San Diego Weekly Reader October, 8th 2010 : Page 2

C I T Y L I G H T S UNDER THE RADAR Cash and carry A key political ally of San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders has been on the campaign trail for Democratic congressio-nal candidate Francine Busby, who is battling GOP incum Bilbray. Jim Waring, w forced out of his job as Sa ers’s land and develop planning chief during scandal over the size of the Sunroad office tower nearMontgom-ery Field, is throwing open his LaJolla home for a Busby fund-raiser on October 11, with ticket prices ranging from $100 to $1000. The special guest is UCSD historyprofessor Naomi Oreskes,authorof Mer-chants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Event sponsors include investorMurray Galinson and attor-ney Eugene Iredale…The new “Acting Senior Vice Chancellor—Academic Affairs” at UCSD will be making $350,000 a year, $50,000 more than the previous occupant, thanks to a recent decision by UC regents. Suresh Subramani, a professor of molecular biology, will fill in while a permanent chancellor is sought. Per a report to the regents: “Following Paul Drake’s announce-ment of his decision to retire fromthe Senior Vice Chancellor— Academic Affairs position effective October 1, 2010, an extensive national search was conducted for his successor. The top candidate withdrew due to com tion limitations, and there was a lac consensus onthe remaining candida interviewed. Therefore, a decisio been made to extend the search cess and appoint anActingSenior V Chancellor—Academic Affairs top vide continuity of leadership.” Summer tripping Demo cratic congresswoman Susan Davis who regularly travels the world for free, thanks to junkets staged by the Washington-based, nonprofit Aspen Institute, has been at it again. FromAugust 14 through 21, according to House travel records, she and her husband, Dr. Steven Davis, flewtoVancouver,British Columbia, tostay at the ultraluxurious Four Seasons ResortWhistler hotel duringa conference entitled “Transforming America’s Education Through Innovation and Technology.” The gist of the program was that schools need to buy more computers. Among C I T Y L I G H T S C I T Y L I G H T S the topics: “What is ‘disruptive innovation’ and how is it different fromthe kinds of change that characterize Americaneducation?” and “Is there a political cost toinvesting in technology instead of teachers? Is it an ‘either/or’ choice, or do they complement one another?” Fellow Democratic con-gressmembers on the invite list included George Miller, Rush Holt, Pete Stark, Henry Wax-man, and David Obey. There was onlyone Republican: Okla-homa’s Tom Cole. AspenInstitutepickedupthe UCSD professor/author Naomi Oreskes to speak at Busby fundraiser. round-trip travel tab between the Canadian venue and San Diego for bothDavis and her husband, $955.68 each, as well as total lodging costs for bothwitha total of$1125, and total meal expenses for the couple of$1000, according toanAugust 25 travel disclosure formsigned by Davis, which says she and her husband flewcoach and that the cost of the roomatWhistler was $225 a night…Meanwhile, over onthe GOP side of the aisle, a top aide toNorth County congressman Darrell Issa was off to Brussels fromAugust 29 through September 6, courtesy of the politically influential Bertelsmann Foundation, said tobethe biggest nonprofit foundation in Europe, created bymembers of the famous German publishing conglomerate in 1977. In 2001, a subsidiary of publisher Bertelsmann paid ex-President Bill Clintona record-smashing $15 million advance for his best seller, My Life. According to a statement filed by Kristina Moore, senior counsel tothe House Oversightand Government ReformCommittee, onwhich Issa d events I participated ture, withgroup dis-liticians and practi-elds ofUS/EU relations and climate change policy.Debateand dialogue by all participants was strongly encour-aged and led to a useful exchange of different ideas and perspectives.” Total transporta-tion costs were $1036.90, lodg-Congresswoman Susan Davis and hubby enjoy ultraluxurious junkets. Former Actis exec Alfred Hanser e $320, plus $51.68 in taxi and other ground travel, according to the disclosure. — Matt Potter The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or fax your tip to 619-231-0489. How a Pyramid Topples By Don Bauder P ssst! Wanna double your money in one day?Yes, the stock ofActis Global Ventures, based in Carlsbad, soared from $0.0001 to $0.0002 on September 2. Officially, the stock’s price is still $0.00, according to Yahoo. com, which rounds of f share p convenience A co Actis go ity as o County’ level ma Such fi out of s as wel custom Distri tors ma money o p r o d uc they se well as on products that people they recruited into the scheme sell. That’s why multilevel marketing, also known