It’s interesting that Pacificans want Pacifica to remain beautiful, in good shape financially, and its infrastructure intact. Folks see that happening in different ways. Most people who live here stay because they want the open space and to be away from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco or Daly City. In fact, I know one person who says we Pacificans are spoiled because our town is so beautiful – that made me smile.
We don’t need to fill up our “empty space” with buildings in hopes that businesses will come here and stay. We have empty business spaces, for instance, Eureka Square. I’ve been told that rents there are very high; rumor has it the owner wants to sell that or build condos, but who knows. We do need more business, but basic businesses that will stay, not simply niche businesses. Niche businesses are good and fun, too, don’t get me wrong.
Folks who think that building is the answer to our problems should ask themselves why they think empty space is “wasted” space. Someone actually said that to me. If buildings attract business, then why do we have empty storefronts? If that’s true, then just move up to Daly City or SF.
As for widening Highway 1, I’ve driven to San Mateo for nearly 17 years now for work. I leave before 7 a.m. to get there without the hassle of traffic. I can honestly say two things: When school is out, I can leave 10 or 15 minutes later; and widening a part of Highway 1, then narrowing it again, does not truly solve traffic woes – it would be like a heart surgeon cleaning out part of your artery but leaving the rest of it clogged.
“Gang of No” is a label meant to segregate and isolate a specific group of people and give that group a negative connotation. That does not help anyone because it turns ideas into conflict. It is not productive. People will argue. Big deal. But ALL sides need to realize there will be give and take. It’s not a contest; it’s a process to reach a mutual goal.
Pacifica has a long history of infighting, probably a function of our disparate neighborhoods without common interests. Scattered along 10 miles of coastal hillsides, deep valleys, beaches, and floodplains, our 40,000 residents range from blue-collar workers to white-collar professionals, and self-employed entrepreneurs to retired civil servants.
Lots of new money is coming into town, while lots of old money desperately hangs on. There is plenty of friction, resentment, bitterness, and distrust. This atmosphere engenders a kind of McCarthyism in which groups that have nothing in common blame other groups for Pacifica’s woes, demonizing and dehumanizing them with silly labels.
Reading comments on the four blogs of the apocalypse (Riptide, Index, Fix, Patch) and Pacifica Tribune letters to the editor, you may have seen a “Gang of No” label applied to various local environmentalists and conservationists because of their principled opposition to the highway widening and other public or private development/construction proposals.
As one of the aforementioned bloggers, and as a Tribune columnist, and as a member of the much-maligned “Gang of No,” I would like to ask for a timeout.
I do not claim to speak for my fellow gang members. They are fully capable of speaking for themselves, and many of them do so on the blogs and in the Tribune's inky pages.
I simply want to say that as a green-to-the-gills enviro, I am not primarily a naysayer. I love Pacifica’s green hillsides and blue waters. I moved here and I stay here because of the natural beauty of this little burg, just over the hill yet worlds away from the mad, mad mess of San Francisco.
Okay, I do say “NO” to anything that I think would endanger all this great scenery or all this laid-back small-town vibe. To me, bigger and faster is not better. I want to fix the town’s problems as much as anyone does. I may not share the same ideas as you about what is good for Pacifica, but make no mistake: I belong to “The Gang of Yes.”
I say “YES” to slow growth, smart development, small business, and green initiatives. From my deeply felt opposition to bad ideas and poor planning comes a wealth of positive alternatives and creative solutions.
Now if only I could get the powers-that-be to listen to me and my gang members once again, as they finally did with the Tom Lantos Tunnels at Devil’s Slide. That brilliant and popular transportation solution came from the very same people who are now unfairly smeared as “The Gang of No.”
(A slightly different version of this op-ed ran in my April 9 Pacifica Tribune column "Wandering and Wondering.")
Throughout the Bay Area, Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve (280 @ Edgewood/Canada exit in Redwood City), is famous for its spectacular spring wildflower displays. Friends of Edgewood docents offer free wildflower walks every Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. through June 8.
Every year is different at Edgewood. The weather favors some plants one year and a different set is abundant the next. Join us to discover what this year’s crazy weather reveals.
The approximately three-hour walks through grasslands, chaparral, coastal scrub, and foothill woodlands offer a surprising amount of biodiversity. You are likely to see 50-100 plants in flower on the moderately paced, three-mile journey.
Edgewood supports more than 500 distinct plant species, four of which are federally listed as endangered or threatened. In addition, the fragile Bay checkerspot butterfly, one of the threatened species, has made its home in the unique habitat afforded by the serpentine grasslands. The various plant communities also provide habitat for frogs, lizards, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, deer, and more than 70 resident and migratory birds.
Visitors can complement their docent-led walk by visiting the Education Center near the main entrance, featuring interactive exhibits that explain Edgewood’s connection to the surrounding landscape and its history.
Go to friendsofedgewood.org or call 1-866-GO-EDGEWOOD (1-866-463-3439) for more information. (Photo above by Kathy Korbholz)
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.
Pacifica Beach Coalition hosts regular cleanups and habitat restorations at Pacifica beaches. If your school, group, or family would like to help, please contact Pacifica Beach Coalition at 650-355-1668. Supplies and support provided. Join Pacifica Beach Coalition to put your special talents to work. Become a Beach Steward for your favorite beach. Help with recordkeeping, writing articles, taking photographs, school presentations, media communications, fundraising, grant writing, and more.
If you like to walk in San Pedro Valley Park and enjoy its flora and fauna, and you want to help maintain the park, drop by the visitor center and join the volunteer team called Friends of San Pedro Valley Park. Several times a year, experts present programs at the visitor center and guided hikes focusing on park wildlife, geology, and botany. Volunteers help maintain the hiking trails and wildlife habitat in the park.
Bay Area nature enthusiasts stay informed about nature events and list their own events on BAY NATURE. That’s even easier to do now with the online event submission form. You can email your announcements, but please submit events two weeks in advance. The calendar is the most comprehensive listing of nature-related public activities in the Bay Area: hikes, talks, film screenings, workshops, restoration projects, special days at nature centers or science museums, and anything else nature-related. Calendar events also feed into the interactive map, one of the most popular features of the website. Your event may also be selected for the biweekly e-newsletter, Bay Nature Connections. Visit the website at the link below:
Explore internship and volunteer opportunities year-round in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), including Pacifica's three national parks (Mori Point, Milagra Ridge, and Sweeney Ridge), plus Ocean Beach, The Presidio, and Muir Woods. Projects include planting, weeding, mulching, beach cleanup, trail maintenance, and more. Register online at PARKS CONSERVANCY. For more information, call 415-561-3077 or email us at [email protected]