Budget discussion begins @ Adobe pages 548/624
By Lionel Emde, Riptide Correspondent
Pacifica City Council's agenda packet for the June 9 meeting was a long one, but if you read only one thing in it, it should be our new City Manager Lori Tinfow's budget report. In it, she details things such as:
§ Fund 25, Parking In-Lieu Fund. "This fund holds developer fees paid for meeting parking requirements in-lieu of building the actual parking required for a project. Of note here is that in November 2012, a sizable portion of the funds held ($308,000) was mistakenly included in information reported to the State of California as part of the Redevelopment Agency and transferred to the State. While unfortunate, such mistakes are not surprising given the high level of confusion for cities trying to meet changing State requirements surrounding the elimination of Redevelopment Agencies. The City will be requesting the return of the funds from the State in the next fiscal year."
And even better is the loan that time forgot: § Fund 09, Street Construction Fund. "This fund loaned approx. $2.2 million to Fund 22 in 2003. So far, staff has not discovered any repayment of the loan to date so the entire amount is shown as an “outstanding receivable” or “amount due” to the fund. Should we find evidence of any payment, an adjustment will be made."
Then there is deficit spending, which municipalities aren't supposed to engage in: § Fund 22, General Capital Improvement Fund. "In this fund, there are two items of note. First is the deficit shown at the end of each fiscal year-as of June 2014, the amount totals approx. $1.08 million. The City has been spending on projects that are not fully funded. Second, in parallel to Fund 09, the interfund loan of $2.2 million is shown here as well, as an 'outstanding loan repayment obligation.'"
I think these are the most logical questions I've heard from a public official in a long time: Fixing the Fund Deficits and Getting a Second Opinion. "A natural question after reviewing the All Funds Budget Summary (Attachment 2) and adding together the deficits would be “how did we get here?” While staff is still collecting history to better understand the answer to this question, our primary focus at this time is 'How are we going to fix this?' and the answer to this question is where I plan to focus most of my attention."
But the sum total of past fiscal mismanagement is staggering: "… the approximately $4 million total deficit shown across several funds is a problem that isn’t required to be fixed overnight. The City will continue to meet its obligations and City services will continue to be provided. …These deficits surfaced over the past few weeks in large part because of a new approach to presenting this information... As such, I have not had adequate time to fashion a complete plan to correct a problem that has likely been years in the making."
No kidding. Seven years to be precise, since our last finance director was shown the door by council, and an interim city manager going out the door. It's hard to know what went on, because apparently no one knew what they were doing. Tinfow states that she'll have to hire more outside financial help to figure out what's going on.
One of the best things council has done is to hire Tinfow as city manager. Her documents, methodology, and language are clear and straightforward. And council members should be hanging their heads in shame at what has been revealed – it's inexcusable.
REDWOOD CITY – Today, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution to establish California’s first county or city commission focused on the needs of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community.
“This commission will further the cause of inclusiveness, create a resource to help inform future policy decisions affecting the LGBTQ community, and serve as a model for counties and cities in the State,” said Board President Dave Pine, the sponsor of the resolution to establish the commission.
In February of 2014, members of the San Mateo County LGBTQ community came together to request that the Board of Supervisors establish a San Mateo County LGBTQ Commission in order to improve the quality of life and well-being of LGBTQ County residents. In the ensuring months, at the direction of Supervisor Dave Pine, county staff worked with community representatives to develop guidelines for the commission and to define its potential goals.
"A perception exists that the LGBTQ folks in the Bay Area only flock to major urban cities like San Francisco or San Jose. But in reality, San Mateo County is home to a large number of LGBTQ citizens who currently lack a centralized body to express their needs to their local government,” said Jason Galisatus, past president of the Bay Area Youth Summit and the primary community activist who worked to establish the Commission. “I advocated to create this commission as it will provide a forum for developing collaborative solutions to the problems LGBTQ people face."
The Commission will have nine voting members appointed by the Board of Supervisors to serve three-year terms. The Commission will meet at least six times a year, implement a yearly work plan, and provide recommendations to the Board of Supervisors at least once a year.
Board of Supervisors President Dave Pine
Supervisor Adrienne Tissier
Contacts for the LGBTQ Commission working group representatives:
Rev. Terri Echelberger
Peninsula Metropolitan Community Church
Former Executive Director, Bay Area Youth Summit
President, Peninsula Stonewall Democratic Club
Four years ago I reached out to local Pacifica officials in an effort to have a crosswalk installed at the intersection of Palmetto and Clarendon by Sharp Park Golf Course.
As most residents are aware, this intersection provides access to a park, the beach, and Mori Point. It is also the path that many residents take to get to the 7-11, the Pottery Shop, as well as other small businesses in the area.
