Our well-informed source says, "The Rockaway Quarry FOR SALE sign came down, plus I just ran into a city insider, and that person has heard that the quarry has been sold, but whoever bought it didn't contact the Planning Department to ask about the quarry's zoning, history, and 12-year-old environmental impact report (EIR), so if it is sold, it's sold to another sucker. I'm hoping it's the Canadian a------- who are helping Tait with Harmony @ 1. The first house at Harmony @ 1 has plans into the Planning Department, but the plans are being returned to make the house comply with the Conditions of Approval in the subdivision's EIR. Yay, Planning! And here is your fun fact: Before an occupancy permit can be issued for any house in the Harmony @ 1 subdivision, ALL the sewer lines, electrical, water, cable, and access road(s), etc., must first be built, assembled, and have a final OK by Planning to sign off on the new infrastructure."
Photo by Bob Pilgrim
By John Keener, Special to Riptide
With all the tumult about the Harmony @ 1 development above Roberts Road, the truth is that it's years too late. What we need is an early-warning system for these kinds of projects so that we can have an opportunity to affect their outcome. We've had an early warning on the Gypsy Hill project. We need to become informed now or in a few years we will be wondering how it all happened:
This potential development encompasses two tracts in East Sharp Park, totaling about 30 acres. One is about 26 acres below Sharp Park and Gypsy Hill roads, and above Brighton Road to the north, colored green in the figure above showing the proposed construction. It is severely sloped, with spectacular views of the coastline and ocean.
The other is an "L"-shaped 4.4-acre tract, also steeply sloped, with Frances Avenue to the west and Clarendon Road, a "paper" street, to the north. It is colored yellow and orange in the figure above.
The 26-acre plot (in green) currently has a land use designation of commercial or residential/open space, and is zoned Commercial (C-2, residences not permitted), with a Hillside Preservation District (HPD) overlay. The Hillside Preservation District limits the area of the parcel that can be disturbed, for example, by houses, roads, or construction equipment, using a calculation based on the steepness of the land. HPD is certainly appropriate on this piece of land, where the risk of slippage or landslide due to construction activity threatens the houses below.
Neighborhood activists thought they were working with the landowner toward a bed & breakfast or a conference center. But the Draft General Plan Update changes the land use designation from commercial to very low-density residential, which may permit 0.5 to 5 acres per residence, or up to 52 residences on the 26-acre tract. This change from commercial, with no residences permitted, to very low-density residential is an example of a change in the Draft General Plan Update that favors development at the expense of community groups.
The development plans call for 16 residences, or about 1.6 acres per residence on the 26-acre tract. Note that the calculation required by the Hillside Preservation District has not yet been made. This calculation is critical for evaluation of the project. About 4.5 acres of the 26-acre tract would be designated a park, and a trail would be constructed up the hill to the rest area on Sharp Park Road. A left-turn lane would be required on the eastbound (uphill) part of Sharp Park Road, as would a right-turn lane in the other direction.
The "L"-shaped second parcel of about 4.4 acres (in yellow and orange) by Francis Avenue and Clarendon Road is slated to get 10 residences and 16 below-market-rate units. The below-market-rate units are apartments or condos, four to a building, in the northwest corner of the project. This parcel is divided between two tracts zoned single-family residential, one B-3 and the other B-10, and is also in the Hillside Preservation District. The owners probably plan to get changes made to the zoning for these tracts by trading zoning rights among the parcels to accommodate their building plans.
Under current zoning (shown in the figure above), this project could not be built. It depends on a land use designation that has been changed in the Draft General Plan Update, in spite of opposition expressed by community groups and others at study sessions and forums. Those who oppose this development will find their first battle in trying to reverse that change made in the draft plan. The next phase will probably be a struggle over the details of the Hillside Preservation District and zoning regulations, and how they will apply to the property. Bear in mind that the plans, if permitted, would transfer with any sale of the property.
There is much at stake. Not only are the views of the hillside likely to change forever, but building on that hillside may increase the risk of landslide. Traffic on Sharp Park Road will be impacted, and one of the main approaches to Pacifica will be marred. And the property is a wildlife corridor. This is an opportunity to preserve the hillside character of Pacifica, which together with our coastline is our environmental heritage.
http://www.pacificariptide.com/pacifica_riptide/2014/04/gypsy-hill-a-go-go-pacifica-planning-commission-april-21.html (Riptide post on proposed project)
http://www.cityofpacifica.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=6603 (Planning Commission study session of proposed project)
Owner/Applicant: Big Wave Group/Big Wave Group LLC, File Number PLN 2013-00451, Airport Street, Princeton. Assessor’s Parcel Number 047-311-060 and 047-312-040.
Consideration of design review recommendation to allow construction of the Big Wave Wellness Center (four buildings containing a total of 70,500 sq. ft. and 57 bedrooms for 50 developmentally disabled adults and 20 staff) and Office Park (five buildings containing a total 189,000 sq. ft. of industrial/office/manufacturing/ storage uses) and associated parking uses, proposed on the undeveloped north parcel (APN 047-311-060).
Outdoor Boat Storage Use is proposed on the undeveloped south parcel (APN 047-312-040) containing 26 boat storage spaces, 27 parking spaces associated with the boat storage use, and a 190 sq. ft. restroom building.
