A little background of my service to the community
My Story: Kathy Yaeko Biala
I come from a humble background in which my father was one of 10 children on the “big island” of Hawaii. He was able to attend college on the GI bill only because of his army service and was accepted to one of the finest universities in the country. He was the only one of the first 5 siblings to graduate high school and was only among two of his siblings to obtain a college degree. My father was in graduate school with a wife and three small children; I went to grammar school on the south side of Chicago in a predominantly black neighborhood. My mother was raised in Japan and came here not speaking English but was determined to raise me and my 2 brothers without a trace of an accent… and she did accomplish this. Regrettably, I am not bilingual as a result! My mother would learn English, graduate from college, and become a Chicago Public School teacher who taught disabled children for decades. My father became a professor at the University of Chicago in biochemistry.
I was raised with a value system of respecting all people and this theme has carried me where ever I have lived and worked, both in choosing diverse work situations or in creating them when I was in the position to hire in my management roles. As a small business owner, I also made the choice to provide good wages and healthcare benefits including vision and dental coverage to employees, even though we were not obligated by law to do so.
I am a retired Master’s prepared nurse and have spent a long career in nursing in the roles of clinician, management and administration, nursing educator at the university level in both private and state universities, a national consultant in home health care, and as a small business owner in medical services. Through nursing, I have effectively worked in all kinds of teams and managed large budgets in hospitals and healthcare organizations. Above all, nursing has taught me the importance of relating to people in all walks of life.
I have an interracial second marriage and our three adult children have all married inter-racially or inter-culturally, with two daughter-in-laws becoming American citizens two years ago, hailing from Croatia and Taiwan, and one daughter-in-law of Mexican-American heritage. Diversity and inclusion are at the core of my family and my community. My husband of 28 years is a veteran of the Viet Nam War in which he served as a Captain in the Medical Corps in Long Binh and Vung Tau.
Marina is the eighth most diverse city in California and on any given block in Marina, we live side by side with people of different colors with many mixed race couples and biracial children. This is why I love Marina so much. Our city is perhaps one of the most harmonious examples of communities respecting, honoring, and celebrating our unique strength of diversity and inclusion. Even with high poverty rates and other socio-economic challenges, Marina has always been a giving, friendly, accepting city that has collectively accomplished enormous civic and charitable actions. This is at the heart of who we are.
What I will bring to the city as a Councilmember
It is my vision that democracy work for all people and give all a voice. First and foremost, I can only be as good a council person as the amount of feedback I receive from the public; I cannot make educated and fair decisions on behalf of my constituents, if I do not know and understand your issues.
I will hear all issues of concern by email, by phone or in person meetings. I intend to directly reach out to the various communities to relay current council agenda items, and will try my best to do so in different languages so that all persons may have access to our local governmental processes. I want our governmental processes to be un-intimidating, easily understood by the public and to welcome input.
We must do better with inclusion of all residents in decisions that affect our city’s future and encourage participation from a much broader sector of our city. This is a difficult task but I believe that more participation of our residents will result in better council decisions. No matter how big or small the issues may be, how complex or simple, how immediate or far into the future, everyone’s opinion can shed important light on the issues facing Marina.
We will experience our first election on a districting basis this November, 2020. I am in District 2 and because Marina is so small, though only District 2 citizens can vote for me, I will consider my obligation and responsibility to represent ALL living in Marina! This I promise!
Marina has been identified as a disadvantaged community with a highly diverse population (64% non-white), higher level of poverty, linguistic isolation, unemployment and housing burden compared to the rest of California. In the best of times, Marina’s economy has been challenging, and now in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, Marina’s residents and businesses are at high risk. I have:
Of Civic Duties
I have been on the Marina Planning Commission since 2016 and am currently the Vice Chair. In my tenure as Planning Commissioner, I have participated in decisions regarding the Dunes Casual Dining (my first project as a commissioner!), the Downtown Vitalization Specific Plan, the Short-Term Vacation Rental ordinance, Coastal Development permits, and the Joby Aviation project, among the many.
This commissioner role has helped me to hear the aspirations of our community both in the larger developments, as well as the myriad of applications that pertain to homes, trees, churches, and small businesses. In weighing-in on all these vital applications, I have come to understand and shape our collective vision and participate in ensuring the best decisions towards those visions.
I am also on the steering committee of the Citizens for Sustainable Marina and man the booth every year at the Earth Day event, handling the legless lizard for children to touch! I am also on the board of the Sierra Club, Ventana chapter, and am a board member of the Marina Chamber of Commerce through which I have contributed strategies to help the business community during the Covid-19 crisis.