as network market-ing, is often called what it is: a pyramid scheme. Over and over, it has been shown that only a small percent-age of people in the pyramid make significant money, but the schemes still proliferate. San Diego, for example, C I T Y L C I T Y L C I T Y L C I T Y L C I T Y L Y L I G H T S UNDER THE RADAR Cash and carry A key political ally of San Diego ma Y L I G H T S UNDER THE RADAR Cash and carry A key political ally of San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders has been on the campaign trail for Democratic congressio-nal candidate Francine Busby, who is battling GOP incum Bilbray. Jim Waring, w forced out of his job as Sa ers’s land and develop planning chief during scandal over the size of the Sunroad office tower nearMontgom-ery Field, is throwing open his LaJolla home for a Busby fund-raiser on October 11, with ticket prices ranging from $100 to $1000. The special guest is UCSD historyprofessor Naomi Oreskes,authorof Mer-chants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Event sponsors include investorMurray Galinson and attor-ney Eugene Iredale…The new “Acting Senior Vice Chancellor—Academic Affairs” at UCSD will be making $350,000 a year, $50,000 more than the previous occupant, thanks to a recent decision by UC regents. Suresh Subramani, a professor of molecular biology, will fill in while a permanent chancellor is sought. Per a report to the regents: “Following Paul Drake’s announce-ment of his decision to retire fromthe Senior Vice Chancellor— Academic Affairs position effective October 1, 2010, an extensive national search was conducted for his successor. The top candidate withdrew due to com tion limitations, and there was a lac consensus onthe remaining candida interviewed. Therefore, a decisio been made to extend the search cess and appoint anActingSenior V Chancellor—Academic Affairs top vide continuity of leadership.” Summer tripping Demo cratic congresswoman Susan Davis who regularly travels the world for free, thanks to junkets staged by the Washington-based, nonprofit Aspen Institute, has been at it again. FromAugust 14 through 21, according to House travel records, she and her husband, Dr. Steven Davis, flewtoVancouver,British Columbia, tostay at the ultraluxurious Four Seasons ResortWhistler hotel duringa conference entitled “Transforming America’s Education Through Innovation and Technology.” The gist of the program was that schools need to buy more computers. Among C I T Y L I G H T S C I T Y L I G H T S the topics: “What is ‘disruptive innovation’ and how is it different fromthe kinds of change that characterize Americaneducation?” and “Is there a political cost toinvesting in technology instead of teachers? Is it an ‘either/or’ choice, or do they complement one another?” Fellow Democratic con-gressmembers on the invite list included George Miller, Rush Holt, Pete Stark, Henry Wax-man, and David Obey. There was onlyone Republican: Okla-homa’s Tom Cole. AspenInstitutepickedupthe UCSD professor/author Naomi Oreskes to speak at Busby fundraiser. round-trip travel tab between the Canadian venue and San Diego for bothDavis and her husband, $955.68 each, as well as total lodging costs for bothwitha total of$1125, and total meal expenses for the couple of$1000, according toanAugust 25 travel disclosure formsigned by Davis, which says she and her husband flewcoach and that the cost of the roomatWhistler was $225 a night…Meanwhile, over onthe GOP side of the aisle, a top aide toNorth County congressman Darrell Issa was off to Brussels fromAugust 29 through September 6, courtesy of the politically influential Bertelsmann Foundation, said tobethe biggest nonprofit foundation in Europe, created bymembers of the famous German publishing conglomerate in 1977. In 2001, a subsidiary of publisher Bertelsmann paid ex-President Bill Clintona record-smashing $15 million advance for his best seller, My Life. According to a statement filed by Kristina Moore, senior counsel tothe House Oversightand Government ReformCommittee, onwhich Issa d events I participated ture, withgroup dis-liticians and practi-elds ofUS/EU relations and climate change policy.Debateand dialogue by all participants was strongly encour-aged and led to a useful exchange of different ideas and perspectives.” Total transporta-tion costs were $1036.90, lodg-Congresswoman Susan Davis and hubby enjoy ultraluxurious junkets. Former Actis exec Alfred Hanser e $320, plus $51.68 in taxi and other ground travel, according to the disclosure. — Matt Potter The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or fax your tip to 619-231-0489. How a Pyramid Topples By Don Bauder P ssst! Wanna double your money in one day?Yes, the stock ofActis Global Ventures, based in Carlsbad, soared from $0.0001 to $0.0002 on September 2. Officially, the stock’s