Pacifica Chamber of Commerce: "Pay Up or Git Out!"
Pacifica's Future: The Outdoor Recreation "Industry"

Pacifica Chamber of Commerce Tax Return: Bad News

By Larry Rosenstein, Riptide Correspondent

To go with Lionel's recent op-ed here on Riptide about the Chamber of Commerce, click the link below for a copy of the chamber's 2010 IRS tax return, the latest available online at Guidestar. (The chamber usually has filed its tax returns in the fall, so the 2011 copy isn't available online yet.) 

The bottom line is that in 2010 the chamber lost $68,451 (Line 18), almost half of its total assets as of the start of 2010. It also had a loss in the previous two years, although it was much smaller: $19,499 in 2009 and $11,747 in 2008. It will be interesting to get the 2011 numbers and see if the losses continue. But if the chamber is still losing that much money, it could explain why it is increasing its fees, although I think that may backfire if a lot of people drop their membership.



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What the city can't seem to do, the chamber can't do either.

I find it a bit ironic and a bit humorous that the people who led the city into this fiscal crisis are complaining about the Chamber of Commerce losing money.

I hear nothing from these people about:

1. The fire department merged with Daly City for financial cost cutting reasons.

2. The police department being studied to be taken over by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department.

3. The city having only two weeks payroll in reserves.

Hypocrisy at its best.

@ Jay Bird: It ain't just a mammoth tooth. Ian and his friends have several very interesting fossils.

The chamber should have its office open when visitors are here, not when it wants to. When you visit Wine Country, you will find visitor information booths staffed on the weekend. The city does somehow fund that -- not sure how much cash they lay out.

The mammoth tooth is just one display they could have there on a rotating basis, perhaps.

Ha, seriously? Not open on weekends when we actually have visitors? I suspect the aversion to a Mammoth exhibit at the center has more to do with not wanting to impede development with one more pesky reason like archeology discovery. As it happens, while reading the minutes from the widening Project Development Team, Ian's discovery caused quite the internal scare and required additional studies. I doubt the chamber wants to further the educational, cultural, or intellectual development of any visitor young or old when compared to the prospect of developing land.

The chamber as an NGO that receives public money is the poster child of unethical, as it routinely wades into the political realm for no other reason than furthering its ideological goals. Highly unethical. Now that the chamber has created a PAC that diverts member dues, I think it's time to stop funding them with our public money.

Ian is correct about the visitors center being closed on the weekends. There are brochures in the lobby, but those aren't even available to visitors on Sundays because the building is locked since the businesses are all closed Sundays.

Even when it's open during the week, it's no longer very inviting as a visitors center because the furniture was rearranged to look more like an office. The comment about not wanting kids tells you how seriously they take the visitors center part of their activities.

The visitors center isn't open on weekends. When I asked them if they would like to put a mammoth display there, I was told that they didn't want to attract kids.

Thanks, Peter, for giving intelligent, accurate information based on facts.

I stand corrected. Thanks for setting me right.

The Chamber of Commerce receives $10,000 to defray the cost of operating the Visitors' Center at Rockaway Beach.

On February 11, 2013, the City Council voted to give the chamber $5,000 for the second half of its funding for the fiscal year, but several council members indicated that this may be coming to an end.

Mike O'Neill thought that the council should cut the Visitors' Center funding or, at the very least, have an accounting of what the money was used for, noting that the center appears to be closed on weekends -- the very time when most visitors would make use of such a service.

Sue Digre mused that it was perhaps time for the Visitors' Center to "fly on its own," and she, too, wanted some accountability given the weekend closures.

As Peter mentions, Monday's Agenda Item #5 will be the exploration of these accountability policies and standards.

The council should bird-dog the chamber funding very closely, as I'm hearing stories about the visitors center not being open at convenient hours, and local merchants being accosted by frustrated tourists, who want info that they can't get from a closed visitors center.

The chamber receives city funds. There is an item on this coming Monday's Council meeting agenda to discuss reporting requirements for organizations that receive city funds, including the chamber.

