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May 2007

April 2007

Pacifica Peace People Protests President's Pigheadedness

Att00004 Congress is about to send President Bush a bill that would attach funding of the Iraq War to dates for bringing the troops home. And the president has sworn he'll veto the bill. So True Majority, Working Assets, and MoveOn are partnering to stage a nationwide protest the day after the president's veto. The day after the veto, Americans will speak out against it. Pacifica Peace People has signed up to host a veto rally at our local Speakers Corner at Highway 1 and Linda Mar Boulevard in front of good old Denny's. If you can participate, please go to the MoveOn Web site at and register. We’ll let you know as soon as the date has been announced. Show Bush that we want an end to this war, and we want it now. Contact us for more information:  Img_0314

Pacifica's Overweight Garbage Cans Ordered to Lighten Up

Att88 I have spoken with the General Manager of Coastside Scavenger regarding this issue. They have discontinued the practice of charging for overweight cans. Now, when a can is overweight, they leave a tag on the can asking the ratepayer to contact their office. They will ask the ratepayer to separate the weight into two cans so that it can be picked up. In consideration of the health and safety of the waste hauler staff member, a can is considered overweight when two of their wastehauler staff members cannot lift the can. Weight limit for a 30 gallon can is 75 lbs. Weight limit for a 20 gallon can is 45 lbs. The General Manager of Coastside Scavenger has offered to put an ad in the newspaper and also in their newsletter that describes this new policy.

Maureen M. Lennon, CCMT
Finance Director/City Treasurer
City of Pacifica

County Needs Evidence of Coastside Scavenger Excess-Weight Charges on Old Bills

Unknown17 The county needs copies of old Coastside Scavenger bills marked “Heavy” and showing a surcharge for supposedly over-limit cans. Send copies to David Leung, San Mateo County, Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Weights and Measures, 728 Heller Street, Redwood City, CA 94064.

Leung emails: “As soon as we were made aware that Coastside Scavenger had been charging customers based on garbage cans that exceeded a weight limit, our department notified Coastside Scavenger that it is a violation of the California Business and Professions Code to levy such a charge to customers without a means to determine the actual weight. After we explained the violation to the company, the company advised us that they would cease levying such charges immediately. To the best of our knowledge, the charge has been discontinued. Our investigation is ongoing with respect to the specific circumstances and frequency of these weight charges. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me at (650) 363-4700. David Leung.”

Save Scenic Pacifica from Development Blight

P1000788Download visual_blight_of_prospects_proposal.doc

June 15, 1994 Tribune headline: Referendum Supporters Victorious. City Council voted to overturn open space residential zoning on Upper Manor to grant the developer his rights to build five houses. The voters emphatically rejected this zoning change: 3,595 to 1,924. This was the first defeat of the all-female council.

The Prospects project would be a major visual BLIGHT on our beautiful and scenic hillsides, a world-class coastal treasure.The proposed building site can be seen over a major portion of the Quarry, plus from the lower slopes up to the ridge and bluff of Mori Point hillside. Also, it would be quite visible from Milagra Ridge, GGNRA portion. Let’s preserve our intelligent zoning and especially HPD standards.


Just the Facts, Ma'am

Sunset By Fassler Fubar

This isn't about the developer. I attended the Planning Commission meeting this past week. I found two reasons that have motivated me to write about my experience. First, the developer may indeed be a great guy, but that is not what the project is about. Sure, he's an honest man who's lived in Pacifica for a long time, but that doesn't change the facts of his proposal. Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't the Planning Commissioners supposed to vote based on the facts and not on one man's popularity? Should the vote swing in another direction because two good people speak against it? The answer is no.  Second, I don't fully understand why another proposed development doesn't include any commercial space that would help replenish the city's coffers. If there is one thing that we learned through Measure L, it is that the city needs to generate money to operate efficiently. One of the major reasons why we have an economic problem here is that we've approved entirely too much housing while ignoring the commercial development's ability to help bring in tax dollars. Yet, here we are again, doing the same thing over and expecting different results.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Planning Commissioners tell Pacifica Riptide that they want to hear what you think about the variance to the Hillside Preservation District ordinance that is being requested, among other things. The Prospects seeks a 61% increase over what is allowable under Pacifica’s HPD coverage formula. HPD has provided hillside preservation guidelines for many years and has helped make “Scenic Pacifica” the place we all love and enjoy. See commissioners' contact info in article below; please scroll down.