price is still $0.00, according to Yahoo. com, which rounds of f share p convenience A co Actis go ity as o County’ level ma Such fi out of s as wel custom Distri tors ma money o p r o d uc they se well as on products that people they recruited into the scheme sell. That’s why multilevel marketing, also known as network market-ing, is often called what it is: a pyramid scheme. Over and over, it has been shown that only a small percent-age of people in the pyramid make significant money, but the schemes still proliferate. San Diego, for example, Actis Actis CEO Ray Grimm, popular with the social set, not with the government Rancho Santa Fe, is a darling s, as well ul Peo-ned a palatial was used for till lives nch, and on over tion of hinis. not so ed in ve r n -ment cir-les. He had been under Environmental, which sells environmentally friendly oil additives, was quoted at all of 2 cents a share, and F.I.T.T. Highway Products, formerlyWho’s Your Daddy, distributor of energy shots (recently moved to Orange County), was quoted at 9 cents. The aristocrat of the bunch, LifeVantage, which makes antiaging products, was trading hands for a less meager 58 cents a share. Most of these pyramids don’t make it. Consider Actis. As far as I can determine, $0.00 is a very realistic price for its stock because the com-pany no longer has any oper-ations. The company chief executive, Ray Grimm of San Diegans Sparse on Forbes 400 List ...Money manager Charles Brandes at $1.5 billion is number 269. Irwin Jacobs... How’d Ya Like to Retire with $300,000 a Year of Taxpayer Moolah? The retirement packages of City of San Diego employees... Price Slashes, Improved Team Haven’t Helped Padres The San Diego Padres play their last two 2010 games at home... Read Don Bauder news updates like these every day at SDReader.com of Carlsbad’s USA Inc., which sold supposed health products. Then the Food and Drug Adminis-tration said the products were unapproved and mis-branded. USA closed and Grimm moved on to Uni-Vite, which hawked diet food from Carlsbad. The company went public by merging into a Nevada shell company, running afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the process. Grimm then moved to still another Carlsbad multilevel marketer, Body Wise. But the Federal Trade Commis-sion charged that the com-pany made deceitful weight-loss and cholesterol-reduc-ing claims. In the year 2000, Grimm and his wife set up FemOne to peddle so-called nutri-tional and skin-care prod-ucts (also from Carlsbad). FemOne stock initially soared, getting to $1.70. continued on page 90 2 San Diego Reader October 7, 2010

City Lights

Don Bauder

<b>Under The Radar</b><br /> <br /> Cash and carry A key political ally of San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders has been on the campaign trail for Democratic congressional candidate Francine Busby, who is battling GOP incumbent Brian Bilbray. Jim Waring, who was forced out of his job as Sanders’s land and development planning chief during a scandal over the size of the Sunroad office tower near Montgomery Field, is throwing open his La Jolla home for a Busby fund-raiser on October 11, with ticket prices ranging from $100 to $1000.<br /> <br /> The special guest is UCSD history professor Naomi Oreskes, author of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Event sponsors include investor Murray Galinson and attorney Eugene Iredale…The new “Acting Senior Vice Chancellor—Academic Affairs” at UCSD will be making $350,000 a year, $50,000 more than the previous occupant, thanks to a recent decision by UC regents. Suresh Subramani, a professor of molecular biology, will fill in while a permanent chancellor is sought. Per a report to the regents: “Following Paul Drake’s announcement of his decision to retire from the Senior Vice Chancellor — Academic Affairs position effective October 1, 2010, an extensive national search was conducted for his successor. The top candidate withdrew due to compensation limitations, and there was a lack of consensus on the remaining candidates interviewed. Therefore, a decision has been made to extend the search process and appoint an Acting Senior Vice Chancellor—Academic Affairs to provide continuity of leadership.”<br /> <br /> Summer tripping Democratic congresswoman Susan Davis, who regularly travels the world for free, thanks to junkets staged by the Washington-based, nonprofit Aspen Institute, has been at it again. From August 14 through 21, according to House travel records, she and her husband, Dr. Steven Davis, flew to Vancouver, British Columbia, to stay at the ultraluxurious Four Seasons Resort Whistler hotel during a conference entitled “Transforming America’s Education Through Innovation and Technology.” The gist of the program was that schools need to buy more computers. Among the topics: “What is ‘disruptive innovation’ and how is it different from the kinds of change that characterize American education?” and “Is there a political cost to investing in technology instead of teachers? Is it an ‘either/or’ choice, or do they complement one another?”