – huh?


Sorry, I digress. I guess this is the sort of stuff that belongs in a private journal so suffice it to say today marks yet another day of remembrance to those who made the ultimate sacrifice at Pearl.




The initial meeting opened at 0905hrs with a full board consisting of Vice President Bill Kinsella and Directors Emery Ross, Mark Skoien, Victor Afanasiev and yours truly. Interim General Manager Dan Tynan and Board Secretary/Treasurer/Financial Administrator Charise Reeves were also present. The meeting jumped from Public to Closed Session during the continuing Personnel Grievance process initiated by the Board Secretary/Treasurer/Financial Administrator against the Interim General Manager. Again, with the sincere hope of a satisfactory resolution to this matter (both parties have agreed to meet with a mediator) I will not get into the literal “she said” – “he said” particulars of the situation.




There should be no surprise when the difficulties between Board members enable/produce an environment for similar problems with Staff and other employees. The concept of rotating the general manager’s position within a large organization with hundreds or thousands of “staff qualified” employees makes some sense considering the “cross training” approach, however, the proposed plan to do so at the LDPCSD where there are only six (6) full time employees [half of which might be interested in the GM position] was, in MY OPINION, extremely damaging to this district on a number of levels.


Such a suggestion does not occur within a vacuum devoid of consequences and I believe this is precisely what our CSD is now experiencing … the negative ramifications of an ill-conceived proposal. (Whether the resulting turmoil was intended or not is for the public to decide. Insecurity in any position is not desirable and can greatly increase the probability of a manipulative influence. The former Mariposa County Grand Jury certainly did not embrace the concept and ultimately suggested the director proposing such rotation resign as president of the board.)




What motivates people to do the things they do? Are their actions reasonable based on the currently known fact patterns or are there surreptitious ulterior motives? This is where trust in representation is crucial.


Obviously the extent of monetary compensation received for an individual’s work is of great interest to any employee. Those fortunate enough to actually enjoy their work may indeed place greater emphasis on their personal satisfaction in doing a job well but I suspicion most everyone would prefer to earn as much as possible if given the opportunity. But there’s the rub. If someone is tantalized with the prospect of greater reward and responsibility in obtaining a higher position such a proposed opportunity could distract from the duties for which they are already employed and compensated. Add to this the uncertainty and frustration caused to the employee who is currently charged with the sought after duties (and compensation) and a stage is set for an unnecessary adversarial and competitive relationship rather than that of mutual co-operation.


This produces serious collateral damage to other employees and district business at hand. Rather than collaborative work by all employees focused on the efficient execution of district business – an environment of distrust and suspicion is created. Co-operation and mutual support for the primary job is replaced with at best, apathy and/or indifference and at worst, disruption and/or intentional sabotage of another’s work.




Without knowledge of all the facts (Closed Session information is confidential and not to be disseminated) it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the public to appreciate exactly what has been going on within our CSD. I believe particular pieces of information acquired in CLOSED SESSION would in short order clear up much of the confusion on both sides, but that is not possible at this time.


Personally I believe both parties are essentially victims of a ludicrous idea whose foreseeable negative consequences were clearly evident.




Although the last meeting went quite well (with the exception of the Ranchito Well Study – a preliminary capacity report – see below) I can’t help but believe the presence of an observing mediator (suggested by the previous Grand Jury) and members of the current Grand Jury, [in addition to the Vice President’s clearing of the meeting room a few meetings back because of another planned disruption], undoubtedly played a major role in the resulting civility. Be that as it may, it was pleasant and should continue. You know, as residents and “investors” in this community we probably have more in common than either side is willing to recognize. Perhaps by conscientiously avoiding “trigger issues” of the past our meetings will focus on more current district issues?




I have a “post-it” above my computer monitor that reads: “Keep it positive and upbeat” but holding to such a positive affirmation is quite difficult at times. Occasionally friends and acquaintances from the valley will ask if I am still pleased with my foothill property purchased over 20 years ago and to be quite honest the answer might vary a bit depending upon recent activity up here. Lake Don Pedro politics are not enjoyable but the beautiful foothill environment usually trumps that downer. Perhaps the question is actually moot because much like the Roach Motel you can check in but cannot check out without a substantial loss of hard work and money – but that’s probably true anywhere nowadays. I firmly believe Lake Don Pedro will eventually be recognized as a great place to live and a good investment for the future, however, the past ideas of “fast money” probably won’t materialize again for quite some time. I guess it all depends upon what a person values the most, a home or lucrative financial investment.


A while back I was visiting some friends up here when a Hawk decided to take a break on their deck railing. Although the photograph was taken from inside the picture window it still came out pretty clear. Check out that predator look after I tapped on the glass!





Yup, there is so much to appreciate in these foothills if you take the time to observe and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else…. now if we could just do something about the counter-productive politics! lol




Unfortunately, the Engineer’s report concerning the question of the Ranchito Well production capacity [included in last meeting’s Board Packet furnished to the public] appears to support the uneasiness of those (including myself) who believe the continued expansion of service from that source could have some serious financial ramifications. The LDPCSD is a surface water treatment plant but if “ground water substitution for surface water transfer” is something to be considered – all rate paying customers should have a say in establishing that policy because it could get extremely expensive. Only a few months ago there were those that strenuously advocated expansion of such water service to properties outside the Merced Irrigation District Place of Use requirements under Water License 11395 – imagine where we would be now had that taken place?






Sure it would be wonderful to provide water to any property whose owner wanted it but as a former LDPCSD President recently commented, our CSD should refrain from providing services that are not required by law. Not required is one thing, not authorized is another. Still, just about anything is possible with the support of the majority of customers who would be willing to fund such a project.




Apparently, a well is being drilled at the corner of HWY 132 and Bonds Flat Road where some potential commercial businesses might be located in the near future. Hopefully the drilling was successful and the well will provide adequate water for that development under the theory fair competition benefits everyone.