I started my civic duties by walking on our beautiful beaches with my husband back in 2015. We noticed that beach access was impeded by water flowing across the beach from a lagoon with an industrial looking boat and pipes. Further research revealed this was the CEMEX sand mining operation, the last active sand mining on any U.S. coast, right here in Marina!
I joined forces with the local Surfrider group and Dr. Ed Thorton who had done years of research on the erosion along the Monterey Bay caused by this enormous extraction of sand. Together, we presented our concerns to the Marina City Council that the City then wrote a letter to the CA Coastal Commission.
I took reporter, David Schmaltz from the Monterey County Weekly to view the site and he broke the front cover story called “Sand Grab” the very next week on Jan. 14, 2016! I hosted staff from the CA Coastal Commission here in Marina and shared my early photos with them; I was part of cultivating interest from the Stanford University Environmental Law group on the Cemex issues that would later result in their helping Marina’s legal case.
After Save Our Shores joined the small activist group, we were off to an effective regional awareness and protest that culminated in a global settlement agreement with Cemex, the CA Coastal Commission, the City of Marina, and the State Lands Commission on July 13, 2017. This was a historic day that Marina could now see the end of commercial sand mining with the extracting of sand to end in Dec. 2020 with the land to be restored on all the Cemex property for conservation and low impact recreation in perpetuity! We all rejoiced to know that our beautiful beaches would be preserved!
And here is the tragedy of all the success of the Cemex Sandmining closure. I quickly learned that on this same property, a company called CalAm had made an agreement with Cemex that would allow them the ability to run pipes for a proposed large desalination project. This Desalination project would build and maintain large cement pads on the Dunes, as well as take groundwater from Marina’s sole source of water and create permanent damage to our sensitive shoreline habitats! And the amazing thing is that Cal Am had no water rights to our water and Marina would not receive a drop of their treated water; it was to be transported to the Peninsula to meet their own water needs.
I was instrumental in forming a local group called Citizens for Just Water that would quickly become the main conduit for Marina residents to educate themselves about the Cal Am project and to rally our citizens to action before the CPUC (CA Public Utilities Commission) and the CCC (CA Coastal Commission) and at many other state and local governmental agencies, including at the State Water Resources Control Board, the Board of Supervisors, and NOAA to prevent this project from being built on our shores. Along with the many dedicated citizen volunteers, I organized many rallies with impressive turn-outs and public comment speakers. Our diverse communities of color showed up and spoke at the CA Coastal Commission which rightly concluded that environmental justice applied to Marina as a bonafide disadvantaged community.
Marina has high poverty rates, a 64% non-white population, and linguistic isolation of our non-English speaking residents and our city shoulders more than our fair share of undesirable regional projects such as landfill, sewage, sand mining, and military toxic plumes. I worked tirelessly, and still do, work alongside the City of Marina and Marina Coast Water District to ensure that Marina’s sole source of water and our beaches that are home to 3 threatened and endangered species are protected from the grasp of Cal Am! Citizens for Just Water met at my home over several years and had regional representation, including Peninsula activists who were also opposing the Cal Am desalination project.
Just Water is a band of committed and hard-working people operating at a grass roots level, wholly as unpaid volunteers, with no funds, and no attorneys. Just Water organized nine public forums at the Marina library for our residents to learn about what Cal Am was proposing to do. Without this, our communities would have been completely in the dark as Cal Am attempts to steal our water! Four Marina residents of which I was one, made two highly effective videos highlighting Marina’s environmental justice issues that were shown at the CA Coastal Commission and many other venues to promote our cause. The Marina Planning Commission of which I am a member, unanimously voted down Cal Am’s request for a Coastal Development Permit and in November, 2019, the Coastal Commission staff report also recommended denial of the appealed Coastal Development Permit. We are still in the throes of the fight for our water and our beaches; perhaps a conclusion could happen this year at the next CA Coastal Commission. My five year involvement and investment in this David and Goliath struggle would be testimony to the power of the “little guy” against all odds, should we prevail. We keep our fingers crossed!
I worked tirelessly, and still do, alongside the City of Marina and Marina Coast Water District, to ensure that Marina’s sole source of water and our beaches that are home to three threatened and endangered species are protected from the grasp of Cal Am!
I have been asked many times over the years by friends, neighbors and Mayor Bruce Delgado to consider running for City Council. I am now ready to do this, knowing that I have developed sufficient experience in local government, feel a great personal commitment to further Marina’s bright future, and have my community express the confidence in me to serve and to represent them, always with their best interests in mind! Please elect Kathy Yaeko Biala for City Council, District 2… a candidate who will serve all people who live in Marina!