Letter to the editor, San Francisco Chronicle, December 16, 2014, under the headline "Cost of living":
Recently, a few $4 million homes have been constructed in Pacifica. I understand the lure of it: a beautiful view up on a hill that overlooks a gorgeous ocean. The issue is the price — $4 million houses in a middle-class city like Pacifica? I have accepted that this city was not designed for major tourism, extravagant stores or buzzing night life, but I would not have it any other way. We already see the effects of building expensive new homes and of rising rents and housing prices in San Francisco.
The effect in the Mission District, for example, is exactly my point. All these tech people want to live in that area, so the prices have gone up so far that most of the people in that community are forced to leave. I do not wish that to repeat in Pacifica as well. When you change the dynamic of a city, for financial gains, you lose the essence of what it means to truly be a city. If these homes change Pacifica into a more expensive place to live, then it loses its essence, its people, its heart.
Coastal Commission Letter California Coastal Commission responds to City of Pacifica request to change Local Coastal Plan for proposed Beach Boulevard project. Officially known as Amendment # LCP-2-PAC-14-0173-1, this is a working draft. The proposed project is intended to be integrated into Pacifica's General Plan. The city's information about this project is published on the city website here: Beach Boulevard Project
The City of Pacifica is updating its Housing Element for 2015-2023 and requests citizen input. The Housing Element is a critical planning document, identifying types of housing and assistance programs needed by each segment of the community, including families, person with disabilities, seniors, and those with limited income. Public input is crucial to ensure that the Housing Element reflects Pacificans' real needs. For more information, call the Planning Department at 650-738-7341. Draft Housing Element Current General Plan documents, including the Housing Element, 2007-2014: General Plan Documents
I am very worried about what is happening with the conditions of approval (COA) for the Harmony @ 1 project now bulldozing the hillsides above Fassler and Roberts roads. We need to pressure the Planning Commission to stick to the COA that were the reason for fast approval of this project. Harmony @ 1 was designed and sold to planners as a flagship environmental development. It is now just turning into a money machine.
Trouble is brewing in Half Moon Bay over its General Plan process during recent public meetings. Many of Half Moon Bay's planning and zoning issues are similar to those being hotly debated in Pacifica. Stay tuned here for further discussions on General Plan deficiencies in both coastal communities.
Letter to the Editor, Half Moon Bay Review: The General Plan Advisory Committee, hosted by the City of Half Moon Bay staff and consulting firm running the process, met two weeks ago. One didn’t have to sit through all three hours before sensing a severe disconnect between those “guiding” the process and the volunteers representing the community who perceptibly commented on the three submitted plans.
Despite the diverse interests they represent, most of the Advisory Committee members wondered what happened to their inputs from earlier meetings concerning the three key goals the plans should reflect: preservation of open space, preservation of small-town charm, and amelioration of traffic congestion. Supposedly, the three plans presented would achieve this by more parallel roads to Highway 1 through our neighborhoods, but with housing tracts filling the open space between them, and more commercial development sprinkled around outside the city’s core.
The city pays this consulting firm a lot of money, but it has not done its homework on our existing laws as reflected in the Local Coastal Program, or displayed accurate knowledge about the actual conditions on the ground. A few examples cannot do justice to the absurdity on display at the meeting. They drew roads and/or trails through private property, said it’s OK to eliminate agricultural and urban reserve zoning by fiat, and their plans ignore all the places where protected wetlands exist that already stymie development. It’s all wished away.
Half Moon Bay just concluded two elections that strongly signal citizen discontent relative to the functioning of their government. It is time for the new City Council to achieve a new consensus as to the direction the update is moving. In the meantime, the consulting firm should be paid off and dismissed. It does not know enough to conduct a competent process.
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.
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."
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.
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.