By Julia Scott, San
Mateo County Times, Posted: 03/02/2010 08:55:01 PM PST, Updated: 03/02/2010
10:11:42 PM PST
By Julia Scott, San
Mateo County Times, Posted: 03/02/2010 08:55:01 PM PST, Updated: 03/02/2010
10:11:42 PM PST
Below is an August 16, 2006 email exchange between Todd Bray and Lawrence Host of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) detailing two scenarios that would lead to the federal agency taking control of the Rockaway Quarry property. The correspondence occurred before the Measure L NO vote in November dashed Don Peeble's development dream in the quarry. This is why it matters who the new owner of the quarry is. In brief, it raises the possibility that if the loan defaults, USFWS could take over the property to protect it as habitat, or the new owner could sell a conservation easement and take a tax write-off on the development value of the land as a business loss.
TODD BRAY: Here is some food for thought. North American Capital Advisors made a bridge loan to Donahue Peebles in order for him to close on the quarry property. Bridge loans are characterized by short terms (a few weeks to a a year or two) and high interest rates. Mr. Peebles bridge loan is already a year old. It explains his fast talking fast acting devil may care strong arm push for a public vote on housing in the quarry. It makes me wonder what happens if he defaults on the loan? Will NACA seize the property? Will they be the 'new' new owners of the Quarry? If Peebles doesn't get a yes vote on 355 units of housing what respectable lender will pick up the short term loan from NACA? The Swiezz Banc du Laundri? One thing is clear. The property is not his (Peebles) to donate, gift or sell to a land trust unless the bridge loan is covered (17mil). This is not good news. Peebles purchased the property for 8 million by leveraging it against a 17 million dollar short term high interest rate loan that makes the quarry property worth 17 million by default. It's a dumb ass deal, but it allows Peebles to play with 17 million dollars of other peoples money for free. Not too shabby.
LARRY HOST: Your source appears to know how the loan was secured, i.e., that the collateral for the loan was the Quarry property and nothing else. Supposing that NACA was doing either of two things, the land could end up being available for protection. Hypothetically speaking, they could be doing some sort of Enron accounting that keeps "assets" listed in carefully defined categories that will not hold up to scrutiny. Supposing the loan defaults, there could be an investigation of the accounting which could end up with the title to the land being held by Federal authorities such as the Securities and Exchange Commission. Lands being held for disposition by a Federal agency may be subject to a requirement for consideration of transferring the land to another Federal agency due to its being appropriate to satisfying the mission of such an agency. This could include the National Park Service (which often acquires land with recreational, ecological, and National Historic Trust values), the BLM, the Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Refuge system, etc. I'm pretty sure any of these would be interested in land occupied by the California red-legged frog and San Francisco garter snake, or is suitable habitat for promoting the recovery of these species. Another hypothetical scenario if the loan defaults is that NACA, realizing that it has become the proud owner of a white elephant (a gift given by the king of Thailand [?] to show esteem for an honored individual or bankrupt a gadfly by the high costs of keeping such a precious gift safe and well), might try to sell a conservation easement to someone, essentially writing off the development values of the land as a business loss for tax purposes. The inflation of the development values of the land would make such a maneuver more attractive, rather than less, while depending on the appreciation of the parties interested in protecting the land to lubricate the approval of the sale and tax write-off process. I don't say this is what is happening, but it does recall the advice of Deep Throat to Woodward and Bernstein, "Follow the money." It will be interesting (not necessarily fun or comfortable) to watch this thing unfold.
Governor Schwarzenegger’s administration has proposed a bill that would allow CEQA (environmental) exemptions on up to 100 projects, including private developments. Read more here:
The local populace that has a clue understands that urbanizing the midcoast turns Pacifica into a drive-through town. I don't make this stuff up. Just ask city planner Michael Crabtree, activist John Curtis, or anyone with a planning/conservation history. Once the midcoast is connected, "it's all over," as Curtis puts it. Pacifica hillsides will become fair game for the Bay Area Council. Roadway infrastructure constraints will be annihilated as soon as the segment between Fairway Park and Fassler Avenue becomes a reality. The Hillside Preservation Ordinance (HPD) will be under attack and doubtless found to be illegal by the buildout cabal in Redwood City. The net result? Just look at the downloads below.Of course, the local real estate cabal will embrace urbanizing the midcoast and more than likely will "explain" to locals that the new "Daly City" midcoast will benefit Pacifica. All anyone has to do is to take a look at what happened to the old Daly City as soon as Westlake became a reality. That situation snowballed into contemporary Daly City, from a population of 6,000 to 100,000; from a quaint, comfortable, somewhat isolated hamlet to the congested, forbidding, hideous, and fiscally insolvent entity that it has been for decades.