The Design Review permit is a part of the County’s review of other associated permits and actions including: a Use Permit for a modern sanitarium, Outdoor Boat Storage Use, and proposed parking uses to be located within the Airport Overlay (AO) Zoning District; a Major Subdivision of the north parcel into seven (7) lots; a Minor Subdivision of the south parcel into two (2) lots; a Grading Permit to perform 735 cubic yards of cut (for utility trenching) and 21,400 cubic yards of fill (gravel import); a Coastal Development Permit, appealable to the California Coastal Commission; and Development Agreement with the County of San Mateo to allow for phasing of project construction over 15 years.
Pie in the Sky
Bob Pilgrim photo
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 and not on the shores of any body of water that we know of.
Applicant Javier Chavarria on behalf of Miramar Enterprises has filed a planning development application to develop a vacant parcel with a three-story mixed use development consisting of 1,752 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and five (5) residential units above the ground floor at the northwest corner of Monterey Road and Waterford Street (on the corner next to the Highway 1 northbound onramp, before the car wash).
By John Keener, Special to Riptide
At the Pacifica General Plan Update open house the other night, I became aware of a change in land use designation that I believe calls into question the transparency of the planning process.
In question is the "Calson property" on Pedro Point, approximately five acres immediately west of Pedro Point shopping center, separated from the Pacific Ocean by the old Ocean Shore Railroad embankment. It is a low-lying tract subject to seasonal flooding. One would imagine the flooding will only get worse as the sea level rises.
This property was changed from a land use of "vacant/undeveloped" in the existing Coastal Land Use Plan to "coastal residential mixed use" in the updated draft. It is the only tract with this land use designation in Pacifica. It is currently zoned "commercial," but with the new land use designation, rezoning to "residential" would be necessary to be consistent with the new Coastal Land Use Plan. Once rezoned, the "Calson property" could accommodate up to 80 houses. For comparison, there are about 230 houses in the entire Pedro Point neighborhood.
The Pedro Point Community Association has repeatedly asked throughout this process that the property retain the original use of "vacant/undeveloped" with a zoning of "commercial." This would prevent residential development. There is no mention of the community association's comments, and apparently no "paper trail" that would tell us how and why the land use designation for this property was changed. But it is very likely that the property owner was involved in the change.
In my opinion, this change in land use designation is an example of the lack of transparency that many have complained about in city government. It taints the planning process with backroom dealing hidden from public view. The city should explain exactly what caused this change, and reverse it.
Excerpt from the full post at link above:
"The California coast is a panorama of open farm fields and hundreds of miles of undeveloped land. Highway 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway) follows the coast for almost the entire length of the state. The kind of road you see in car ads and movies, it looks like it was built to be driven in a sports car with the top down. The almost 400-mile coast drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco is one of the road trips you need to do before you die.
With 39 million people in the state, there’s no rational reason there aren’t condos, hotels, houses, shopping centers and freeways, wall-to-wall for most of the length of our state’s coast (instead of just in Southern California). The Coastal Act saved California from looking like the coast of New Jersey.
Almost 40 years ago the people of California passed Proposition 20 – the Coastal Initiative – and in 1976, the state legislature followed with the Coastal Act, which created the California Coastal Commission. Essentially the Coastal Commission acts as California’s planning commission of last resort for all 1,100 miles of the California coast.
Thanks to the Coastal Act and the Coastal Commission, generations of Californians and our visitors enjoy the most pristine and undeveloped coast in the country, with recreation and access for all. It’s an amazing accomplishment.
The downside is that the coastal zone has the strictest zoning and planning requirements in the country. As a new commissioner I learned quickly what developers would do to bypass those requirements."
What is going on at the northwest end of Oddstad Boulevard? Christine Coppola reports on Next Door Rockaway Beach that construction/destruction is taking place to clear several lots for development, apparently without a city permit. Can anyone verify this?
By Hal Bohner, Special to Riptide
The proposed new General Plan is badly flawed. It actually encourages more housing. That’s unbelievable! We need to put the brakes on new housing, not encourage more.
The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the new General Plan clearly shows that if more housing is built, traffic will just get much worse. Here are a few examples, with LOS indicating Level of Service. LOS E means bad and LOS F means really bad.
(1) The intersection of Highway 35 and Hickey Boulevard is now at LOS E, with a delay of 65 seconds. By 2035, with proposed new construction, it will be at LOS F, with traffic delay twice what it is now.
(2) The intersection of Reina del Mar and Highway 1 is now at LOS F, with a delay of 175 seconds. By 2035, it still will be at LOS F, with slightly less (140 seconds) delay even if the Calera Parkway Project is built.
(3) The intersection of Fassler and Highway 1 is now at LOS F, with a delay of 93 seconds. By 2035, it still will be at LOS F, with slightly less delay (73 seconds) even if the Calera Parkway Project is built.
(4) The intersection of Linda Mar Boulevard and Highway 1 is now at LOS E, with a delay of 65 seconds. By 2035, it will be at LOS F, with a delay of 83 seconds. The Calera Parkway Project would not improve traffic at that intersection whatsoever.
You don’t need to take my word for it. Read it in Table 3.2-5 of the General Plan DEIR at page 3.2-24. This situation could be improved by growth management. Many cities include growth management in their general plans. Pacifica should do it, too. We just need the political will. For more on this, please read my blog: http://pacificagrowthcontrol.wordpress.com/
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
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.
(name withheld by request)