As long as I have been paying attention, there has been a certain faction in Pacifica that considers ecological and wildlife considerations to be somehow at odds with business and commerce.
Many of these same individuals promote building more housing because of the very short-term boost that gives the economy, and I guess they think that the property taxes will offset the additional burden on city services.
It has been proven again and again that "bedroom community" is NOT an industry. I am a plumbing contractor. I make my living designing, installing, and maintaining plumbing systems. If anyone were going to make money from a period of indiscriminate building, it would be contractors such as myself.
Pacifica needs industry, not more residences. The rights of people who already own property zoned residential should, of course, not have their rights violated. We have many empty storefronts, so we don't really need more commercial buildings, either, until we come up with businesses to put in them.
Pacifica is particularly well situated for tourism, and especially for eco-tourism, and we aren't very well situated for anything else unless some Pacifican has just (I hope) invented the next Gotta-Have-It in their garage and plans to keep their business in town.
The City Council's upcoming appointments to the Open Space Committee are essential to having a City Council and an electorate that are adequately informed on open-space issues. There is a great deal to know about our open spaces and without the counsel of a strong Open Space Committee, we could well be burning our bridges in front of us, and undoing our prospects for the future.
I spoke to council member Mary Ann Nihart about it last week, and she said that the Open Space Committee issue will be addressed in March. She also suggested that there will be some structural changes to the Open Space Committee, having to do with liaison with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). Here is a link about the impact of parks and open spaces on various economies:
Why has the City Council allowed Pacifica’s long-standing
Open Space Committee (OSC) to languish? The
committee has not been able to meet for lack of a quorum, and the city has done
nothing to appoint new members.
This is important. The OSC and the Golden Gate National Recreational Area (GGNRA) Advisory Board
are the main connections between Pacificans and public officials on critical
open-space issues. Here, concerned citizens are not just limited to three
minutes at a public hearing. Issues can be thoroughly discussed before
recommendations are made to the Planning Commission and City Council.
The OSC was formed decades ago. If you remember, there were plans for big
housing developments all over Pacifica, with little real concern for open-space
impacts. It was the era of “condomania.”
The public was alarmed. In response, the City Council, led by Councilmember Chuck Curry, formed
an Open Space Task Force to identify and evaluate the open-space resources of the
most important private parcels and government-owned public lands. The Task Force
was made up of folks from all over Pacifica, along with two planning commissioners and two councilmembers.
The system worked well, and many potentially ugly
confrontations between citizens and the City Council, not to mention potential
referendum elections, were avoided.
The current City Council has announced its intention to
focus on economic development, and has appointed a citizens committee for that
purpose. I applaud that.
Pacifica needs an Economic Development Committee and an Open
Space Committee. I hope that, working together, Pacifica will have beneficial
development that complements the open space we all love and value.
What's remarkable about this ad is that the home "for sale" does not exist. If it were an ad for an undeveloped lot, or other reference were made to its undeveloped state, that might be OK, but the inference is that this "dream home on an ocean side bluff" actually exists. No reference is made to its nonexistence.
From the ad in the Mercury-News: "HARMONY ESTATES: Imagine….A breathtaking 180 (degree) view of the Pacific Ocean… Described as 'Coastal Green Architecture' by designer Field Architecture of Palo Alto, home is 4300 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, on a 1.27 acre lot."
The ad goes on, spewing copy: "This dream home is in a unique development with 9 other homes not seen anywhere on the West Coast. The 10 homes in Harmony Estates run on a sunny ridge over-looking [sic[ the Pacific Ocean, with only a short walk to the beach."
The listed price for a totally imaginary home within a totally imaginary development is $3.495 million.
I am part of an environmental group called Protectors of San Pedro Creek. We are trying to stop developers from constructing the multi-building, multilevel Oddstad Assisted Living Center at 721 Oddstad Boulevard in Pacifica. We are not against assisted living as such. It is just that this is the WRONG location! They want to build this where many semi-endangered and endangered species live: steelhead salmon, red-legged frogs, garter snakes, deer, bats, raptors, and more.