There are currently two crosswalks in that area. One crosswalk is a block away in one direction and almost three blocks away in the other direction, therefore, most pedestrians just cross the streets wherever and whenever the traffic allows.
The traffic is heavier now on Palmetto and Clarendon, especially during rush hour, weekends, and most sunny days. Currently, a Highway 1 exit sign points to the direction for coastal access (which is to cross the Palmetto/Clarendon intersection).
Four years ago the city engineer’s office responded to my inquiry. I was told that the intersection didn’t warrant enough traffic. My response was that I’ve never seen anyone or any meters counting vehicles.
I was told that crosswalks give a false sense of security to pedestrians when there is no stop sign. My response was that there are a number of crosswalks in Pacifica without stop signs, for example, the crosswalk one block away by 7-11 or the crosswalk by Eureka Square, or the lighted crosswalk at Manor by Tam’s Restaurant, just to name a few.
The city engineer’s office even said that there have NOT been any known casualties at that location. It was then that I realized the dialog had ended. Since then, Palmetto has undergone a major project putting in underground cables.
Although it seems that this would have been an opportune time to paint the street, nothing happened. Since then there have been several Fogfests, bike races, beach cleanup groups, and running events, all of which pass THAT intersection.
I have watched people walk their dogs, and children ride their bikes across this intersection. I’ve witnessed "close calls" between seniors on mobile scooters and motorists at this intersection. And I’ve seen horseback riders cross the street to ride on the sandy berm.
This month, I reached out to local officials again. I received an encouraging response from a City Council member that the city should re-evaluate the practices in determining when, how, and by whom the traffic count takes place.
I’m not sure whether anything will change at this intersection, but I am calling upon the good people of Pacifica who are familiar with this beautiful area to support this effort. We want to be proactive about this effort and not wait for a tragedy like the rip current warning signs at the beach that were deemed necessary only after people had drowned.
For the safety of pedestrians as well as bicyclists and motorists, I ask that everyone request that the City of Pacifica install a crosswalk to enable pedestrians to cross Palmetto Drive at Clarendon Road. I believe it is in our best interest to not only increase pedestrian safety, but also to create a broader mission to have livable streets and develop a cultural "share-the-road" mind-set in Pacifica.
Along with pavement markings, it is requested that signage notifying drivers of the presence of pedestrians and possibly improved lighting in the vicinity be added as well. Marked crosswalks are used to raise driver awareness of pedestrian crossings and direct pedestrians to preferred crossing points.
Please join other residents who believe increased infrastructure enhancements could better protect our community. If it is determined by officials that un-signalized intersections are a breeding ground for bad motorist behavior, then a crosswalk with a light system or stop sign is requested.
Pacificans and visitors deserve an option considered to be safe, accessible, and comfortable for walkers, the disabled, cyclists, and motorists, whether it be to access the bus stops, coastal recreational areas, and/or the local neighborhood businesses. We are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to act now to give this issue priority attention.
SAMOS says: Here's a starter list of questions to ask Pacifica City Council candidates in the upcoming November election. Add your own questions to the list.
1. Other than family members, who are the top three financial contributors to your campaign?
2. No City Council members told us when they ran last time that they would try to raise our taxes. Would you seek another tax hike?
3. Did you support the purge of the Planning Commission? If so, why?
4. What changes do you want in a revised General Plan? Do you think Pacifica should promote more housing?
5. Do you think that alternatives to widening Highway 1 should be studied before City Council votes on widening Highway 1?
6. How would commuters get to and from work during the widening if lanes were closed during construction?
7. Why do you want to be on City Council?
The Coastside Democratic Club elected a new progressive board on May 22.
Coastside Dems Elect Activist Board
"In the past, the City has indicated to some, if not all, of these groups that funding would likely be discontinued in the future and that the group should work to find other funding sources. A summary follows:
Library JPA (extra hours) $75,000
Pacifica Resource Center $83,000
Chamber of Commerce (visitor center) $10,000
Pacifica Beach Coalition $3,000
The recommended budget under discussion tonight does not include funding for these organizations next year. Each of these group’s services are highly valuable to the community and this recommendation is no reflection on the quality of the services or activities they provide nor the appreciation that the City has for their efforts -- it’s just a result of our limited resources. All the organizations have been alerted that their funding would be discussed during the budget process." (May 12, page 220: COUNCIL AGENDA)
Pacifica Resource Center's funding represents approximately .003 percent of the General Fund. That's three one-thousandths of the fund. Yet the city has large pension bond obligations, and it plans to borrow money from the sewage treatment plant enterprise fund, designated for plant replacement, in the form of a loan, to refinance some of this debt.
It seems creative financing is good for the city's work force -- why isn't it good for the public?
Pacifica has a 24 percent poverty rate. The Resource Center is able to leverage the $83,000 contribution from the city more than six times over from other funders, due largely to legitimacy gained from municipal support.