From the agenda memo:

SUBJECT: Council Subcommittee on Reporting Requirements for Non Governmental Organizations that
Receive City Funding

BACKGROUND/DISCUSSION: At the February 11, 2013 Council meeting there was discussion regarding the lack of formal reporting requirements for Non Governmental Organizations (NGO's) that receive funding in the City Budget. The NGO's include the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce, Pacifica Community Television, Pacifica Beach Coalition and the Pacifica Resource Center. All of these groups provide informal reports and information to the Council but there are no standards on what information should be reported.

At that meeting it was suggested that the Council form a subcommittee to examine the issue and consider the development of reporting requirements. The subcommittee would be able to examine what other cities use and perhaps define standards for Pacifica. Such requirements could be set as a part of the Budget adoption in June.

Dan, the city does provide funds directly to the chamber.

The chamber receives a $10,000 annual stipend from the taxpayers for the visitors center in Rockaway Beach. Whether it's money well-spent or whether the chamber does a good job of maintaining said visitors center are other questions that should be asked.

I think the chamber supports itself. I don't think Pacifica contributes to the chamber. I appreciated that the local chamber broke with the national group as the corruption in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce renders it anti-business, at least anti- the kinds of businesses that employ most employed Americans. For me, having been a not very active member of the Pacifica chamber for maybe a couple of years, I am not sure that our interests match up all that well. I have got some work through the chamber's little book, but most of my work comes through personal referral. Blind support of anything that calls itself a business is absurd. I am not sure that is what our local chamber is actually about, so don't take that as an accusation, but "bedroom-community" is NOT (you are hearing this from a plumbing contractor who makes his living designing, building, and maintaining plumbing systems, an integral part of almost any building) an industry. Pacifica needs industry. I can and do make money from working on residential housing in Pacifica, but more housing drains the city's economy rather than building it. What little land remains needs to be deployed in such a manner as to have a positive effect on our city's economy whenever possible. Granted, those property owners who have properties that are already zoned as residential should not have their rights violated, but we don't need to accommodate every carpetbagger who wants to build 355 housing units on land that is zoned for considerably less than that.

What I meant to say here was, no, I don't think the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce receives any city money.

The taxpayers are funding the chamber's visitors center to the tune of $10,000 per year. How effective is it? Ask the surrounding businesses, which are asked by tourists for information when the chamber is closed.

Thanks for posting this.

Isn't Pacifica funding the Chamber of Commerce? How much does the City of Pacifica pay out to the chamber? For what? It does not make sense that Pacifica taxpayers should be funding the chamber, from several standpoints. Here's one more.

Thanks, Larry.

Courtney (the chamber's new Don Eagleston) tells me that Don's salary was augmented by the chamber phone book, meaning that he was paid additional funds for preparing it for print. That's where the $120,000 figure for Don's overall compensation package came from, according to the current chamber CEO.

Don Eagleston left the chamber in early 2010. (It turns out he is the CEO of the Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce now, which seems to be doing fine.) The 2009 return was filed in the fall of 2010 after he had left.

Regarding Todd's comment, Don's salary+benefits in 2008 was reported as $103,799, and in 2009 it was $90,232. In 2010, Courtney Conlon's salary was $40,833, but that was for a partial year.

Looking at the 2009-2010 tax returns (thanks, Larry!), Courtney Conlon is named both years as being in charge of the books. Eagleston was gone in the 2010 tax return, and the chamber had a huge decline in revenue, $60,000, or more than 20 percent of its gross! The book (directory) was a disaster that year, as it was farmed out to a firm that screwed it up bigtime.

We'll see how this new policy of excluding people who don't join up works for the chamber. I think it is taking a big chance in this tough business environment. It would seem we should try working together rather than separately, but control seems to be more important to the current chamber board.

Don's salary was in the $120,000 range.

I'm not in the Chamber of Commerce, so I don't know for sure, but wasn't Don Eagleston running the CoC back then? I know a lot of chamber members were very unhappy with him, and this could have been one of the reasons he was forced out.

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