Also, the construction period (up to two years) would severely and negatively impact the mating habits/cycles of these creatures, quite probably upsetting or curtailing this activity, causing their extinction. If this project were allowed, the added air, land, and water pollution would be truly devastating, not only to the aforementioned wildlife but also to residents of the area.
Read the draft environmental impact report (DEIR) and final draft environmental report (EIR), both at Sanchez Library, Planning Commission office (1800 Francisco Boulevard), and online at the city website (www.cityofpacifica.org). Contact Kathryn Farbstein, assistant planner, at 650-738-7341. Of course, we have many issues with the accuracy of these official statements and findings.
(Editor's Note: On November 21, the Planning Commission approved the project 4-1, with Commissioner Leo Leon opposed. The project now goes to City Council.)
Committee for Green Foothills (CGF) has filed suit in San Mateo Superior Court against San Mateo County in an effort to prevent the controversial Big Wave Project from moving forward. Big Wave proposes to build 225,000 square feet of office and commercial space, plus housing for 50 developmentally disabled adults and 20 caregivers in a Tsunami Hazard Area next to the environmentally sensitive Pillar Point Marsh in Moss Beach.
“The Board of Supervisors ignored basic common sense in granting approval for this project,” says Lennie Roberts, CGF legislative advocate. “This project threatens our waterways and puts dozens of our most vulnerable residents at risk. Turning a blind eye to the many real dangers associated with the Big Wave Project will not make them go away.”
Big Wave is the largest development San Mateo County has ever approved on the coast. It would nearly double office and commercial space between Pacifica and Santa Cruz. The 46-foot-high office park buildings would loom over single-story homes, farmed fields, and preserved open space.
“California’s strict environmental review laws are in place for a reason,” says attorney Winter King of the law firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, which represents CGF in the lawsuit. “The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors overstepped its bounds when it approved this project despite gaping holes in the environmental impact report. How will the project dispose of its sewage? What will the residential facility actually look like? These fundamental questions were never answered.”
The project is within the mapped Tsunami Hazard Area, which was evacuated in the wake of the Japanese earthquake on March 11. The Board of Supervisors approved the project on March 29. The proposed building site is next to an active earthquake fault, and is on sandy soils that are highly susceptible to violent shaking, liquefaction, and other earthquake hazards. San Mateo County is potentially vulnerable to a large tsunami event that could be spawned by a major underwater earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which stretches from Cape Mendocino to Vancouver Island.
“As the parent of a developmentally disabled daughter, I fully sympathize with the need for expanded housing for developmentally disabled adults in the county, but this is clearly not a suitable location,” says Lennie Roberts. “Placing these individuals in mortal danger is not a reasonable solution to the County’s housing challenges.”
The environmentally sensitive Pillar Point Marsh, home to a wide diversity of species, including the California red-legged frog, could also be affected by the project. The project’s stormwater drainage and wastewater disposal systems are inadequate. Pollution from stormwater runoff and possible sewage overflows would severely impact the marsh.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the state Division of Aeronautics, and the San Mateo County Department of Public Works also have objected to the project. The county is at risk of losing federal funding for airport improvements due to fundamental incompatibility of the proposed housing in such close proximity to the airport.
Approval of Big Wave has already been appealed to the California Coastal Commission by CGF in partnership with the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club, San Mateo Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Pillar Ridge Homeowners Association, and San Mateo County League for Coastside Protection. Two additional appeals also were filed with the commission by the Granada Sanitary District and by the commission itself. The commission has the authority to amend the approved project or prevent it from moving forward.
GREEN FOOTHILLS The Committee for Green Foothills (CGF) has been working to prevent unwise or poorly located development throughout the Peninsula since 1962, when it was founded by a handful of citizens and activists to save Peninsula foothills from sprawling development. The organization’s mission is to protect and preserve the hills, forests, creeks, wetlands, and coastal lands of the Peninsula through grassroots education, planning, and legislative advocacy. CGF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
SMW LAW Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP (SMW) specializes in government, land use, natural resource, and environmental law. Since 1980, the firm has provided representation to public agencies and community groups throughout California. Known for its commitment to promoting environmental and community values, SMW is at the forefront of major land use and development issues facing California today.