A budget cut to the Resource Center will affect thousands of people here. The bonds that the city is refinancing might affect a couple of hundred people.
What is the purpose of government, and whom does it really serve?
By Nicole David, Marine Biologist
We are extremely fortunate in San Mateo County to live on the shore of the beautiful Pacific Ocean, which provides a bountiful supply of fresh local seafood that offers excellent nutrition and a low carbon footprint.
The fishing industry it supports greatly benefits the county economy, including Pillar Point Harbor's many fishing families; stores, markets, and restaurants that sell fish; recreational fishermen; tourism; and more.
The San Mateo County Harbor District also benefits directly from revenue generated from these activities. Unfortunately, the district mismanages this source of revenue. The district has imposed the highest fees in California on the companies that buy fish from fishing boats and then distribute them to stores, markets, and restaurants.
Ultimately, these high fees are passed on to consumers. These high fees also reduce profits for fishing businesses, and drive fishing boats to offload their catch at rival ports in San Francisco and Monterey.
In response to sharp criticism by fishermen and the public last year, the district limited public participation by suspending video coverage of its biweekly meetings—a decision it reversed eight months later.
The district should work to promote this valuable and sustainable sector of our economy. The district should reconsider its fee structures to promote (rather than discourage) use of its facilities, provide fair treatment of all fishing companies on Johnson Pier, and make decisions in the public interest by soliciting and carefully considering public input.
By Tom Clifford, Special to Riptide
City of Pacifica staff proposes that we borrow $2.1 million over three years from the wastewater treatment fund (Enterprise Fund).The proposed use of this borrowing is to pay off the pension obligation bond. Wasn’t this bond just refinanced in 2010?
The fund was set up to repair and replace the wastewater treatment system starting in 2020. The fund also owes $21 million in state loans payable by 2022, and another $11 million in bond obligations.
The fund now has the additional burden of being the primary source of funding for the $50 million judgment under the Clean Water Act (to correct conditions that led to a sewer spill on Linda Mar Beach).
This is the same fund that was plundered by City Council for years until the courts put a stop to it: $750,000 a year was transferred to the General Fund. That money has never been paid back.
City Council has a terrible record with paying back internal loans. Council loaned the Rockaway Beach Redevelopment Agency $6.5 million from the General Fund, and for years the agency found reason after reason not to repay that money. When the state took over the agency, Pacifica taxpayers lost.
Even if council does set up a repayment program, the Enterprise Fund will not have sufficient money left in it to meet all its obligations in a timely manner. The net result will be that our already high sewer fees will go much higher. Local businesses, hotels, and restaurants will see sewer bills that could put them out of business.
Homeowners on fixed incomes could find themselves unable to pay their property taxes and could lose their homes (sewer fees are collected as part of the total property tax bill).
Please contact your council members and say NO to this unwise plan.
Len Stone 650-355-5700
Mary Ann Nihart 650-359-7624
Karen Ervin 650-483-2692
Mike O’Neill 650-302-2470
Sue Digre 650-278-1606
"Caltrans' plan to widen Highway 1 is not good for Pacifica. It will cause more problems than it will solve. I support pursuing a combination of alternatives that can improve traffic congestion on Highway 1 and that will be less damaging to Pacifica."
In all my years on the Pacifica Planning Commission, I never saw a more useless map (click link above to see project proposal). Therefore, I have added a third page, highlighting as best I could figure out (having seen the dog-and-pony-show drawings presented to us earlier) to make it more readable. It bears no resemblance to what we were shown, so some of the highlighting is guesswork.
Reading the first page, you get some numbers in absolute contradiction to the neighbor-friendly drawings shown to us quite some time ago: 16 houses on the ridge, not five or six. Farther down Gypsy Hill Road, 10 more houses; then even farther down, 16 below-market homes (required by law to include affordable housing). A "paper road" would have to be paved.
This is a grossly larger development than we were originally presented with, and in my personal opinion, the intent was to placate the neighbors into thinking this was no big deal so there would be no opposition. One of the “selling” points to our community was that the Campagnas themselves would be the architects, with their intimate respect for the community and environment.
Here is the truth, which I have heard directly from an inside source: The Campagnas do not have the money to develop this project. They hope to get all permits in place so they can sell to some outside company that will obviously build it to make a profit. Adamo Campagna would like to be the architect, but there is nothing to say that this would happen or what that would really mean, anyway.
Another glitch in the plan is that the required noticing area does not include the people on the hillside across the valley of Brighton (e.g., Talbot), who would be the most visually impacted, but because of the code, are not required to be noticed.
Additionally, there is the reality of a history of mudslides on this hill. Because we have had no hard winters in a long time, that may have faded into recent memory. But at the top of Brighton (under Grace’s Vista Point) is a very steep, bare hillside, which has repeatedly slid in wet winters.