(Fassler Fubar is the pseudonym of a member of the Pacifica Riptide grassroots collective.)


Former Planning Commissioner Speaks Out

W_rockaway_6_copy_1_2 By Tim Williams

As a Planning Commissioner, I was required to think of the commission's decisions in terms of the impact of likely future events versus the immediate and transient intent of a given application. This approach prepared me well for inevitable disappointment when developers came back with plans on their recently rezoned property that bore no resemblance to the hobbit holes they sold when they petitioned for rezoning.

I think it appropriate to add that I know too little about any current proposal for this to be taken as anything but general observation, not an opinion about any specific project or developer. It is always good advice to consider the potential consequences of one's decisions.

If there is currently a relevant proposal, the commission might want to consider a "specific plan" for the property that, if granted, would provide a rezone/variance (if necessary) that is linked to specific project
elements or objectives, i.e., density, erosion control, habitat preservation, etc., versus approval of a final project. If told you can't do this (with the property owner's consent), get a second opinion.

(Tim Williams is a former Pacifica Planning Commissioner.)

Tesla: Electric Car That Can't Be Killed

Wallpaper_front34_view By Bruce Hotchkiss

I am the first to admit that when it comes to electric cars, I am at or near the front of a long line of skeptics. I have seen way too many come and go, from home built to factory made, that promised much but really never delivered. The biggest challenge for all has been the range; 50 miles or so just does not cut it for most people. So when Martin Eberhard, CEO and co-founder of Tesla Motors of San Carlos, claims his company’s Tesla Roadster will have a range of 250 miles, I become the guy from Missouri—show me. (To read the rest of this, click on link below.)

Download bruce_hotchkiss_on_tesla.doc

For more information on Tesla Motors, or to buy a Roadster, go to

(Bruce Hotchkiss is a member of the Pacifica Riptide grassroots collective.)

American Abu Gothic


Just thought I'd let you know that last week's San Francisco Bay Guardian published a black-and-white picture of one my oil  paintings. I submitted it for their page 7 political submissions section. It's a dark revision of Grant Wood's  painting, American Gothic. The title is "When America Condones Torture, Our Future Looks Like This."

Andrew Leone, Pacifica


Developer Yields on Amphitheater, Community Center

By C. Shells

A development of 34 residential units has been proposed on Fassler just "below" the SeaCrest condominiums. To do this, the developer wishes to change the Open Space Residential Designation to Low Density, which will allow him to build more than one unit on the "flat" part of Fassler (where the "cattle chute" has been erected). This will also mean that we will lose one lane of traffic on the uphill part of Fassler. The developer maintains that the addition of 34 units will have no impact on traffic on Fassler.

Originally, the plan called for a community center and amphitheater with only three parking spaces, but the developer has now replaced that with a reflecting pool. All of this is just in the concept stage right now. If the designation change is approved, the developer can come back with a totally different and larger project. He is not required to build what he is proposing now. And if the designation change is approved, he can simply sell the land and someone else could come in and build a larger project.

If you have reservations about this project, please email the Planning Commissioners and the Planning Department. So far, the developer has packed the meetings with people who support him. Many of you cannot attend evening meetings, but a mass of emails will also have an impact on the decision the Planning Commission makes. The issues to emphasize: traffic, change of Open Space Residential Designation, density of the project, the visual impact of the project (almost all of it will be visible from both Fassler and Highway 1), anything to be built should be built on the easterly portion of the property, which is already designated Low Density.