<br /> <br /> Fellow Democratic congressmembers on the invite list included George Miller, Rush Holt, Pete Stark, Henry Waxman, and David Obey. There was only one Republican: Oklahoma’s Tom Cole.<br /> <br /> Aspen Institute picked up the round-trip travel tab between the Canadian venue and San Diego for both Davis and her husband, $955.68 each, as well as total lodging costs for both with a total of $1125, and total meal expenses for the couple of $1000, according to an August 25 travel disclosure form signed by Davis, which says she and her husband flew coach and that the cost of the room at Whistler was $225 a night…Meanwhile, over on the GOP side of the aisle, a top aide to North County congressman Darrell Issa was off to Brussels from August 29 through September 6, courtesy of the politically influential Bertelsmann Foundation, said to be the biggest nonprofit foundation in Europe, created by members of the famous German publishing conglomerate in 1977. In 2001, a subsidiary of publisher Bertelsmann paid ex-President Bill Clinton a record-smashing $15 million advance for his best seller, My Life.<br /> <br /> According to a statement filed by Kristina Moore, senior counsel to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on which Issa serves, “The meetings and events I participated in were fact finding in nature, with group discussions led by both politicians and practitioners in the fields of US/EU relations and climate change policy. Debate and dialogue by all participants was strongly encouraged and led to a useful exchange of different ideas and perspectives.” Total transportation costs were $1036.90, lodging was $635, and meals were $320, plus $51.68 in taxi and other ground travel, according to the disclosure. — Matt Potter <br /> <br /> <b>How a Pyramid Topples</b><br /> <br /> Pssst! Wanna double your money in one day? Yes, the stock of Actis Global Ventures, based in Carlsbad, soared from $0.0001 to $0.0002 on September 2. Officially, the stock’s price is still $0.00, according to Yahoo.com, which rounds off share prices for investors’ convenience.<br /> <br /> A couple of years ago, Actis got a lot of publicity as one of San Diego County’s booming multilevel marketing companies. Such firms wring money out of salespeople as well as customers. Distributors make money on products they sell, as well as on products that people they recruited into the scheme sell. That’s why multilevel marketing, also known as network marketing, is often called what it is: a pyramid scheme. Over and over, it has been shown that only a small percentage of people in the pyramid make significant money, but the schemes still proliferate.<br /> <br /> San Diego, for example, has other publicly traded multilevel marketing companies. The same week Actis rose to $0.0002, the stock of Ethos Environmental, which sells environmentally friendly oil additives, was quoted at all of 2 cents a share, and F.I.T.T. Highway Products, formerly Who’s Your Daddy, distributor of energy shots (recently moved to Orange County), was quoted at 9 cents. The aristocrat of the bunch, LifeVantage, which makes antiaging products, was trading hands for a less meager 58 cents a share.<br /> <br /> Most of these pyramids don’t make it. Consider Actis. As far as I can determine, $0.00 is a very realistic price for its stock because the company no longer has any operations. The company chief executive, Ray Grimm of Rancho Santa Fe, is a darling of pyramid marketers, as well as San Diego Beautiful People. He owned a palatial home that was used for movie sets. He still lives in the tony Ranch, and folks swoon over his collection of Lamborghinis.<br /> <br /> He’s not so beloved in govern - ment circles. He had been a cofounder of Carlsbad’s USA Inc., which sold supposed health products. Then the Food and Drug Administration said the products were unapproved and misbranded. USA closed and Grimm moved on to Uni- Vite, which hawked diet food from Carlsbad. The company went public by merging into a Nevada shell company, running afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the process. Grimm then moved to still another Carlsbad multilevel marketer, Body Wise. But the Federal Trade Commission charged that the company made deceitful weightloss and cholesterol-reducing claims.<br /> <br /> In the year 2000, Grimm and his wife set up FemOne to peddle so-called nutritional and skin-care products (also from Carlsbad). FemOne stock initially soared, getting to $1.70.