After the recent disastrous news from Washington state, where a massive mudslide occurred where they knew mudslides had occurred in the past, how dare we put people at risk? For those on Brighton, whose backyards face the steep hill but have so far been protected by the dense vegetation, what will excavation do to the stability of the hill? The proposed houses are large and set somewhat downhill, dug into the hillside; the extent of excavation required is of major concern.
I’m not even going to go into the various species of wildlife that live here, including many varieties of birds in particular, at the risk of being labeled some kind of environmental extremist.
If any of this matters to you, please talk to City Council and the Planning Commission. Now is not the time for apathy.
BJ Nathanson, Former Pacifica Planning Commissioner
"My experience shows that when people try to scare you into supporting something, it often means that the rest of their arguments are weak, and/or they have hidden agendas. Be aware, and beware."
State Senator Jerry Hill—joined by San Bruno City Manager Connie Jackson and Mark Toney, executive director of The Utility Reform Network (TURN)—announced at an April 11 press conference in San Francisco that California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey has accepted gifts totaling more than $230,000 in international travel and spent more than 200 days on these trips since he was appointed commission president in 2003, according to the filing of statements of economic interest with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).
The account of Peevey’s declared travel came a week after Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), which contributed to the nonprofit that funded most of Peevey’s trips, was indicted on 12 federal criminal counts resulting from the 2010 gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed a San Bruno neighborhood.
Last year, a consultant’s report commissioned by the CPUC revealed that staff members said they do not believe the commission makes safety a top priority and blame a workplace culture that gives regulated industries too much "access to the PUC building, documents and personnel."
Hill’s Senate Bill 831, which addresses several ethics issues, includes provisions that would prohibit elected and appointed officials from accepting more than $5,000 a year in travel-related gifts from nonprofits, and would require nonprofits providing travel-related gifts to disclose to the Fair Political Practices Commission the name of the donors paying for the travel expenses.
Hill also announced that in the wake of the gun-trafficking and bribery indictment of Senator Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, Hill is amending SB 831 to prohibit elected officials from using campaign funds to pay legal bills in criminal cases.
I notice on the Nextdoor website that the City of Pacifica and the Pacifica Police Department have opted not to enable Nextdoor readers to comment about their posts.
All I would ask them to do is not to send us messages that we (a) already know, (b) don't already know but don't need to know, and (c) don't already know but easily could figure out.
And what's funny is that the city doesn't see anything wrong with that. It says in its opening post, without the slightest hint of irony: "Initially the City will focus in on one-way communication..."
Y'know, the more I think about it, I'm really opposed to the City of Pacifica intruding on our Nextdoor website. It's really isn't in the spirit of Nextdoor. The County of San Mateo has a perfectly good notification system that doesn't involve hitching its wagon to anyone else's. Apparently the City of Pacifica is unable to do the same. If you disagree, just wait for those emails about "Safe Driving Week" and, worse, subtle messaging when city resources and salaries are on the line.
Daly City’s City Council has passed a resolution to call on the state legislature and governor to ban clearcut logging in California, making it the first city in San Mateo County and the wider Bay Area, and the second city in the state, to pass the resolution. The City of Davis has passed a similar resolution. The resolution highlights negative impacts of clearcutting on climate and water.
Daly City’s Water Department offers free water-saving devices, rebates, and school programs for residents, commercial users, and students. The city also has a climate action plan to reduce its carbon footprint.
“I am delighted to partner with the Sierra Club in making sure that the governor and the California legislature take immediate action to prohibit industrial clearcut logging in the forests of California,” said David Canepa, mayor of Daly City. “I am also proud that Daly City is the first city in the Bay Area to demonstrate such leadership.”
A growing movement of communities, environmental groups, and fishermen's alliances is calling on the governor and state legislature to end clearcutting in California and to ensure that logging in California is done in a way that will preserve and protect fish, wildlife, forests, streams, and carbon sequestration.
Clearcutting is an ecologically destructive form of logging in which nearly all native vegetation is removed, soils are deep-ripped, and herbicides are applied across the landscape. It harms water quality and wildlife habitat, and exacerbates climate change. It replaces diverse forests with tree farms that can have a higher risk of catching fire. Timber can be harvested using a less destructive method known as selective logging (see top photo above), which involves carefully planned removal of some trees while leaving the overall forest intact.
What happens in the forests – especially in the Sierra Nevada – is important to Bay Area cities. Some 60 percent of Bay Area water is stored in and filtered through Sierra forest watersheds, and 15 percent comes from the forested Santa Cruz Mountains. At least 15 percent of California’s carbon dioxide emissions are sequestered by California forests, and clearcutting both reduces the amount of carbon that forests can retain, and releases excess greenhouse gases.
Photos (above): selectively harvested forest (top), clearcut (bottom)