Planning Commissioners:
William (Leo) Leon
Chris Ranken
Harold Cicerone
Ron Maykel
BJ Nathanson
Richard Campbell
Tom Clifford

Planning Department:
Michael Crabtree, Planning Director
Kathryn Farbstein, Planner for this development

(C. Shells is a contributing writer for the Pacifica Riptide grassroots collective.)

Are You Out There?

400 This is a call to action from a Pacifica civic leader, urging all Pacificans of conscience to get involved in city politics or risk losing to the nattering nabobs of negativism: “Encourage all to get involved during these budget months awaiting determination of a new city manager. One's views should be loud and clear and constant. What needs to be determined: Which way Pacifica? What describes us? What do we want? Who are we? We have the interim city manager here until June. He is a very wise fellow—visit him with your thoughts so he gets a real clear picture of what Pacifica wants. Also, write letters to the editor of the Pacifica Tribune. Chat with City Council persons and neighbors. Keep up the pace. It is very important. The defining time is NOW. Also get the next potential candidates into the public view now. It is showdown time on our future direction. The Yes on No people have not let up since the election. They are out there everywhere, at every city meeting of any type. They are smart and believe they have the best answers for Pacifica. And you can bet they are readying for the next election big time. They are relentless, steady, visible, and very much out there.” (as reported in Wandering and Wondering, John Maybury's column in the Pacifica Tribune, April 18)

Fassler Fubar Fallout Follow-up

By Summer Rhodes

Img_0436 The next meeting is May 21 to answer all kinds of questions that had not been responded to in the response to EIR. Overriding concern by all was the visual impact. The truth of the matter is, this project, while no specific plans are under evaluation yet, will be seen from pretty much everywhere: they are requesting a variance of 61% of the Hillside Preservation District ordinance.

Key among those questions:
1) how deep are the holes for the buildings?
2) where will the dirt go?
3) the Fish & Wildlife and other wildlife agencies have not received final EIR yet, but based on interim EIR have many concerns, chief among them: This is habitat or bridge to habitat for at least 4 federally listed species: a blue butterfly, Red Legged Frog, SF Garter Snake, and one other.
In addition, the water features cause some kind of wildlife sink--- this information is being clarified.
4) You can see these structures from every point in Pacifica. 
Although people asked for mitigation, how do you mitigate houses staring you in the face?
They used to call this Scenic Pacifica. Not for long at this rate! These are big, 38 feet (or 35), whatever— in your face buildings. A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet. And stench is rot from any meat. (the unknown Shakespeare).
5) Traffic, turn off to project will cause accidents, no sidewalks for kids
6) zoning: request is outside of what property was zoned for
7) project has not yet been looked at by the open space committee, who may review and then if they like, offer a recommendation to the
planning commission. They usually see these things first, but did not this time.
8) The point was made that the developer purchased the property knowing the zoning that was in place, so there should be no zoning change request. This is a zoning change request to build houses in an open space area.
9) The point was made that the supposedly platinum LEEDS certification, while promised, does not seem to be tied into the contracting process. Is it part of the agreement? or can the developer change his specifications if he likes? This is one of the questions that supposedly will be answered May 21.

That kind of wraps it up. Put as many documents and words around this as you like, these are houses going on open space. Kind of the same level of reality as the phrases put around supporting the offensive in Iraq.

(Summer Rhodes is a member of the Pacifica Riptide grassroots collective.)

Fubar to Rebar: Planning Commission Showdown

Atte14_2Pacifica continues to push the bad ideas forward. For instance, at its April 16 meeting, the Pacifica Planning Commission debated a project called the "Prospects." Stay tuned for more details on that meeting.

"Prospects" consists of 34 units: 17 condos and 17 townhouses. Besides adding even more traffic to an already congested road in the morning and evening, there are other problems associated with this. Even at that, staff recommendation is for approval.

