Pacifican Petitions City for Traffic Safety @ Palmetto/Clarendon
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Schoolteacher to City Council: Invest in Pacifica Beach Coalition

City Council votes June 9 on Pacifica Beach Coalition (PBC) funding. Below is the oral communication that Virginia Szczepaniak (Ocean Shore School teacher and 36-year Pacifica resident) presented at the last council meeting in defense of the $3,000 the city gives PBC for Earth Day and other beach cleanups: 

"The sea defines us. We are a coastal community, a beach town. Our greatest physical asset is the Pacific Ocean (hence the name Pacifica), and the fingers of sand that we call our beaches. Our districts, once whistlestops along the Ocean Shore Railroad, are named after the strand of beaches from Manor to Linda Mar. The sea defines us.

Now, more than ever, the health of the world’s oceans depends on the collective actions of concerned world citizens. I would extend that to say that the financial health of Pacifica is also dependent upon the health of our ocean and its beaches. I am referring to both the water quality and the condition/cleanliness of the beach.

Years ago we as a community acknowledged our asset, and did our part at considerable cost, to build a tertiary treatment plant so that our wastewater would be cleaned up and not pollute our asset. Our visitor-based businesses are serving beachgoers, and those who come to take in the view, visiting our asset.

To borrow a line from Dr. Sylvia Earle, “No Blue, No Green.” The health of the ocean determines the capacity for life on land. If clean and pristine beaches translate into our green, or dollars spent in Pacifica, how can we afford not to support all efforts to maintain our asset?

The Pacifica Beach Coalition, and all of the other environmental and civic organizations that support it, have collectively helped to maintain our asset through volunteerism. The Beach Coalition advocates stewardship, educates the citizenry, and inspires them to act. The coalitio organizes and oversees the thousands of human hours that it takes to maintain an invaluable asset, not once, but week after week, year after year.

Lest we forget our human assets, Lynn Adams, in a labor of love, has acted as point person to educate, organize, and inspire our coastal community and countless organizations to act on behalf of Pacifica. Lynn has partnered with Pacifica’s students to champion the effort to keep our neighborhoods, city streets, waterways, and beaches clean.

Lynn and the Beach Coalition have inspired my students, and their families, your future and current constituents and taxpayers, to be stewards of our greatest asset. She is an Earth Hero and she inspires the children to act like heroes. Lead by example, because actions speak louder than words.

You, the City of Pacifica, couldn’t afford to pay for all of the hours of service that have been dedicated to the environmental health and well-being of our community, under the direction of the Pacifica Beach Coalition. 

Surely you are not so shortsighted or short-funded that you would squander the harnessed energy and resources that are given in kind to the whole of your community under the direction of the Pacifica Beach Coalition.

We citizens of Pacifica want to feel proud of our community and the choices that our representatives make. We work hard on behalf of our home and our environment. You can’t take the ocean out of Pacifica.  See your way clear to support the Pacifica Beach Coalition's mission.

The sea defines us and unites us."


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The Pacifica Beach Coalition cleans up the beach, teaches people about litter, replants the dunes, and has reduced litter overall on Pacifica's beaches and streets.

But perhaps the most important function it serves doesn't get recognized -- and that is the opportunities afforded to everyone, but in particular young people, especially teenagers -- to participate in, contribute to, and learn from society.

Providing constructive activities, and social and learning opportunities, for teens is worth so much more than the tiny amount of money the city spends to fund the Beach Coalition each year.

The tiny amount of funding gives back a thousand more by contributing to the overall health of the community in the cleanup of litter, sure, but more in the constructive activities for teens and other children.

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