My best to you and yours, Lew


Categories: Uncategorized.


Reading Time: 2 minutes

Difficult to believe it is December already – sure seems time moves faster the older one gets. Two days ago marked the one year anniversary since taking the Oath of Office to be a director on our LDPCSD Board of Directors. Although many good improvements have occurred already others are “in the pipeline” and will just take time.

I read an interesting article recently by a gentleman who spent 30 years in the public sector in Sacramento who commented that even when constituents overwhelmingly support a particular project or plan, due to the time constraints involved with legal requirements, regulations and procedures, governmental change often moves quite slowly. Certainly frustrating to both the public and those elected to represent their interests.


My Aunt once said “when you take a look at everyone else’s problems, aren’t you glad you only have your own?” Boy! Isn’t that the truth! This morning, just after 1030hrs, while standing in a checkout line at Staples in Merced I noticed a number of shoppers moving
towards the large windows at the front of the building and overheard someone
say there was a car fire in the parking lot.   Sure enough when exiting, there it was.
Fortunately I don’t believe anyone was injured but what rotten luck just
before Christmas (not that any time would necessarily be much better).

Again, sorry about the quality of the video clip but that’s the best I can do right now. A “zoom shot” was all I was prepared to risk since there were a number of loud “POPS” just before the fire flared up. I was afraid the fuel tank might explode but that’s probably more of a Hollywood type thing since I’ve witnessed several vehicles burn to the hubs without exploding, but why take a chance right? – Besides, it’s best to stay out of the way of emergency personnel while they do their work.

CAR FIRE IN MERCED CA PARKING LOT:     http://youtu.be/xJuZX-yJqVA

My Best to you and yours, Lew

Categories: Uncategorized.


Reading Time: 1


(Left to right)   Ganymede, Europa [the planet JUPITER center], Io and Callisto.

The photograph was shot with a digital camera held close to the telescope lens so  left/right is reversed from the actual position in the sky.    Taken around 2000hrs in the Eastern sky.



My best to you and yours, Lew

PS:  The last LDPCSD meeting went very well and we’ll get to some of the highlights later, but for now, hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Categories: Uncategorized.

OCT 21st 2011 FINALLY OVER (never thought it would end)

Reading Time: 10 minutes

OCT 21st 2011 FINALLY OVER (never thought it would end)

You will “recall” the last bit of transcript was a beginning question by me. Let’s pick it up from:

Director Richardson: “Then why won’t the county….”

Verbatim transcript in blue font based on analog and/or digital recording of meeting.

The meeting continues:

Harry Alfier: (inaudible)…..can use that as my …. (Inaudible)

TUMMOTA: (inaudible) …right now. He has got to speak, and you’ve got to listen. This is not fair…

Harry Alfier: and you just shouted me down Lew, I mean, let’s just tell the truth you see to be the purveyor of the truth, I wish, I really wish you were you could do some good. Just like you’re talking about Kathy I have it memorized what you said on there about Kathy cutting corners and there again I wonder if this is the something about, basically insinuating that Kathy doesn’t hand known disclosures.

Director Richardson: No

Harry Alfier: that’s exactly what you said

Multiple voices

Director Richardson: I said, I said real estate

Harry Alfier: Real estate disclosures, well that’s what her business is real estate, so is mine. And I can pull every contract for the last thirty-five years that says buyer has received copies of CC&Rs, Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation and the most recent financial statement by law we need to provide them. We, we don’t ever, who would not want to hand out a known disclosure or CC&Rs to someone when they buy property? So to insinuate otherwise is, is far as I’m concerned, is being a liar, and it’s been attacking people’s character, again Kathy stood up here and, and, and had a legitimate grievance with the district regarding the $3,000 hookup fee, that I think you’re going to find is illegal, and the next thing you know she’s on your blog being accused of being an illegal, unethical realtor and that’s just horse pucky. And if you can’t agree with that, that’s your M.O. that’s what you do.

Director Richardson: I never said that

[I have never lied and do indeed tell the truth. This bothers Mr. Alfier tremendously because his own distortions of truth are created and meant to explain away his self-serving activities which are quite obvious. Again Harry Alfier accuses me of lying and states he “memorized” what I wrote but cannot recite the same. He then interprets what he recalled I wrote, stated what I was basically insinuating, then determined as far as he was concerned, I was a liar. Nothing like an objective point of view. LOL

The “cutting corners” comment by Kathy Agee, who works with Mr. Alfier, has already been addressed.

QUESTION: Who would not want to hand out a known disclosure or CC&Rs to someone when they buy property?

ANSWER: Likely unethical real estate agents and/or brokers who put sales above California Department of Real Estate legal requirements for property transfers.

I seriously doubt simply checking off a list of miscellaneous 40 year old documents is all that is required. What about disclosures regarding things that have happened in the last 40 years? You know, I can’t find anything on recognizing hundreds and hundreds of nonexclusive easements in any of our governing documents…. Oh yeah! They were filed AFTER THE FINAL SUBDIVISION MAP.

Gosh, as a real estate broker extremely familiar with this area Harry Alfier must have been aware of many items a prospective buyer would be interested – like the designated high fire severity zone, the school situation (didn’t you have a problem where you failed to explain such to a family with children and had to “re-negotiate the sale” and “compromise” to the buyer’s benefit?), do you explain what outside MIDPOU means to property sales outside the subdivision and/or water service district, etc.? One of your advertisements state: “Golf course and country club are soon to be opening and will be state of the art.” What year were these photographs taken and the information posted? Is this up to date or misleading?


The Department of Real Estate “Disclosures in Real Property Transactions” pamphlet stated: “A copy of the governing documents of the development, including any operating rules and a copy of the association’s articles of incorporation, ….”

Hmmm, including operating rules huh?