<br /> <br /> Four years ago, the name was changed to Actis Global Ventures. The multilevel marketing firm kept selling the products for women and added another wrinkle: gizmos to combat electromagnetic radiation.<br /> <br /> “Electropollution has been linked to everything from headaches and sleeping problems to tumors and cancer,” blared Actis’s website. Cell phones, cordless phones, and computers are the villains, declared Actis. It had its multilevel distributors selling the Biopro cell chip, Biopro universal chip, and neck pendants, among other products, that would purportedly mitigate the effects of electromagnetic radiation.<br /> <br /> One George Carlo, a controversial character who touted his medical expertise, claimed that cell phone radiation disrupted heart pacemakers, harmed children, caused brain damage, and set off genetic changes leading to cancer. At one point, Carlo backed Actis’s products. Later he disavowed his support. My sources say Biopro products were no longer being sold last year.<br /> <br /> But while they were on the market, the products generated lots of controversy. According to a story on neurodiversity weblog, a lady in Brentwood, Tennessee, claimed she ran a detoxification clinic. A Louisiana woman sought treatment for suspected mercury toxicity. She faxed information to the lady running the clinic, who stated that the Louisianan suffered from mercury toxicity, liver and kidney dysfunction, precancerous blood morphology, and parasite infestation. Frightened, the Louisiana woman allegedly paid $8900 up front and traveled to Tennessee, where she was told to have her amalgam dental fillings removed so she could go through treatments. The purported clinician told the Louisianan that her problems were caused by electromagnetic radiation, or electropollution. The Louisianan was told she must purchase — you guessed it — a Biopro device. The alleged clinician was — you guessed it again — one of the salespersons in the Actis multilevel marketing chain. Hmmm.<br /> <br /> Now, still another Carlsbad multilevel marketing company, privately held Gia Wellness, headed by former Actis top executive Alfred Hanser, is selling products that are similar to the Biopro products. And Gia is using prose similar to that used by Actis: “Electromagnetic radiation is constantly all around us,” proclaims Gia in its promotions. “It has been linked to everything from headaches to cancer. Electropollution is emanated by every wired and wireless device you use today.”<br /> <br /> As Actis was coming apart, Grimm cofounded another multilevel company, Cal Nutrisciences, selling purported weightloss products. It was based in the same building as Actis, according to my sources. It has just been sold to Utah-based Xyngular, another multilevel outfit. I was able to reach Grimm’s home; he was there, but he would not call me back to provide information on Actis. Sigh. The largest outside shareholder, according to the most recent (early 2007) records, Joseph V. Caracciolo, won’t get rich on his 1.3 million shares, although he barely paid anything for them. I can’t reach Caracciolo, who, working in real estate from Rancho Santa Fe, went through a long and contentious bankruptcy in the 1990s.<br /> <br /> Grimm had 66.9 million shares and Hanser 11.4 million in 2007. The company never made money, defaulted on its debt, and had an accumulated deficit of $14.9 million. It stopped reporting its results to the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2007, but one big speculator bought several slugs of stock in 2009, and penny stock gamblers still bat the stock around.<br /> <br /> So much for the multilevel- marketing penny stocks. A few such companies have seemingly thrived through the years and have stocks selling in the $25 to $60 range. San Diegan Barry Minkow, the subject of the new movie Minkow, has been exposing the larger multilevel marketing companies through his Fraud Discovery Institute. The rest of his time he serves as senior pastor of Community Bible Church in Mira Mesa. He is a fascinating movie subject because as a young man he perpetrated a huge fraud and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He got religion and got out in 7 years, and he now helps government agencies with fraud detection.<br /> <br /> The stocks of three of the four large multilevel marketing firms he has exposed are selling near their 52-week highs: Usana, Herbalife, and Pre- Paid Legal. A fourth, Medifast, is below its yearly high but doing well. Minkow tries to support his institute by shorting the stocks he exposes — that is, betting they will go down. He has generally broken even on that activity, but his adventures have been very expensive because his targets almost invariably throw lawsuits at him, claiming that his shorting activities are reasons for his probes. So he may stop shorting: “We are considering shifting our business model back to uncovering fraud for free as opposed to the whole shorting of public companies,” he says. “One can literally be sued into silence.”