City of Pacifica Senior Services bargain-priced weekly indoor rummage sale, Wednesday, September 3, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Pacifica Community Center, Highway 1 at Crespi. This week's sale features ELECTRONICS, along with Elvis Presley and Betty Boop memorabilia. The sale consists entirely of donated reusable items priced very low. All proceeds help support Senior Services. For information, call 650-738-7384.
(left to right) Kate Symonds, Margaret Goodale, and Ranger Nelle Lyons on Linda Mar State Beach
By Ian Butler, Riptide Correspondent
In this slow news cycle, with PCT in disarray as it upgrades to the 21st century, here is a new Wavelength episode to hold you over. It documents the installation of the snowy plover fencing at Linda Mar State Beach, and shines a light on the 20-year struggle to protect these threatened shorebirds. Click for Video
I'm John Keener, Ph.D., research biochemist, small-business owner, and medical writer, now retired. My wife and I have lived in Pacifica for seven years. We were attracted to Pacifica by its many hiking trails, open spaces, and beautiful coastline.
I've made the Highway 1 widening plan the centerpiece of my campaign for Pacifica City Council. The 1.3-mile Caltrans project from the Fassler/Rockaway intersection to just north of the Vallemar intersection would add an additional lane in each direction to the existing four-lane highway.
In doing so, the proposed project would more than double the width of the roadway, from 64 feet to 144 feet, 12 feet wider than a typical eight-lane interstate freeway. Caltrans must acquire all or part of 27 parcels, including residential and business, to accommodate the increased highway footprint. Mature cypress trees lining the existing highway would be removed, and retaining walls up to 22 feet tall would be needed to stabilize cuts into hillsides.
I oppose the widening project because it wouldn't work to reduce traffic congestion during peak commute hours. This is because, at either end of the project, three lanes would merge back to the original two lanes in each direction, causing traffic jams. Other Caltrans widening projects have resulted in similar problems, notably in Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties.
Funded mostly by San Mateo County Measure A funds derived from a half-cent surcharge on sales tax within the county, the current price tag of the Highway 1 widening proposal is estimated at $55 million. I question the use of taxpayer funds without adequate public input. Comments on the Environmental Impact Reports for the widening project that were inconsistent with Caltrans’ vision were rejected.
Caltrans approved its Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) in August 2013. At this point, the decision on widening Highway 1 is a yes or no vote — no modifications are permitted to Caltrans' plan without starting over.
The major hurdle before construction could begin is a formal request by Pacifica City Council to the San Mateo County Transportation Authority for the $55 million needed to fund the project. I think such a request is a waste of taxpayer money on a design that won't alleviate congestion and is out of scale with community needs.
So I oppose funding the Caltrans plan. Instead, I support opening the process to the public and exploring alternative solutions that would effectively reduce traffic congestion on the Highway 1 corridor.
I'm running for one of three open seats on Pacifica City Council in November. More information about my positions on the highway widening and other issues may be found on my campaign website:
According to Canadian developer Sonora Shores* (say what?), Pacifica's scruffy surfer overlook Roberts Road (between Fassler and Crespi) is to become home to something mysteriously branded as Harmony Estates. How's that grab ya?
*Note to the geographically challenged: Sonora is 145 miles east of Pacifica, up in the foothills and not on the shores of any body of water we know of.
"Thanks for maintaining the best blog in Pacifica."(John Keener)
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Pacifica Performances presents cutting-edge Celtic band Coulter, Weed, DiSalvio, Saturday, September 6 at 7:30 p.m., Mildred Owen Hall, 1220 Linda Mar Boulevard, Pacifica, in the building with the colorful mural. This newly formed trio of seasoned musicians from the San Francisco Bay Area has just recorded its first CD. The trio plays traditional and original music from Ireland, Scandinavia, and Galicia, plus some J.S. Bach music, on guitar, fiddle, and cello. Tickets are on sale at the door starting 30 minutes before the show, or in advance at http://www.pacificaperformances.org by Friday, 12 noon the weekend of the show. Seats for six or more can be reserved with Visa or MasterCard by calling 650.355.1882 by Friday, 12 noon. Admission: $20 General; $17 Seniors and Students under 25 with current ID; $15 Members; $12 Senior and Student Members; Youths under 18 are free. Doors open 30 minutes before the show. For more information or a schedule, call 650.355.1882 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Mildred Owen Hall is wheelchair accessible.
Sanchez Art Center’s sixth annual 50|50 Show, with 67 artists selected by juror Jack Fischer, is open. Each artist has created 50 small artworks in 50 days, for an exhibit of more than 3,000 affordable pieces. Sanchez Art Center, 1220 Linda Mar Boulevard, Pacifica. Gallery hours: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. or by appointment. Information: 650-355-1894
PSC attorneys Celeste Langille and Brian Gaffney (Leo Leon photo)
By Peter Loeb, Riptide Correspondent
Pacificans for a Scenic Coast (PSC) has concluded its legal challenge to the Caltrans Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) on the Highway 1 widening.
PSC attorneys Celeste Langille and Brian Gaffney completed their oral arguments at a hearing on August 29. Then City of Pacifica attorney Kevin Siegel presented his oral argument, followed by Caltrans attorney Derek van Hoften. PSC’s attorneys then rebutted.
Langille and Gaffney argued that the project was described as one thing in the draft EIR but became a much bigger project in the final EIR, with huge retaining walls and massive excavations.
They also claimed that Caltrans failed to do a legally required analysis of the project's visual impacts. And they charged that Caltrans did not analyze the project's greenhouse-gas impacts. They also argued that Caltrans improperly limited its analysis of the project's environmental impacts to only the project's footprint, without analyzing impacts on surrounding areas.
Judge Weiner challenged the attorneys on some of their points, but it seemed that she saw the merits of at least some PSC complaints about the FEIR's inadequacy.
At least 22 PSC supporters attended the hearings. Judge Weiner thanked them for being well-behaved during the hearings. The judge has 90 days to deliver her ruling, so the outcome may not be known until the end of November. But a ruling could come much sooner than that.
If the judge decides that some issues raised by PSC have merit, she may require Caltrans to go back and redo the analyses that were found missing. It’s possible that her ruling could require Caltrans to revise and recirculate the EIR, take public comments again, and then respond to those comments in another final EIR.
PSC's lawsuit is unlikely to stop the project, but a second group, Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives (PH1A), is doing a variety of things to stop the project, including trying to get the city to apply for grant money to hire a traffic consultant to evaluate all alternatives for reducing traffic, raising the issue in the current City Council race, and considering a referendum or initiative on the project.
PSC Uses CEQA to Challenge Caltrans Highway 1 Widening EIR
In August 2013, Pacificans for a Scenic Coast (PSC) filed suit against Caltrans under the California Environmental Quality Act. On August 22 and 29, Judge Marie Weiner heard that lawsuit in San Mateo County Superior Court. Judge Weiner now has up to 90 days to issue a ruling.
The lawsuit challenges the adequacy of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Highway 1 widening project. The suit contends that: the project was not adequately described at the time of the EIR, the project is out of scale with Pacifica’s scenic nature, the EIR contains contradictory information on impacts on threatened species, and the EIR does not adequately address adverse impacts of the project.
A PSC spokesman says, “Caltrans has approved a project that will more than double the width of the existing roadway, and encase the highway in 9- to 22-foot-high retaining walls. Pedestrians and bicyclists crossing from west to east or east to west would be challenged in crossing such a wide roadway, which as proposed is completely out of scale for a community the size of Pacifica. There were only two alternatives considered by Caltrans, big and bigger. Bigger was Caltrans’ preferred alternative.”