Here’s what Harry Alfier stated at the April 19th, 2009 Lake Don Pedro Owners’ Association Board Meeting regarding the Trifold which was a 17 year old subdivision operating rules pamphlet (included grading and earth work incidentally) that had been upheld in both Tuolumne and Mariposa County Superior Courts:

“I was hoping I could bring in the paper that Mr. Kinsella and some other people keep referring to, the Tri-fold, that we need to be enforcing the Tri-fold of the CC&Rs, and I’ve been here a long time and I’m not sure what the Tri-fold is, and I was hoping that somebody, maybe the board, could explain what exactly the Tri-fold….they were, keep referring to.”

Excerpt from blog posting on June 8th, 2009 entitled “Absentees have always been the key”, subtitle: Real Estate/Land Developers Do Not Like Rules”.

Still even more interesting is the fact some people say Harry Alfier did in fact provide the Trifold to them when they purchased property through LAKE DON PEDRO REALTY. If that’s true…. How could you hand out a document used in the sale of property yet not know what it is called?]

Harry Alfier: And people come in an and disagree with you they’re attacked on your blog of being dishonest realtors, ah, I mean you you went so low on poor Mr. Porter as as to try to tie the man in some how you found some link on his website to his golf course for child porn and you were trying to tie the guy into child porn, it doesn’t get much lower than that Lew. SO I’m done.

Director Richardson: There were 160 pages of pornography on his website but I never said Tom Porter did that

Harry Alfier: OK do you honestly think that Porter was

Director Richardson: I just said, I never said he did that

Harry Alfier:  Well if you insinuate something, what do you expect people to think?  That’s pretty low, I don’t think you’d want someone insinuating that about your father.  So anyway I’m going to sit down, just try to tell the truth.

-[Complaints about pointing out illogical, rude or foolish behavior of those who disrupt business meetings with subject matter outside the jurisdiction of the board wouldn’t occur at all if the SO GOSIP limited their discussions to meeting material.

The SO GOSIP purposefully disturbed meetings by digging their hands deep down into moist steaming piles of false accusations and personal attacks. They ball them up into semi-clumps of verbal projectile weapons then throw them at anyone with the courage to stand up to their special interest platform of deceit. When challenged on this website they retreat and share stories of what others say I write because most admit to not reading for themselves. Then they manage the audacity to whine about how I accurately describe just how filthy their miserable little hands have become.


Harry Alfier once again demonstrates extremely poor taste in bringing up such a subject during a CSD business meeting and wrongfully attributes to me an insinuation that was never spoken, written or implied. That is all on Mr. Harry Alfier.

First of all, my point back then, as well as now, is represented with a question: why would a corporation solicit customer feed-back with no intention of receiving and responding? That’s more negligence or apathy than active participation. Heck, any one of a number terrorist organizations could have been operating through that website but discovery of such wouldn’t indicate that Thomas Porter was a terrorist, only that his corporation did a lousy job of monitoring its website which would have uncovered the unlawful activity. I never thought for a moment Mr. Porter would allow such despicable material to remain on his golf course website, therefore he could not have known about such. But someone did.

Secondly, Alfier by bringing up this particular topic now has also displayed an amazing lack of rudimentary compassion for a fellow business associate with whom he shares an advertisement. Despite county newspaper coverage of some recent local arrests, purportedly involving multiple unlawful relations with extremely young minors, I have never posted any of that information, much less links to the newspaper articles, even though a similar situation occurred years ago with a member of that same family. No names, details, criminal complaint information, nothing. I left it alone.

Some might argue it was wrong of me not to post publically available material regarding the details under the theory of alerting residents to potential risk. Ultimately I concluded this website had an extremely limited circulation to residents compared to the Foothill Express newspaper and if that publisher/editor did not feel a responsibility or necessity to report to our community, why should I, theoretically, report it to the world?

Here’s what I wrote on November 11th and December 5th, 2009 about the pornography discovered on the Deerwood Corporation website.

Director Emery Ross: Bill?

VP Kinsella: Yeah?

Director Emery Ross: (laughing) Sir

VP Kinsella: Ah you..

Director Ross: (laughing) Ah me, Sir (to TUMMOTA), my name is Emery Ross, please look at Lakedonpedro.org I’m so discouraged on this board what he writes about me.

TUMMOTA: [The Unidentified Male Member Of The Audience]: I’ve been reading his blogs

Director Emery Ross: I am really frustrated, I am his latest victim. I, everybody out there, these are victims in here.

TUMMOTA: Excuse me, this would not be the time to discuss this with me,

Director Emery Ross: Ok, just wanted you to see it though because these other people said it

[Director Emery Ross is frustrated? He is a victim? Good Heavens. Look in a mirror. The better part of eleven months of potential Board work has been obstructed and wasted due to some highly unusual behavior and activities by particular directors. I am not going to waste any more time on these particular directors or their activities because much of that has already been documented and I believe changes in the board configuration due to the recent appointment of Mr. Victor Afanasiev is going to help tremendously. Thanks for the advertisement anyway Emery, why not put it in your next “Pandering in Pedro” article? That’s LAKEDONPEDRO.ORG.

So TUMMOTA doesn’t think the meeting he just interrupted isn’t the right time to speak with him? OK, when would be the right time to discuss some things with you TUMMOTA? Come to think of it, what is your name and where do you work actually? Apparently you are not with the State Attorney General’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, or Sheriff’s Office….humm, quite peculiar. With what authority did you and your SO GOSIP friends interrupt an official business meeting of the district?]

TUMMOTA: Their rights are just as important to me as these rights, but it’s when they’re not displayed correctly, that’s when the problem happens and right now there’s being some good (inaudible) discussions going on here. But I got, I do read the blogs so does my supervisor, so

Director Ross: Good

[Ouooooo TUMMOTA is one of the few people who do read my blogs and he has a supervisor who reads too. Wow. Sure would like to have a talk with that supervisor as well. Sure seems as though Emery has bought into the officious intermeddler’s bit when he cries about being a victim. Responsible party is more fitting.]

Director Richardson: I send them to Sacramento.