All parking for the complex is in an underground garage, which requires lots of excavation. The land where the project is to be built is currently zoned open space residential with one house per five acres. The owner has two adjacent but not legally linked lots and according to draft EIR will not be legally linked. The upper lot, which is harder to build upon, is zoned for 33 units. so the idea is to take the housing unit total, flip the zoning, and build on the spot that was designated in the 1980s general plan to be open space residential.

If you are driving up Fassler, the project's driveway would be where the unofficial driveway is now blocked off on the north side of the street. There is a big promo on community gardens, trails, picnic area, amphitheatre, meeting space, but there are only two regular and one handicapped parking spot for nonresidents. Asked about this and the response was that this is all for the residents despite this being pushed as one of the benefits for Pacifica. (If they won't be honest about this, what can you count on?)

Building on this property requires the City Council to do a general plan amendment. Of course, if the zoning can be changed here to suit the developer's desires, I am sure you can imagine what else can be changed. Pacifica has been doing planning by piecemeal changes to its general plan—clogging the roads, ignoring the need for additional job-creating business, and creating the ultimate residential tax burden for a city with a surplus of housing compared to available jobs.

Posted by: Kathryn Slater-Carter Welcomes Pacifica Riptide to the Internet

"There’s a new news blog on the Coast. Pacifica Riptide was launched by Pacifica residents looking to expand the community’s media beyond the Pacifica Tribune. It’s still in the early stages, so if you’re interested in what’s happening in Pacifica, now is a good time to get involved.

"I’ve heard that there are close to 1,000 sites in the US that are doing something like what is doing, but there are still surprisingly few in the California or the Bay Area. With the rollup of the regional press by MediaNews, I think we can expect more in the coming years. It’s great to see this happening in the neighborhood.

"Pacifica and the Coastside are more intertwined than many of us might think. We both deal with Coastal Commission issues in development. Montara is closer to Linda Mar than it is to Half Moon Bay. And the Devil's Slide Tunnels bring us both a lot closer. Pacifica has been a lab for a lot of bad development practices that we can take lessons from here on the Coastside.

Publisher and Editor


(Riptide thanks Barry Parr for the warm welcome. We hope to follow his example in providing a dynamic community forum for local news and opinion online.)

I Coulda Been a Canadian


Natl_geo_cadillac_mts_maineThanks to misconceptions I have done nothing to correct until now, a lot of
people I've come to know over the years have absolutely no idea of my
background. Most think I am Canadian, which is something I guess I more or
less encouraged. True, I did move to California from Toronto, and true,
I held Canadian citizenship.  My origins are not north of the 49th parallel,
though; they are from Connecticut...[please click the link to read the rest]
Download bruce_hotchkiss.doc

(Bruce Hotchkiss is a member of the Pacifica Riptide grassroots collective.)

Kill Your Gas-Powered Lawn Mower


I’ve read estimates that up to 65% of American households have lawns, covering some 30 million acres. If you have a lawn, you know how much time, energy, fertilizer, and water are needed to maintain it. I am not suggesting that you rip up your lawn just to be eco-friendly. Heck, I’m not tearing up mine, either. But we can choose to improve the quality of our existing environment. Perhaps the single most eco-friendly thing we can do in that respect is to kill our gas-powered lawn mowers.

1.    5% of the nation’s air pollution is derived from gas-powered mowers.
2.    A typical gas-powered mower emits the same amount of pollution in one hour as an average automobile does when driven for more than 100 miles.
3.    EPA estimates that 17 million gallons of fuel are spilled each year while refueling gas-powered mowers. That’s more than the Exxon Valdez spill!
4.    More than 580 million gallons of gasoline are used to power mowers in America each year.
5.    The typical gas-powered mower subjects the operator to 85-95 decibels of noise pollution.

These are just a few reasons why we should send our gas-powered mowers to the grave. The first and only mower I’ve ever purchased was a push reel mower. At first you think you’ll be exhausted by the time you finish mowing your lawn with a push reel. But you’ll find that the minimal extra effort you put into the push reel will actually reward you with a peaceful, non-toxic day on the green.

(Jim Currie is a member of the Pacifica Riptide grassroots collective.)