BY TODD BRAY, RIPTIDE CORRESPONDENT
I just came away from a field visit to the quarry by the San Mateo County Transit Authority (TA) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). I spotted a group of folks in the trees near Rockaway along Highway 1 and stopped to check it out. It was a gathering of TA and USFWS to discuss mitigations for the highway-widening project environmental work. The TA director said a letter would be sent out soon informing whomever that TA is preparing an environmental document for the project. The City of Pacifica and TA say they are preparing the document, but Caltrans, not the city or TA, will be lead agency. It seems to mean that any hearings will be sponsored by the county and that comments and questions will be answered by the county, not the city or TA. I happened upon this meeting by chance and they apparently were not expecting a drive-by encounter with anyone interested in this project one way or the other.
On November 12, 2009, Pacifica Riptide received and posted this email from a Park Pacifica resident: "[I am] very concerned with the amount of work going on back at Millwood Ranch (formerly Picardo Ranch). It used to be a beautiful canyon with some rustic homes scattered about. It has now been cut and filled without permits. A large steel structure has been erected on fill, without engineering or permits! The city has issued five stop-work orders. Millwood has been cited by Fish & Game and the Army Corps of Engineers [Download Army Corps Letter to Tong 10-30-09]. Our city enforcement officer Jason Lo has been ignored for months, and he says he is handcuffed. I lived back here in 1982 when the hills came down. I live very near the location where the children were killed by a mudslide, all due to faulty hillside engineering. When I see Millwood Ranch, it gives me nightmares. They have people living and working below un-engineered cuts. They have filled creeks. When this floods, which it will, it will inflict major damage on Terra Nova's new football field, a disaster waiting to happen. City Council member Mary Ann Nihart has been up there and observed for herself the major changes to that valley. Before-and-after satellite pictures would be revealing. Old topographic maps are useless. The environmental damage may be irreversible."
Now reporter Julia Scott has done her homework, as usual. Her story just broke on Inside Bay Area/San Mateo County Times (see below). Anyone with further information about this issue may comment here on Riptide. Just scroll down and click Comments.
Like the Iran hostage crisis or the Energizer bunny, Connemara's advertorial in the Chronicle real estate section keeps on going and going and going. The most recent one was headlined "Final homes now selling at Connemara in Pacifica." We have lost count of how many times O'Brien Homes has run some variation of this "story," but the essential fact remains: They aren't selling. Besides, we don't think that monster homes belong on our green coast. These so-called luxury homes are an abomination: huge ugly boxes dominating lower Milagra Ridge, totally out of character with the community and the environment. They are the pampas grass of our local ecosystem: invasive nonnatives. (If only they could be as easily eradicated.) Unfortunately, we may be stuck with these empty million-dollar behemoths for some time. Maybe the Connemara Big Boxes should be subdivided into affordable housing for Pacifica's struggling middle class and working class families.
PROPERTY INSPECTION: At Any Time
FINANCING: Subject to Seller's approval of Purchaser's credit: A 40% down payment with the balance secured by a first deed of trust, amortized over 25 years at 6.75% interest, calling for monthly payments of principal and interest; all due and payable at end of two years.