TUMMOTA: You don’t need to, they’re on the internet correct?

Director Richardson: Beg your pardon?

TUMMOTA: Internet is everywhere in the world

Director Richardson: No, but I sent letters with the blog site to individual agencies in Sacramento.

Director Skoien: OK, let’s move on

VP Kinsella: Any other comments?

Director Richardson: I have nothing to be ashamed of.

[You should have seen their faces! Lol I guess the response they expected was for me to go “oh golly gee! You and your supervisor have been reading my blogs for years! Holy Moly I must be in big trouble and better stop writing immediately!” I have a stamp with LAKEDONPEDRO.ORG that I use on correspondence envelopes. Heck I’ve sent a bunch of bumper stickers to different agencies and departments in Sacramento with that same website address – like I’m really trying to hide something.

I want authorities to see what the SO GOSIP have been, and are doing, in Lake Don Pedro. COME AND GET IT!]

Syndie (acting secretary after Charise Reeves left the meeting room): No I just heard, taking notes for the secretary, I just wanted to know where we’re at on here are we (audience laughter)

Multiple voices

Director Ross: Director Comments

Syndie: on the agenda, and I was under the impression that that’s what we could discuss in a meeting, so I thought maybe I step into either a second meeting or are we under director comments, I just wanted to know

VP Kinsella: We’re under director comments but everybody else seems to be

Syndie: Ok

VP Kinsella: putting in their input

Syndie: You had opened up director comments? That’s where all this was?

VP Kinsella: Yeah

Syndie: OK

VP Kinsella: Yes

Syndie: Thank you

VP Kinsella: Mark?

Director Mark Skoien: I just want to say to Harry, back a few, when it was CSD business that was being talked about, (laughs) that we did do what you said, you didn’t think we should usurp his authority, that was in our statement when we reported out, that that was one reason why we didn’t, she left us no wiggle room and we just, hopefully the mediator will help work out a lot of these other things, but I think actually it was probably the last CSD business that we spoke about. Anyway I just wanted to say that we did come out

Harry Alfier: I do recall Bill saying when he came out

Director Skoien: and it was in our report out

Harry Alfier: in your policy basically

Director Skoien: so, that’s all I got to say

Harry Alfier: Thank you

VP Kinsella: Does anybody else have any comments? I’ll entertain a motion to adjourn. (laughter)

Director Skoien: I’ll second that motion

VP Kinsella: Meeting is adjourned.


[Shortly after the meeting I observed TUMMOTA outside the CSD office so I approached him and formally introduced myself with a handshake which he accepted without offering his name. I asked him his name but even with two attempts he could not intelligibly pronounce it and advised to “Just call me Rick”. (Note: TUMMOTA, as meeting audio recordings will clearly establish, spoke fluent English and had no noticeable accent of a second language.)

The more I spoke with TUMMOTA the less I believed he was anything but an imposter and officious intermeddler as a representative for the SO GOSIP camp. He could not offer any explanation for his presence other than being “unbiased” but refused to discuss topics he allowed to be presented in the meeting by the SO GOSIP and even turned down an offered tour of the Deerwood-Alfier Road. Very peculiar but I think with time much more will be learned about our mysterious TUMMOTA.

Let’s hope future meeting topics will be confined to the business of the district and service to customers. There are a lot of serious issues to address.

My best to you and yours, Lew

Categories: Uncategorized.


Reading Time: 7 minutes

NOTE: The below cartoon is merely a saterical illustration regarding some dangerous narrow roads constructed in the Lake Don Pedro Subdivison 12 years after 1991 SRA (State Responsibility Area) Fire Safe Minimum Roadway Standards were established.   The cartoon in no way refers to any actual fire.

1991 SRA Fire Safe Minimum Roadway Standards do what?

1991 SRA Fire Safe Minimum Roadway Standards do what?

1991 SRA Fire Safe Minimum Roadway Standards Do What?

Verbatim transcript is BLUE and based on analog and/or digital recordings of meeting.


Well back to the salt mine…….

[Believe it or not we are approaching the end of this report on the infamous October 21st, 2011 LDPCSD Board Meeting but there are a lot of points to still cover.

The SO GOSIP (Same Old Group Of Special Interest People) will likely have a difficult time topping their performances at that meeting, but who knows?   Perhaps someone will show up masquerading as an FBI agent, or Senator, maybe even the Governor of The State himself in the attempt to hi-jack another meeting?  I don’t think so after the last one where VP Kinsella had a Deputy Sheriff stand by to ensure the SO GOSIP didn’t turn a few minutes of their pleading and whining into a much lengthier barrage of personal attacks, accusations, and discussions about nonrelated CSD matters.


You will “recall” from the previous blog, Harry Alfier (owner of Lake Don Pedro Realty) felt “we were” getting off the subject when I attempted to explain my opinion that the substantial modifications made to a 1970s pathway or trail should have been compliant with 1991 SRA Fire Safe Minimum Roadway Standards.  I realize this is a sensitive subject for Harry because after all, he has received quite a special benefit in the form of an asphalt paved road that turns right at the entrance to his property.


Sure he jumps up and down and shouts that the road still exists.  Yup he can drive up to and access his lot much easier now without the dirt, mud, rocks, brush and grass to traverse, but other than driving out there across someone else’s property to visit his lot, what has he actually gained?  As I understand State fire code and County Building requirements that road is not a proper access for residential construction which begs the question:  Will that road ever be used to access multiple homes unless brought up to code?  Could it possibly be removed and the hill reseeded as suggested in the conclusion statement by a registered engineer who inspected the roadway?



Although it is not surprising Harry is at the heart of yet another controversy in Don Pedro it is still a bit disturbing just how obvious the personal benefit is this time.   The best interests of residents, out of area owners, the community, and the very organizations entrusted to represent those interests have always taken a backseat in the political vehicle driven by Harry and fueled with disinformation.]

Director Richardson:  Well that’s what I said earlier none of this is, has to do with the business of the district.

