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June 2014

May 2014

Schoolteacher to City Council: Invest in Pacifica Beach Coalition

City Council votes June 9 on Pacifica Beach Coalition (PBC) funding. Below is the oral communication that Virginia Szczepaniak (Ocean Shore School teacher and 36-year Pacifica resident) presented at the last council meeting in defense of the $3,000 the city gives PBC for Earth Day and other beach cleanups: 

"The sea defines us. We are a coastal community, a beach town. Our greatest physical asset is the Pacific Ocean (hence the name Pacifica), and the fingers of sand that we call our beaches. Our districts, once whistlestops along the Ocean Shore Railroad, are named after the strand of beaches from Manor to Linda Mar. The sea defines us.

Now, more than ever, the health of the world’s oceans depends on the collective actions of concerned world citizens. I would extend that to say that the financial health of Pacifica is also dependent upon the health of our ocean and its beaches. I am referring to both the water quality and the condition/cleanliness of the beach.

Years ago we as a community acknowledged our asset, and did our part at considerable cost, to build a tertiary treatment plant so that our wastewater would be cleaned up and not pollute our asset. Our visitor-based businesses are serving beachgoers, and those who come to take in the view, visiting our asset.

To borrow a line from Dr. Sylvia Earle, “No Blue, No Green.” The health of the ocean determines the capacity for life on land. If clean and pristine beaches translate into our green, or dollars spent in Pacifica, how can we afford not to support all efforts to maintain our asset?

The Pacifica Beach Coalition, and all of the other environmental and civic organizations that support it, have collectively helped to maintain our asset through volunteerism. The Beach Coalition advocates stewardship, educates the citizenry, and inspires them to act. The coalitio organizes and oversees the thousands of human hours that it takes to maintain an invaluable asset, not once, but week after week, year after year.

Lest we forget our human assets, Lynn Adams, in a labor of love, has acted as point person to educate, organize, and inspire our coastal community and countless organizations to act on behalf of Pacifica. Lynn has partnered with Pacifica’s students to champion the effort to keep our neighborhoods, city streets, waterways, and beaches clean.

Lynn and the Beach Coalition have inspired my students, and their families, your future and current constituents and taxpayers, to be stewards of our greatest asset. She is an Earth Hero and she inspires the children to act like heroes. Lead by example, because actions speak louder than words.

You, the City of Pacifica, couldn’t afford to pay for all of the hours of service that have been dedicated to the environmental health and well-being of our community, under the direction of the Pacifica Beach Coalition. 

Surely you are not so shortsighted or short-funded that you would squander the harnessed energy and resources that are given in kind to the whole of your community under the direction of the Pacifica Beach Coalition.

We citizens of Pacifica want to feel proud of our community and the choices that our representatives make. We work hard on behalf of our home and our environment. You can’t take the ocean out of Pacifica.  See your way clear to support the Pacifica Beach Coalition's mission.

The sea defines us and unites us."

Pacifican Petitions City for Traffic Safety @ Palmetto/Clarendon

Four years ago I reached out to local Pacifica officials in an effort to have a crosswalk installed at the intersection of Palmetto and Clarendon by Sharp Park Golf Course.

As most residents are aware, this intersection provides access to a park, the beach, and Mori Point. It is also the path that many residents take to get to the 7-11, the Pottery Shop, as well as other small businesses in the area.

There are currently two crosswalks in that area. One crosswalk is a block away in one direction and almost three blocks away in the other direction, therefore, most pedestrians just cross the streets wherever and whenever the traffic allows.

The traffic is heavier now on Palmetto and Clarendon, especially during rush hour, weekends, and most sunny days. Currently, a Highway 1 exit sign points to the direction for coastal access (which is to cross the Palmetto/Clarendon intersection).

Four years ago the city engineer’s office responded to my inquiry. I was told that the intersection didn’t warrant enough traffic. My response was that I’ve never seen anyone or any meters counting vehicles.

I was told that crosswalks give a false sense of security to pedestrians when there is no stop sign. My response was that there are a number of crosswalks in Pacifica without stop signs, for example, the crosswalk one block away by 7-11 or the crosswalk by Eureka Square, or the lighted crosswalk at Manor by Tam’s Restaurant, just to name a few.

The city engineer’s office even said that there have NOT been any known casualties at that location. It was then that I realized the dialog had ended. Since then, Palmetto has undergone a major project putting in underground cables.

Although it seems that this would have been an opportune time to paint the street, nothing happened. Since then there have been several Fogfests, bike races, beach cleanup groups, and running events, all of which pass THAT intersection.

I have watched people walk their dogs, and children ride their bikes across this intersection. I’ve witnessed "close calls" between seniors on mobile scooters and motorists at this intersection. And I’ve seen horseback riders cross the street to ride on the sandy berm.

This month, I reached out to local officials again. I received an encouraging response from a City Council member that the city should re-evaluate the practices in determining when, how, and by whom the traffic count takes place.
I’m not sure whether anything will change at this intersection, but I am calling upon the good people of Pacifica who are familiar with this beautiful area to support this effort. We want to be proactive about this effort and not wait for a tragedy like the rip current warning signs at the beach that were deemed necessary only after people had drowned. 