<br /> <br /> <b>Young Men Cause Aggravation</b><br /> <br /> The San Diego planning catchword “infill” might sound nice in quiet hilltop homes. But daily life in the closer quarters below usually means ever noisier conditions. In the interest of more livable neighborhoods, those who make the noise might volunteer to be quieter. The jury is out, however, on the Mission Valley YMCA. The nonprofit is being accused by its neighbors of being a bad neighbor.<br /> <br /> The YMCA came to Friars Road in the western end of Mission Valley in 1980. In that same year, a huge condominium complex called Presidio Place went up next door to the east. At first, the Y’s facilities were concentrated on the western side of its property. Since then, the Y has expanded incrementally, and some of its activities now abut the condominiums. The nearest condo owners have been complaining bitterly to the Y’s management that a new level of noise, not noticeable in the earlier years, has made their lives miserable. And they believe the Y is doing its best to ignore the problem.<br /> <br /> The noise started to increase after a 2003 conditional- use permit by the City allowed the Y to move a small soccer field. The field, first located on the northeast corner of the Y’s property, was moved a little south to make room for a new parking lot. Katherine Whitley, who lives on Presidio Place’s third floor, remembers that, although the original soccer games took place close to Presidio Place, they caused few problems. The main reason, she thinks, was that the lack of adjacent parking kept the number of contests and players to a minimum. It also meant that few spectators and fans of the teams came to the games. But even in 1999, there were occasional problems. One Sunday afternoon, Whitley was entertaining guests in her home. “I had a lot of tall plants on my balcony,” she tells me by phone, “so that I wouldn’t have to look down on the games. But the plants didn’t stop a soccer ball from coming through my open window and into the midst of my guests.” The flying ball destroyed some of the outdoor plants, and Whitley says that the Y was good enough to reimburse her for the damage.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, soccer was becoming ever more popular. By 2008, noise from the games was driving the condo owners crazy. At the start of this year, Whitley and some of her neighbors on the west side of Presidio Place decided to take the problem into small-claims court. There were residents, including Whitley, who had installed specially designed windows to curb the noise.<br /> <br /> A few of the installations had cost as much as $5000. It turned out, however, that the windows did little to soften the raucous sounds of the games, many of which were played until 11 o’clock on weekday nights.<br /> <br /> In small-claims court, Whitley and five participating neighbors each asked for $7500 in damages from the Y, the maximum that can be awarded. The judge refused to award the damages. But there were other concessions that the neighbors sought. They did manage to obtain a court order that the Y take measures to reduce some of the soccer-game noise.<br /> <br /> By phone, I speak with Dick Webster, the Mission Valley YMCA’s executive director. He tells me that to cooperate with the court, the Y ended all Sunday soccer games. It now ends Wednesday night games, he says, at 9:00 p.m. instead of the previous 11:00 p.m. And the Friars Road parking lot now opens at 6:00 a.m. instead of 4:30 a.m. and closes at 11:00 p.m. “We’ve done our very best to work with neighbors and accommodate their concerns,” says Webster.<br /> <br /> But “they’ve only followed through on stopping the Sunday games,” says Whitley. She and her neighbors are especially angry that the Y still does not control its parking lot, as people shout while loitering and drivers squeal in and out until the wee hours of the night. Wednesday night games, say the neighbors, still go well past 9:00 p.m. <br /> <br /> Now a new contingent of neighbors, led by attorney Robert Hyde, plans to take the problem to superior court. Hyde says he resisted getting involved in the first legal action because smallclaims court does not have the authority to issue the Y an injunction to stop the excessive noise. The lawsuit in superior court will ask for just such an order.