Harry Alfier:  You just sat there as a board member and told Coralane that her father was breaking all these rules and you forget

Director Richardson:  No she got up and attacked me and called me a liar

Harry Alfier:  (inaudible) heard it

Director Richardson:  and I am not a liar

Harry Alfier:  (inaudible) set the record straight, you are

Director Richardson:  I am not

Harry Alfier:  Well you’re playing fast and loose with the truth

Director Richardson:  No I am not

Harry Alfier: You’ve heard the court decision; you’ve seen the judge’s decision

Director Richardson:  Then why won’t the county

Multiple voices, inaudible

[There we go again with the emotional and erroneous accusation that I am a liar – which Harry quickly reduced to “playing fast and loose with the truth” when denied.   Yes I am familiar with the court decision.  SO what?  There are many, many examples of decisions and rulings made during a particular time that are eventually corrected when negative consequences result.  Understand too, especially in these precarious financial times for our entire country, law suits against governmental entities are not appreciated and usually disposed of in the most expedient and desirable manner to that entity.  Perhaps a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs would have subjected the government to even more difficulties?

Should the County of Mariposa have enforced grading and code requirements which would have triggered and allowed CDF/CALFIRE to prevent the construction of those substandard roads?  I most certainly think so – shouldn’t taxpayers have had the expectation laws and regulations designed to protect them would be followed by their elected and appointed officials?

Is it fair that ordinary citizens were placed in the horrible position of having to expend their “golden years” retirement funds in an attempt to force the government to do what probably should have been done in the first place?   I don’t think so, but hey, I’m just a tax paying citizen, not a judge with years of experience in such legal matters.

I KNOW – IF MY AUNT HAD BALLS SHE’D BE MY UNCLE—but let’s play “what if” anyway

What IF Deerwood had graded the road through a lot owned by a family struggling to survive without the funds to support extended litigation?

What IF no one ever heard about these roads and such construction continued?

What IF Deerwood Custom Homes were quickly built to obtain the enhanced view of the Sierras without conforming driveways?

What IF the homes were actually purchased and occupied by families?

What IF a home caught fire and spread to others but fire equipment could not reach the conflagration and people were severely injured or killed?

That older couple who has experienced years of suffering, frustration and reduction in their “golden years savings” may very well be UNKNOWN HEROES who prevented serious accidents from happening.

Even without homes being constructed there, I wonder if Harry would care to swear on the life of his daughter that no one will ever be injured or killed on his private little driveway?   Not as easy as believing a pathway was a road – huh?


Harry Alfier runs around shouting “I won in court – I won in court” evidently believing this success (actually more a result of the Deerwood Corporation’s professional legal expertise and experience in such matters) is some kind of a rubber stamp condoning the activities which produced a number of extremely dangerous roadways in this community.   He is purposefully confusing different issues.


If a defendant in a criminal case, facing overwhelming conclusive evidence of guilt, was released due to some kind of procedural legal error, would it be reasonable to equate that release with moral innocence?

If that defendant proclaimed “I won in court”  – would a murder, rape, robbery (or whatever)  be dismissed as acceptable social conduct only because he was not actually convicted and sentenced to prison?   Could he then claim the results of his activity were morally or ethically proper?   I do not believe so.  Claiming “I won in court” is a pathetic defense for what has been done in jeopardizing the safety and lives of others.


This reminds me of the old bumper sticker:  “My Lawyer Can Beat Up Your Lawyer”.  Unfortunately, I think most of us realize justice, sometimes like anything else, can essentially be purchased by the one with a deeper financial pocket than his adversary.  I seriously doubt the same result would have been achieved if Deerwood did the same thing to someone who had as much money and influence.   Though you may not be able to un-ring a bell, there are procedures to remove or correct those extremely dangerous roads and CDF/CALFIRE possesses that legal mechanism – but will that process be utilized during a time when most every organization is experiencing budget problems?

When I first learned of the new $150/year STATE FIRE FEE for homes in SRAs I wondered if any of that money would be used to correct situations like in Don Pedro or will we as a community simply wait for the inevitable accident that often prompts change?   Sure doesn’t seem fair that those of us who constructed and/or maintained our homes to be compliant with fire and building codes must pay another $150/year in fees while corporations like Deerwood who have constructed roadways that are clearly noncompliant with 12 year old Fire Safe regulations, pay nothing.

You know, it has been humorously suggested that these developer convenience roads may have been simply unintentional mistakes because Deerwood was just so accustomed to constructing cart paths at the golf course.


This phrase is used to advertise Harry Alfier’s Lake Don Pedro Realty office located in in La Grange, Stanislaus County only a few miles west of the subdivision and LDPCSD water service.  OK, I understand the “experience” part since Lake Don Pedro Realty has been in existence and doing business since 1968, but it’s the “trust” part that is a bit disconcerting.

I have always wondered:  How in the world does Harry rationalize within his heart (recognizing his mind is already focused on making money through real estate deals), any form of advocacy or excuse for the construction of noncompliant and extremely dangerous roadways?  I guess one could be cynical and suggest because he is some sort of a modern day “carpet bagger” only exploiting the resources of the Don Pedro area since he is not a resident.


Gosh he’s had so many years of opportunity and is very familiar with the area.  He runs a real estate business focused on this area yet couldn’t find a suitable residence in Lake Don Pedro for decades?  Did he really want to live here?


Prior to going any further with Harry Alfier’s statements I think it is long overdue for you folks who have never seen the Deerwood-Alfier Roadway – have the opportunity to take a gander.   What sort of person trurly believes such roads are adequate to serve multiple homes in our rugged and designated high fire severity zone?

Don’t worry — seatbelts will not be required.


My Best to You and Yours, Lew

Categories: Uncategorized.


Reading Time: 14 minutes


Verbatim Transcript based on analog and/or digital recording of meeting.

Director Richardson:  Well I guess it’s Harry’s turn now.

