2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Jana Herbert <reininthunder@earthlink.net>
Date: 19 May 2003 15:37:24 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: RE: [CPEO-MEF] Life Cycle Costs and Military Housing

LOL...Dick you always amaze me with your insight and analysis of just
about anything.  You have presented two issues here:  base privitization
and UXO.

I have been following Beale AFB's move toward base housing privitization
because one of the three selected lands for expansion backs up to my
fenceline and leaves no barrier from ME and the base.  The contract that
has been thrown out there for bid gives the winner rights to this
property for 50 years for $1.00.  It has been explained several ways in
the newspaper/s,
but, the bottom line the way I understand it is, once the contract is
awarded, the developer can do whatever they want, provided it follows
some of the stipulated military guidelines.  What has not been addressed
in the contract bid package, unless it has been revised since I asked,
is the UXO issue on Beale land.  This leaves any UXO problem on any of
the three pieces
of land undisclosed to the contractor and consequently, should that land
and the subsequent homes to be built ever be made available to the
public at large, the UXO will never had been made public or the issue
addressed.  The military is a secretive outfit...and, I have found them
to be less than happy when approached about something maybe they might
have missed on
their list of things to include in a contract or DEIR.  Too, they were
less than receptive to my concerns about their 'encroachment' on MY
space and as a private citizen, which seems extremely contradictory
considering how much
they want the outside public to not encroach on them.  In addition, with
the US' now very active military, I would think the lack of a
barrier/buffer zone, between THEM and US would have immediatey knocked
the idea of throwing the land out my back door out of the contract bid
package.  Yes, I have voiced in writing, over the phone, and in person
my concerns about this; for
god's sake after 9/11 there were mini-tanks patrolling the border or my
property/their property.

So, the next step will be someone will be awarded the contract.  My
hunch is that a big company outside the city and county limits will get
the contract because Yuba County is small; thus, the bulk of any profit
not going back into the County.  The next thing that will happen is
sub-contracting. That's where YC may see something back into our

The biggest problems with this process is quality control.  This is
where your concerns with local government participation becomes more
important.  I think you have a valid point that local governments need
to be involved in base privitization on nearly all levels, while I will
say I have not been happy with YC's lack of smart planning and/or
backstepping when they
might have made a mistake.  But, possibly, the building inspectors and
other control agents are better.  One huge risk I see with housing
privitization and a community not getting involved, is future lawsuits
and who is accountable once the land/houses are released to the civilian

The military could have opted for career paths for their enlisted in
contracting, but they haven't as far as I know.  As it is, they have
contracted out on much/most of their own base projects, but they monitor
the military base projects closely.  It is my feeling that once the
housing contracts are awarded, the military will back out of most the
quality control, other than was is specified on the contract...as long
as it meets their minimal needs.  When you get into a contractor
sub-contracting, you
lose the union concept and are then into scab labor, which could be good
or bad.  You could get great or extremely poor labor with scabs who are
not paid enough and have no benefits or you could get good or mediocre
labor where the employees are protected in many facets.  It has been my
observations in my former career with the State, that the
sub-contracting breaks down into underpaid employees doing less quality
work, which goes over budget/timeframe.  In the end, the company that is
awarded the contract never really oversees who does the work on the big
projects.  It would be nice if 'something' was in place where there are
safeguards for the military, the county, and the potential civilian
future homeowners.

Which brings me to my main issue with the UXO at the moment from a RAB
member and an 'everydayjoe' living in Wheatland having bought land
without knowing it was a former bombing range is:  how do we make a
developer, such as Gallelli with Yuba Highlands, accountable for a
viable UXO clean-up.  The DEIR will not be out for 5/6 weeks, but I
suspect UXO will be washed down because of the overall attitude of
everyone who has spoken publicly about YH's.  When you say that we have
not proven there needs to be a clean-up, I personally believe that we
don't need to prove that it needs to be cleaned up...the UXO has spoken
for itself in places such as Camp Elliott and other places where UXO has
been found that may have not blown anyone up, but could have should it
have been run across by someone unknowingly.  The USACE has taken on the
task of identifying, surveying, and attempting a long range plan for
removal all around the World where we (the USA) have left a
mess from past military installations, etc.  And, the military takes on
the role of clean up at their own bases as they see fit.  But, as is the
case with former Camp Beale, the land was sold off with no regulations
in place and no bonafide clean up...leaving people like myself to find
out about it after purchase.  Now, would  Andy and I bought this place
had we known. The answer is yes, but for a reduced amount a money and we
would have been informed before we started plugging holes into the
ground for posts.

We would have had the option to survey ourselves, wait for the USACE to
survey, or do what most of us are doing, putting the auger into the
ground now on the presumption the auger, if it hits an UXO, will push it
out of the way and not detonate it.  But, we could make that decision;
like what it use to be like before the seat buckle laws; we had the
choice to take our lives into our hands when we got behind the wheel of
car.  At this point, Andy and I have no choice if we want to improve our
land, but we did have the choice some year+ later after purchasing this
land, to have our land surveyed. Also, Andy and I have no small children
up here, while others who do and are 'aware' of the UXO situation, are
very upset.  Prior to purchase, we had no
choice because we were lied to.  Further, while the option to sue was
available a year after finding out, the minimum costs for sueing with an
attorney was $40,000, which then made that a moot subject.  While YH's
has a whole other set of problems, in general, I don't believe it is
fair to put houses in an area that has not been at the very least
completely surveyed and every possible attempt made to clean up
potential UXO.  I feel the same way about any kind of contaminant in the
ground, left by the military or anyone else.  This also brings to mind
the potential problems of future civilian homeowners and Beale AFB's
current TCE and Perchlorate plumes popping up.  Who is responsible
once/if Beale leaves these houses to be sold to the community; who is
responsible if problems such as ground water contamination becomes an

These developers do not have the decency to explain to a potential buyer
the 'real' dangers which may lay beneath the ground they buy.  People,
in general, cannot fathom the risks...this has been my appreciation of
my neighbors.  Until someone actually dies in the very area that we
live, they cannot grasp the actual magnitude of UXO dangers and/or they
do not want to know; what you don't know won't hurt you syndrome.

Which then brings me to the issue of who is responsible when a land
owner turned developer sells homes on property with potential UXO risks.
When/who has the responsibility to make sure that these developers,
who's foremost goal is to make money by any means in my mind, go ahead
and do their thing; build, sell, and leave the area.  In my mind, places
like YH's
responsibility falls in the hands of those who can stop it, the Board of
Supervisors.  So far, Hal Stocker is the only one has seems to
comprehend this and the issue of encroachment on Beale AFB with YH's.
BTW, I have attached the last letter The Sacramento Bee published
written by me about Yuba Highlands.

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