<br /> <br /> I am sitting on a quiet early Saturday morning with Stuart MacKenzie in his first-floor condominium on Presidio Place’s west side. Robert Hyde, who lives immediately above MacKenzie on the second floor, sits with us. The outdoor soccer field is now within 20 feet of their back windows. Just as close is an expanded playground for small children. “Don’t let the lack of noise fool you,” MacKenzie tells me. “In a few hours, there will be a din back there. I brought the noise problem here to the attention of Sandra Teasley from the City’s planning department. I was probably very insistent. So what she said to me was, ‘Stuart, take ten deep breaths and a Valium.’ Well, that might help for a moment, but it’s not going to stop all the noise we have here.”<br /> <br /> MacKenzie also claims Teasley gave him a curious interpretation of the conditional- use permit. He says he showed her a line in the permit that reads, “All uses except storage and loading shall be conducted entirely within an enclosed building.” According to MacKenzie, Teasley told him, “An attorney would interpret it that way. But that’s not what it means.” When I emailed Teasley for further comment on the sentence, she wrote back, “The existing outdoor soccer field is not subject to that provision.” Of course, what MacKenzie would prefer having next to his bedroom is something more akin to the La Mesa Indoor Soccer Facility. It has a full bubble enclosure over it.<br /> <br /> Hyde sums up the YMCA nuisance. Much of it “is a lot of yelling, a lot of whistleblowing and clapping,” he says. “They have a sign over there that encourages people to make noise, one that says clap and cheer for your team. I’m talking about stuff that wakes you up.” Besides the relocated field, bleachers have now been added.<br /> <br /> The loudest sound, according to Hyde, comes from the soccer balls striking fiberglass walls that enclose the field. “That literally sounds like a bass drum over and over again, every time the ball hits the walls,” he says. “Those balls hit really thin fiberglass panels, which are like the top of a drum. It resonates through the whole neighborhood.<br /> <br /> “And there is screaming of profanities. Soccer is a sport, after all, and being here is like living next to a sports stadium.” Hyde says it is also not unusual for players to leave the field and urinate in the fire lane that’s between the condo building and the Y’s property. “There are children running around out there.” The fire lane is often blocked with vehicles as well, according to Hyde.<br /> <br /> “And they’ve had live rock bands over there,” he says, “with electric guitars and amplifiers, where they’ve played until midnight.” For both the music and the soccer, “They use high-intensity lights that shine into our property.<br /> <br /> “All this activity started off slowly but has escalated to the point now where it’s gotten out of hand. It’s unreasonable. What’s frustrating is the inability of the Y to see our point of view and do something about it. The impact on us is not only things like being unable to have our windows open under any circumstances, but it causes air-conditioning bills to go way up because we can’t have any cross-ventilation. We can’t get quiet enjoyment of our property.” <br /> <br /> When Hyde, MacKenzie, and several of their neighbors go to superior court at the end of October, they will have a section of the California Health and Safety Code to back them up. In part, the code reads as follows: “Excessive noise is a serious hazard to the public health and welfare. Exposure to certain levels of noise can result in physiological, psychological, and economic damage.… All Californians are entitled to a peaceful and quiet environment without the intrusion of noise which may be hazardous to their health or welfare.”<br /> <br /> Money, more than any health factor, may eventually win the day. Gary Jimenez, one of the litigants, doesn’t live at Presidio Place anymore. He rents out his condo on the building’s west side. Jimenez tells me that to entice renters he had to install the specially designed windows that supposedly muffle noise. The tenants complained after the windows did little. They argued they could break their lease unless Jimenez lowered their rent. Jimenez tells me that at one time he had been able to command $1650 to rent out his condo. Now he’s down to $1150.<br /> <br /> Stuar t MacKenzie believes that neither the City nor the Y cares about the nuisance to neighborhood residents. And he argues that stealth was used. He shows me a July 2003 “Notice of Public Hearing” that the City circulated before drawing up the Y’s conditional-use permit later that fall. The notice states that changes at the Y will include removing a tennis court and an “in-line” hockey rink. No mention is made that “an outdoor soccer field” would be moved into their place. That language wouldn’t turn up until October 21, 2003, the date the city council passed the conditional- use permit.<br /> <br /> City Lights<br /> Don Bauder<br /> <br />

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