Harry Alfier:  Well, I’d just like to once and for all look Lew in the eye

Director Richardson:  OK, hang on

Harry Alfier:  and have Lew look me in the eye, those regulations that you keep telling me that I’m violating and Tom Porter is violating

Director Richardson:  I’ve never said you violated them

Harry Alfier:  well my driveway violates them you tell me, the bottom line is, it says right on those regulations Lew, these regulations do not apply to any roadways constructed prior to 1991 when the regulations came in

Director Richardson:  right.

NOTE: SRA stands for State Responsibility Area and SO GOSIP = Same Old Group Of Special Interest People

[NOT A DRIVEWAY.   I believe Mr. Alfier is confusing terms because it is a roadway that actually serves his property off Alamo Drive, not a driveway.  A road provides access to more than two residential or access to any industrial or commercial occupancy. The Deerwood-Alfier road was clearly constructed to provide access to at least five parcels immediately:  one for Harry Alfier and four for the Deerwood Corporation further south.   Apparently there were plans to extend the road around the hill to the west to reach other properties and re-connect with Alamo Drive, but such a project would have to conform to 1991 SRA Fire Safe Minimum Roadway Standards.

A roadway is defined as any surface designed, improved, or ordinarily used for vehicle travel.  As discussed below, there are very good arguments to support the opinion the original “pathway” established in the early 1970s was not a road.   

I HAVE NEVER DISAGREED that preexisting driveways and roads were exempt from SRA 1991 Fire Safe Minimum Roadway Standards because it would be extremely unfair to make owners of existing driveways and roads spend money to bring them up to a newly created standard.  They were satisfactorily serving the purpose up to that point, but in this case the pathway was not being used to serve anything, yet it was upgraded to a roadway to serve multiple homes in the future with complete disregard for regulations and safety. 


The new fire codes also applied to “new construction, not relating to an existing structure, which requires a building permit”.   IN MY OPINION, turning a minimally scraped pathway into a substandard and dangerous 1,600’ asphalt paved road to serve multiple homes is analogous to upgrading a temporary storage shed to a 4,000 sqft family residence with disregard for building code requirements concerning structural calculations, foundation engineering, framing, roofing, electrical, plumbing, etc., because the quality and safety of the finished project will suffer. (This is a great example of “cutting corners”.) 

A residence not built to code produces a dangerous and noncompliant home, and a pathway turned into a road without regard to minimum roadway standards creates a dangerous substandard road.      

Harry Alfier:  All the roads that you’re questioning and I know that you don’t believe me but I’ll, I’ll swear on my father’s grave and the life of my daughter, every road that you are talking about was constructed by Boise Cascade in the early 70’s to provide access to these properties.

[I’m sorry, but that’s kind of creepy – swearing on your father’s grave and daughter’s life?  I’m sure Harry was only trying to emphasize his point and instill confidence in that what he was saying was the truth, but I’m sorry, I disagree and find his method of persuasion rather melodramatic and in poor taste.  I do think Harry has convinced himself it is the truth, otherwise he wouldn’t say such a thing but there is a big difference between a scraped pathway serving nothing and only marking where a road might be constructed someday and roads “constructed by Boise Cascade”.       

If such roadways were indeed constructed by Boise Cascade in the early 70’s, where are the maps, engineer reports, grading permits, and county approvals?  

Why are there no official maps of these roads in county records?  Even the nonexclusive easements upon which these alleged “roads” were constructed were not filed until AFTER the Final Subdivision Map for Lake Don Pedro had been approved by the county.  

How can roadway infrastructure changes be made to the legally approved Final Subdivision Map without public input and discussion? 

The easements giving rise to these access roads were clearly “after-thoughts” designed to reach properties which already had designated driveways connected to state or county maintained roads.  These developer-convenience roads are not required for property access.    

Harry Alfier:  Don’t shake your head because that’s the truth and I can prove to you that’s the truth.  The courts have already, the courts aren’t stupid they saw it and saw the aerial photograph so you just keep telling the same lie and that’s why, when, you just kill me when you keep telling me how everything I say is the truth, everything, it’s not the truth, the truth is, it says right on the, how can they violate those regulations when the regulations clearly state those roads are exempt from those regulations? 

Director Richardson:  Any modification to an existing road had to come into conformance with the 1991 SRA …

Harry Alfier:  Where’s the modification?

Director Richardson:  When you asphalt pave 1,600 feet of road it’s a modification

Harry Alfier:  (inaudible)

Director Richardson:  Plus that road was not there at that time because the satellite images clearly showed that it was not there.

Unknown:  getting off the subject

Multiple voices

Harry Alfier:  We’re getting off the subject

[Oh…now you’re concerned about getting off the subject?  But you are the one that brought the matter up.  Now in regards to the Deerwood-Alfier Roadway that serves Harry’s property, I attended that court hearing and saw the same aerial photograph displayed on the court room wall which was evidently accepted as proof of a previous existing road.  With all due respect to Judge Parrish, I did not see a road but merely a pathway or trail through hillside grass. 

I would agree that a pathway may have been scraped once years ago but construction of a “real road” never occurred nor is there any past paperwork indicating such.  Part of Harry Alfier’s evidence that the road existed was based on a declaration by Wes Snyder who worked closely with Boise Cascade and Harry’s father “Uncle Milt” who has been selling property here since 1968 (Even before the subdivision had been approved.).  

Mr. Alfier provided evidence to the court about the operation of the Lake Don Pedro Owners’ Association which is interesting since he only makes a living here and is not a resident.   You must also remember there were “land developer friendly directors” on a board which refused to enforce regulations which Harry has always supported.   Part of our regulations prohibited “dirt work” without approval, but without enforcement from those directors and committees……anything desired was allowed.

