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By Paul Bendix

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About this blog: A 32-year resident of Menlo Park, I regularly make my way around downtown in a wheelchair. This gives me an unusual perspective on a town in which I have spent almost half of my life. I was educated at UC Berkeley, and permanentl...  (More)

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Water Torture

Uploaded: Dec 15, 2014
That's the problem with all this rain, that it can lull us into complacency, the default national mood. Of course, we need to do the opposite. This drought should be a warning shot over the bow. We can sail on, but we need to change course.

Not that there aren't promising signs. 'Los Angeles, City of Water,' proclaims the New York Times in a recent Sunday feature. Sure, it's scarcely believable. But the Los Angeles River basin, and there is one, is gradually getting unpaved. More bare soil gives stormwater a chance to sink in to recharge the aquifer, instead of running off...into the ocean at San Pedro.

Of course, like everything, aquifer recharging begins at home. Take mine, in a small downtown apartment house. Here, fourplexes share a common driveway and parking area. The latter hasn't been repaved since its birth in the 1950s. Landlords of these independently owned fourplexes, one of them me, should foot the bill for new concrete. Three of us agree on this seemingly obvious course of action. One of us has been avoiding phone calls on this topic...for years.

Actually, we landlords need to do more than pour concrete. New guidelines encourage the use of pavers, porous surfaces and other materials. These techniques allow water to sink into the dry Peninsula soil, rather than pouring into storm sewers, then the Bay. For years, I've been eyeballing the pervious concrete being used in a demonstration project downtown (sponsored by the San Francisquito Creek authority). A parking lot bordering Crane Street has several sections of semipermeable pavement. Contractors have warned me off this material, suggesting that it's prone to cracking. I don't know – but maybe readers do.

As for the nonresponsive fourth landlord, we'll have to proceed without him. Unfortunately, the water shortage will proceed without him too.
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 +  Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Dec 16, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

My experience with permeable concrete has been negative. It's slippery as heck when wet. Doesn't matter much on a flat area, but on a sloped driveway it's absolutely treacherous.

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