Climate Change and Lorie Zapf

by on September 17, 2018 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

Jan 5, 2016 – Newport Ave in OB. Photo by Jim Grant

By Jordan Beane

On September 13th, the Union-Tribune released their interviews with our District 2 candidates, Dr. Jennifer Campbell and current District 2 City Councilmember Lorie Zapf. In Zapf’s interview, there were a lot of specific questions about the Climate Action Plan, it’s goals and more.

However, I believe the UT should have asked her a simpler question: Do you, Councilmember Zapf, believe in climate change?

Our Republican representative wants you to believe she cares about this existential threat and its impact on San Diego. She, along with the rest of the city council, voted to approve San Diego’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) in 2015. She mentioned the CAP in an op-ed. She even used the word “climate” in a tweet once (the only time she’s done so in 1,700+ missives). She and the Lincoln Club (San Diego’s version of the Koch Brothers) flooded the mailboxes of District 2 with the same two images of Zapf cleaning out the San Diego River, portraying our Republican representative as an environmental champion.

On the other hand, Councilmember Zapf also voted against the CAP when it was in committee, asking that legally-enforceable emissions reductions be “a goal, rather than a mandate”. And she voted against a measure asking the mayor to move quicker when it came to putting out his plan. And less than a year after the passage of the CAP, her Smart Growth and Land Use Committee failed its first test in producing community plans that fit CAP standards. And implementing the CAP was not a budgetary priority for Councilmember Zapf in 2016. Or in 2017.

And in 2014 Councilmember Zapf’s budget priorities had no place for helping San Diego trees (although four years later she did say in her UT interview “I love trees” so ¯\_(?)_/¯). And she was one of two people who voted to move forward with two environmentally devastating road projects.

But sure, you say, that’s just a depressing tally of anti-environmental votes from a city council member who represents a large swath of San Diego’s natural beauty and fragile ecosystems. However, let’s not forget she wrote a paragraph celebrating the CAP one time! She once tweeted about climate change, kind of! She made a video in a kayak! Clearly, she sees climate change as a threat to San Diego and plans to be a leader in protecting future generations from devastating impacts like sea-level rise, drought, species die off and more, right?


In a January 2016 podcast with the Voice of San Diego, Councilmember Zapf explains how she really feels about climate change and it’s effect on sea level rise.

(please note the transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and all bold emphasis is mine)

Scott Lewis: “I was kind of shocked to hear that in November, right before Thanksgiving, we had literally the highest ever recorded tide in San Diego’s history. The ocean has risen a half foot in the last century and… we had an extra foot above what was predicted for the tide at this very high tide anyway in November. That caused minor flooding in the midway area, in Liberty Station, and it didn’t change the world but it filled… that Ocean Beach complex that keeps getting flooded. It was described to us as a kind of a dress rehearsal… of how sea level rise could impact the coastal zone.

You represent the coast, you talk to people who are worried about flooding in the king tide times, what are the short term things that the city can do about this? What are the long term things that we need to do to prepare because if there’s another… king tide that’s higher than they thought of before, along with a storm, there could be unprecedented flooding along the coast.”

Lorie Zapf: “Well, right now we’re in not only an El Nino but also pretty much a hundred year cycle. If you go back to literally January of 1916, you look in the history, you’ll see that they actually had far more rain in January of 1916 than we got. They had seven, I think it was seven inches in January alone, 20 inches in 1916. And so, there was massive flooding. The Sweetwater Dam was on the verge of bursting, Old Town was underwater, it was really, really bad.

So, I don’t know that we should we go on what is looking like a 100 year event and an El Nino cycle. I also sit on the SANDAG Shoreline Committee and we’ve heard a lot about sea level rise and one expert comes in and says other areas are facing it but San Diego not so much. We can really, we can really keep things, pretty good just by doing like sand replenishment and stuff like that. And so, then you have hear somebody else and they have modeling that’s different. It’s really hard to know. I mean, we can barely predict that the storm is really going to hit here next week. And so, I’m not sure we should go on what’s happening just this year.

But I do know, that the city has been doing a lot as far as installing pumps, doing a lot of, changing out the old aging, breaking pipes. We’ve got a lot better pumps and maintaining those. What we need to do is work together as a city to keep our storm drains clear of debris. Some of that flooding in Mission Beach – I was standing there and there was like nothing going down the storm drain. And so, it was a clogged storm drain. So if we just unclogged the storm drains and didn’t have so much debris then some of that flooding wouldn’t even have happened.”

“It’s really hard to know” amirite? It could be cyclical and we’ll know it’ll happen again OR there’s no way to predict what will happen next tuesday.

OB flood 2015 : photo credit: OBTC

One expert says THIS, one expert says THAT, in the end, no one can see the future. I mean, outside of say, the State of California, which suggests cities and municipalities use “projections of between 10 and 17 inches in 2050 and of 31 to 69 inches in 2100” when it comes to sea level rise preparation.

Where can you find that number? In the presentation “Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy for San Diego Bay”. Who produced it? SANDAG. One year before Councilmember Zapf was appointed to a seat there.

In the presentation they provide more than 20 types of plans to deal with rising sea levels, none of which suggested an “add some sand and clear some drains and everything will be fine” approach. SANDAG clearly sees sea level rise and climate change as having a debilitating impact on San Diego over the next century and has plans to prepare for it.

Meanwhile, Lorie Zapf thinks it’s all cyclical OR no one really knows what will happen and will probably question Aloha Taylor’s weekend weather forecast.

It’s clear that Councilmember Zapf has her concerns about the validity of sea level rise and climate change, regardless of what the agencies she represent know to be true. Someone who has these doubts should not be making decisions that will affect future generations of San Diegans.

It’s time for District 2 to be represented by someone like Dr. Jen Campbell who clearly understands the dangers of climate change, the need to begin preparing and mitigating now and the knowledge that all the cleared storm drains in the world won’t prepare San Diego for what’s on the horizon.

Oh and by the way, storm drain maintenance was not a budgetary priority for councilmember Zapf in 2016, the same year she said it was the best way to fight rising sea levels.

Jordan Beane was a candidate in the primary for Council District 2 earlier this year – garnering a little over 9% in his first electoral endeavor.

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