The fact the CONSTRUCTED DEERWOOD PAVED ROADWAY indeed existed at the time Judge Parrish heard the matter undoubtedly played a big part in its being permitted to remain, however, it appears to me as though the circumvention of PUBLIC SAFETY LAW was essentially rewarded with the ruling a previous road had existed and therefore it was not subject to the new Fire Code Standards.  This is an old method of operation for developers not wishing to get “tangled-up” with restrictive or prohibitive laws, regulations or codes – sneak the project in under the authoritative/enforcement radar then request mitigation measures for approval and/or use.


I have been advised a number of people were interested in the Parrish fire tragedy and how that other road made the point of SRA Fire Safe Roadway Minimum Standards in regards to the similar “hairpin” turn on Harry Alfier’s property.  Judge Parrish made the favorable ruling for Deerwood and Alfier prior to his accident but begs the question if his decision might have been different if heard after his personal loss.   Rather than trying to “sum up” that original article, here it is: 



REMINDER TO THE SO GOSIP:  THIS IS MY OPINION as to how and why those dangerous roads were able to be created 12 years after passage of the 1991 SRA Fire Safe Minimum Roadway Standards.

THE HOUSING BOON.  At the time the housing construction industry was wild with growth.  Numerous properties in this area were available at distressed prices and Thomas Porter and his Deerwood Corporation had the ability to purchase several hundred.  With these properties and their votes came the power to vote in LDPOA elections providing him with the ability to place whomever he wanted on the board. 

PORTER HAD A TIME FRAME and could not be slowed down with normal procedures, constraining or even prohibitive subdivision regulations.

FIRST LINE DEFENSE DESTROYED.   Porter was able to “sponsor” real estate/land development “friendly directors” on the LDPOA who refused to enforce the CC&Rs and the Trifold which was a condensed pamphlet of regulations designed to protect the subdivision from uncontrolled development.  The TriFold had been successfully relied on for approximately  17 years and had been upheld in both Tuolumne and Mariposa County Superior Courts yet was ultimately rescinded in a highly questionable procedure by “Porter Supporters” on differing boards.   Only 40 year old CC&Rs now protect the subdivision and they too are rarely enforced if contrary to what the SO GOSIP advocate.

The LDPOA was supposed to protect this area on behalf of ALL OWNERS but it was quickly neutered and many speculative/model homes, and developer convenience roads were constructed without approval.  Despite assurances by former directors involved that “approval letters” establishing “compliance” were in every Deerwood file, the statements were completely untrue.  This is the ironic part, had Mr. Porter confined his building to the existing rules by only constructing homes for those ready to purchase he would not have found himself possessing so many new and vacant homes for so many years.  Obviously, Mr. Porter was not the only housing speculator practicing in this area at the time but Deerwood cleared the trail – so to speak.

NONEXCLUSIVE EASEMENTS.   As mentioned above, these were filed after the Final Subdivision Map was approved and were intended to provide access to “difficult to develop lots”, however, they did not have anything to do with roadway standards being followed to produce adequate and safe roadways.  They merely identified the location where roads could later be established.   The future road would have to be constructed on top of the nonexclusive easement, yet in the Deerwood-Alfier Road due to the terrain, the road in places, was simply cut into the hillside where most convenient and wasn’t confined to the underlying easement.  This in combination with obstructing Public Easements for natural drainage (increased erosion due to installation of roads without required soil studies, proper engineering, drainage control, etc.) and the asphalt paving dedicated Pedestrian & Equestrian Trails in violation of Mariposa County Ordinance 950 -which prohibits motor vehicles on trails, has created a host of problems for this subdivision in the future.

GRADING PERMITS.  These “developer-convenience roads” definitely required a grading permit due to the substantial amount of material that would be cut and used for fill, however, had a grading permit been obtained from the Mariposa County Building Department, CDF/CALFIRE would have been notified.   This “trigger notification” would have resulted in an inspection/approval process CDF/CALFIRE.

CDF/CALFIRE WOULD NOT APPROVE. There is no doubt that CDF/CALFIRE would have inspected and denied the proposed roads due to their refusal to recognize a rudimentary scraped pathway or trail as a legitimate preexisting road which would be exempt from the 1991 SRA Fire Safe Minimum Roadway Standards established 12 years earlier.

CONSTRUCTION OF SRA FIRE SAFE COMPLIANT ROADWAYS would have been extremely expensive, if even possible considering the underlying easement and terrain, and time consuming which were two critical variables for a land developer dedicated to constructing as many homes as possible while the “Housing Boon” existed.

THEREFORE it was absolutely crucial to develop some kind of way to access the properties for residence construction while simultaneously avoiding application for a grading permit which would have triggered CDF/CALFIRE involvement and put an immediate end to his road construction business before it started.  

Apparently this is what happened:  Deerwood representatives would go to the Mariposa County Public Works Department and obtain Encroachment Permits which only allow construction of a driveway from one or two residences to an adjacent state or county maintained roadway. 

Once the encroachment permit was obtained, Deerwood (under the radar of the Building Department grading permit requirements) constructed several asphalt paved roads to access multiple properties at once!  Saved money, accessed more homes, and in Harry Alfier’s case, greatly enhanced his properties’ view of the high Sierras and Don Pedro Lake by allowing construction on top of the hill rather than at a lower elevation with a traditional and expensive driveway. 

PRESTO!  Regulations specifically designed to protect life and property IN A DESIGNATED HIGH FIRE SEVERITY ZONE were circumvented for convenience and profit.  (((YET I AM ACCUSED OF BEING AN EVIL MAN???)))   I find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to believe a decades old land development/mortgage corporation like Deerwood, who had vast experience with construction in other California foothill communities was not familiar with SRA requirements much less local building and grading codes and regulations.   Sorry just can’t buy that one.


Were those original “pathways/trails” approved as “ROADS” by local government and therefore exempt?  I do not believe so.  Here are some interesting paragraphs from a March 31, 2004 CDF correspondence regarding interpreting SRA Fire Safe Regulations:


Access is a major fire protection need, whether wild land or structural.  Failure to provide a reasonable access for emergency equipment and evacuation egress for civilians can result in major loss of life, property and natural resources.  Fire apparatus sitting at an intersection, waiting for civilians to exit on a narrow road cannot provide the necessary fire suppression action.  Safe access requires street and road networks that limit dead-end roads and provide reasonable widths, grades and curves on roads and driveways.”