DESCRIPTION: This 57± acre, ocean-view development property is one of the largest undeveloped parcels with residential zoning within the greater San Francisco Bay area. It is within a 30 minute drive of San Francisco and adjacent to over 1,200 acres of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, including historic Sweeney Ridge, and could be partially developed as a gated subdivision, or as an exclusive private ocean-view estate. The property, located between Rockaway State Beach and Mori Point in the southern part of Pacifica, has an irregular shape and lies along the west-facing slopes of Cattle Hill between Highway 1 and the western boundary of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The elevation ranges from 100± feet to 690± feet with the lower southwest portion containing less than ten acres suitable for subdivision development. The 57± acre site has some residual trees but contains primarily undisturbed native vegetation. There is an estimated 800 feet of frontage along Highway 1, and the proposed entry road to the tract, as outlined by CALTRANS, would be located 1,175± feet south of Reina Del Mar Avenue and 1,774± feet north of Rockaway Beach Avenue. (See Supplemental Information Package for detail information and March 2009 letter from State of California Department of Transportation providing verification that there is a right-of-way entry from Highway 1.) All utilities (water, gas, sewer and phone) are located along the highway and can be extended to the site. The entire property is within the city of Pacifica and a prior owner submitted a plan in 2001 for an eleven-lot subdivision, with the balance of the property (47± acres) to be donated to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area to be used for a trailhead in order to improve public access to Sweeney Ridge. Other options for the property include development of several ocean-view, gated estate compounds with private trail system for hiking and riding horses. The combination of the property's spectacular ocean views, location next to Golden Gate Recreation Area, proximity to San Francisco and residential zoning provides a new owner with opportunity to create both real estate and conservation values from the purchase of the property at a significant discount, with the added benefit of short-term seller financing. Please Note: Sketch plans are conceptual only. Neither the Seller nor its agents have submitted plans or made any applications to a public agency.
LOCATION: APN# 018-140-62. From San Francisco, take I-280 south to Highway 1 (Coastal Highway), and proceed south to the city of Pacifica. Continue on Highway 1 South, turn left on Fassler Avenue and then an immediate left on Frontage Road (Harvey Way). Please park along roadside by Our Savior's Lutheran Church. The southwest corner of the property begins near the church parking lot (see Supplemental Information Package). Access is by foot only. SEALED BIDS DUE NO LATER THAN 5:00 P.M., NOVEMBER 18, 2009
I just talked to city code enforcement officer Jason Lo, who investigated the house in question.* He said that since there was no stove in the downstairs units, then there is nothing the city can do. Nine unrelated people live there with 10 cars. It seems clear to me that some contractors buy houses they do not intend to live in, fix up the houses, add rooms, then turn them into for-profit rooming houses. If a house is purchased for the sole purpose of renting out rooms, then it is a business venture and not a residential situation that the property was zoned for. These contractors are endangering property values and diminishing the quality of life in Pacifica.
Alan Carlos Hernandez
Adjunct Professor of Mass Communications, Patten University, Oakland
*Hernandez and his neighbors have reported this violation to the city attorney, asking for legal action. The names and addresses of the parties involved are on file with the city, but are not posted here for privacy reasons.
Jim Wagner forwards this letter from Jason Lo: In response to the article posted on September 22, 2009, my investigation confirmed the following: On 09-20-09, I performed a site inspection in the presence of property owner Lam. Lam and I toured the property. There was no evidence of a 2nd unit on the ground level floor. I did not observe a cooking appliance in the ground level rooms. Further to that, I did not observe a violation of the Pacifica Municipal Code. Thank you for taking time to inquire about this situation. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (650) 738-7343 during the hours listed below: Monday-Tuesday-Thursday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
[forwarded by Jim Alex]
After months of languishing in real estate limbo, with the same San Francisco Chronicle headline declaring week after week "Only a few homes homes left at Connemara," the "luxury" mini-development on Lower Milagra Ridge now says that it has only one home left for sale—at a whopping $1,475,000, according to a new story in the Chronicle real estate section. C'mon, folks, what a bargain! Snap it up and put these folks out of their misery. Is this some kind of sign? Does this mean the economic recovery has begun? Get up there and vote with your wallet. Buy this house or else!
Jim Wagner says, "Everyone who is fixated on the quarry should check to see if they're going to live long enough to actually see what happens to it. This ought to give everyone something to worry about instead of the quarry." http://www.mercerwealthsolutions.com.au/calc/life_expectancy.asp
I'm not thrilled about the location of the new Walgreens drugstore in Manor. That corner is already busy, and when the store opens, there will definitely be more traffic. We'll all need to be careful to guard against accidents. I was so hopeful that Walgreens was trying to become part of the community when it placed a mural of a wave in the window above the entrance (echoing the theme of a beach community). But Walgreens then placed its huge red logo on top of the wave, obscuring most of it. Come on, we KNOW you are Walgreens without you shoving your logo down our throats!