“The suitability and safety of access is not dependent upon the date of construction, but rather the design criteria for that road.  Many existing roads may meet or exceed these standards, however many do not.  CDF and local fire fighters have responded to emergencies on unsafe, substandard roads for years.  The past use does not mitigate the danger to fire fighters and civilians.”

“The Board of Forestry recognizes the standards within the SRA Fire Safe Regulations are minimum standards and not intended to be applicable within the two zones of greater hazard levels.  The majority of SRA lands within Mariposa County fall within the “two zones of greater hazard levels.”  The Board also recognizes that past use of sub-standard roads does not mitigate this danger to firefighters and civilians.

While the Board recognized that retroactive application was impractical, the Board states the intent that transportation infrastructure would improve as development occurs.  In the last thirteen years of the regulations, rural counties have made little progress toward the improvement of existing infrastructure due, in part, to the miss-application of the intent of the law.”

SO ANYWAY – Since that original court hearing I have viewed many other aerial photographs and satellite images of that area taken over the years which supports the opinion it was indeed only a pathway/trail until Deerwood construction equipment graded and asphalted an actual roadway, which although better than the original pathway, didn’t even come close to meeting 1991 SRA Fire Safe minimum roadway standards.

Here are some photographs of photographs so the clarity is not all that great but good enough to make some points about how a “pathway/trail” was turned into a nonconforming and extremely dangerous road. 


Here’s a plot of some of the area for a better understanding of the road’s configuration.  Remember that lots in the subdivision were intended for residential development.  How can you build a house with an on-sight sewage disposal system with all the required setbacks when a roadway diagonally crosses the rectangular lot?  Lot 1177 was essentially scraficed so a developer-convenience road could access other properties.  The  purpose of FIre Safe minimum roadway standards were completely ignored.   
















ABOVE: This particular developer-convenience road also partially covers and in one area, completely covers a Mariposa County Dedicated Pedestrian & Equestrian Trail with asphalt.  As the road continues south it actually veers off from its underlying easement, which is to say, the road wasn’t even built where it should have been.   Mariposa County Ordinance 950 prohibits motor vehicles on P&E Trails. 

Below are some photographs of photographs so the quality isn’t all that great, but they were part of the court record and were prepared and analyzed by a court recognized expert.  That brief analysis of the photo appears below the image.  Once the pathway/trail is scraped in later photos notice the difference in width between Alamo Drive which arches around the area that is supposed to contain the eventual Deerwood-Alfier Road.  How can such a trail be considered an actual road – especially when it serves no residence? 


ABOVE PHOTO: No activity is shown on the tract prior to 1971, with the exeptions of the lot access from Alamo Drive to the lots 1148-1152 and 1172-1178.  Native soils are very light colored and show up clearly once disturbed.  The section of Alamo Drive shown in the photo is not paved on this date.















ABOVE PHOTO: The 1974 photo indicates that a preliminary pathway has been cut into the side hill from lot 1149 south to 1152.  The pathway shows revegatation in some areas.  This indicated the pathway was done between 1973 and April 1971.  The tire tracks are visible with vegetation in the middle.  This pathway was not maintained after being initially scraped and cut into the hillsides.  (Note the shadows that show on the uphill side of the trail.) There is no indication that construction allowed for handling drainage water that would be discharged on the downside of the pathway. 















ABOVE PHOTO: The 1985 photo shows some sections of the north south pathway are completely revegetated.  Other sections clearly show light vehicle use with vegetation in the middle.  The section across lot 1177 is the section with most exposed soils.  There is no indication that significant erosion has occurred on the slope below the pathway.
















ABOVE PHOTO: The 1987 photo show continued, but light use, of the section of the easement from Alamo Dr. through lot 1177.  There is re-vegetation on some parts of this east to west pathway.  The easement extending south shows only small spots of bare soils.  Alamo Drive has been paved at the time of this photo.

PHOTO ABOVE: In 1993, the pathway from Alamo across lot 1177 has been maintained to remove the vegetation and permit temporary vehicle access to lot 1178.  Also an area south of this segment has been scraped leaving bare soils in the center of lot 1177.  The segment of pathway from 1149 south is completely re-vegetated.  The exception being narrow channels cut by water erosion parallel to the pathway.  The photo indicates increased erosion on lot 1150.

















ABOVE 1997 PHOTO: Photo shows declining use of the pathway across lot 1177.  The upper portion across lot 1178 going south is difficult to see in the photo.  No change on the pathway from 1149 to the south.  Pathway is completely covered with vegetation.















ABOVE 1998 PHOTO: The segment of pathway from Alamo across lot 1177 shows more use than segment going south.  The segment going south has no indication of bare soils.  This segment is also variaable in width from 5-7 feet.  The narrow portion is on the south portion of the pathway near lot 1172.  There is no indication of vehicle traffic on pathway going south.  The southern portion of the pathway is too narrow for a vehicle at time of this photo.

ABOVE PHOTO: December 1 2004: This photo shows the completed surfacing of the access road.  The photo shows no measures to handle the increased water on lot 1150.


Who will be responsible for the maintenance and repair of these private dangerous roads which are open to the public?  Will a “special benefit assessment” for road maintenance have to be paid by all beneficieries of such roads?   Wouldn’t these dangerous roads consistute a known disclosure?  Wonder if that is on Harry’s little check list for buyers?

What about the liability for property loss, potential accidents, injuries and/or death?

I have so much more to share with you but I am very tired and need to get away from this monitor, but until then and as always……

My best to you and yours, Lew

PS: I’ve got something special to show you next time in my continuing response to Mr. Harry Alfier’s “Swing of the Bat”.

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