For the safety of pedestrians as well as bicyclists and motorists, I ask that everyone request that the City of Pacifica install a crosswalk to enable pedestrians to cross Palmetto Drive at Clarendon Road. I believe it is in our best interest to not only increase pedestrian safety, but also to create a broader mission to have livable streets and develop a cultural "share-the-road" mind-set in Pacifica.

Along with pavement markings, it is requested that signage notifying drivers of the presence of pedestrians and possibly improved lighting in the vicinity be added as well. Marked crosswalks are used to raise driver awareness of pedestrian crossings and direct pedestrians to preferred crossing points.

Please join other residents who believe increased infrastructure enhancements could better protect our community. If it is determined by officials that un-signalized intersections are a breeding ground for bad motorist behavior, then a crosswalk with a light system or stop sign is requested.

Pacificans and visitors deserve an option considered to be safe, accessible, and comfortable for walkers, the disabled, cyclists, and motorists, whether it be to access the bus stops, coastal recreational areas, and/or the local neighborhood businesses. We are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to act now to give this issue priority attention.

Tess Hunt
Online Petition

Help PARCA Help Those in Need

PARCA ( cares for those who have Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, etc.), 800 Airport Blvd. #320, Burlingame, CA 94010, 650-312-0730(ask for Cathy or Joe)



Please like us on Facebook and whatever else you can do to help. PARCA provides  free family networking and advocacy to persons who have a developmental disability, and to their families. Please spread the word!


You can learn more about this service, the bicycle event in Pacifica and Half Moon Bay, and the “Strut Your Mutt” event  through Shamrock Ranch in Pacifica on Saturday, June 28.PARCA (Tax ID #94-1650851) is very grateful for sponsors and in-kind gifts offoods,drinks,paper supplies, and cash donations.





PARCA Family Networking and Advocacy Services  Department Director


Burglars Break Into Rockaway Beach House

Ahna Dominski, Rockaway Beach, on NextDoor:

"Rockaway Beach Ave. house broken in and robbed, possibly around 9 AM, on 5/28/14. Burglars removed exterior pet door, enlarged hole in door with a saw, then reached up to open dead bolt. Another locked door was removed from hinges. Possible suspects are two, tall, thin, young, male adults, or possibly one young male and one young female. The two possible suspects were seen walking east up Rockaway Beach Ave. early Wednesday morning. Both wore dark clothes; one had on a dark hoodie jacket, the other a dark cap. Anyone notice a strange vehicle parked west of the 800 block of Rockaway Beach Ave. on Wednesday? Please report any odd people acting suspiciously to police. Most people who walk in our neighborhoods do not wear clothes to hide their physical appearance and do not walk with heads down etc., trying to avoid recognition. Most house robberies take place during the day when you are away. Keep alert and fortify those doors & windows!"

Moving Madness: One Man's Journey Through the Boxes

By John Maybury

(from my "Wandering and Wondering" column in the Pacifica Tribune, May 28)

As a veteran of many moves in my misspent youth, I broke the pattern when I moved to Pacifica some 20 years ago. I began to slow down and stay put for longer periods of time. I have moved only twice since I got here in the early ‘90s (from Sharp Park to Park Pacifica to Linda Mar).


So it was a shock to my system recently when Leslie and I packed up and moved to a new house. I had forgotten how to deal with the chaos of moving: address changes, purging possessions, packing boxes, hiring movers, kicking dust bunnies around the house, losing sleep, getting bruises and scratches on every extremity, trying to remember where everything is (a futile exercise despite careful organization and labeling of boxes), schlepping last-minute carloads of odds and ends that somehow did not get packed in time for moving day.


Well, I survived, and now am thoroughly enjoying the open-ended process of unpacking and reorganizing my living space. This end of the move is much easier mainly because there is no deadline to get it done, whereas preparing for moving day is super stressful.


All I can say about the experience is that using local people is the key to satisfaction. Let me name a few for your consideration:


Realtor Rich Macario ( shepherded us through the entire process of house-hunting and house-buying. He was with us every step of the way, staying on top of the financial and legal details as well as the minutiae of closing out one house and moving into a new one. He checked in with us every single day to see how things were going, and when necessary, got down on his hands and knees to fix a balky garage door opener.


Rich recommended the Vector moving company, and the three-man crew spent eight hours getting the two of us and our four tons of stuff moved to the new place. They did the job with brains, brawn, and good humor throughout, including a miraculous catch of my heavy oak desk as it slipped out of the grasp of the guy hoisting it on a strap out the upstairs window (the beast was too bulky to fit through the doorway). We fed the movers pizza for lunch, and at the end of the move, tipped each one as generously as possible.


But Rich’s best referral of all was James and Lisa Pugliese and their four-man painting crew. They turned our plain-vanilla rancher into a colorful delight. Leslie and I both picked out custom colors for our home offices, master bedroom, living room, and hallway. Pugliese and company got it done in a day and a half, and if I told you the great price, you would not believe it. They did quality work with every touch of the brush, and as crazy as it sounds, we actually enjoyed the ordeal. The Puglieses and their crew are personable and professional, and we could not be happier with the results.


Ian Butler and his helper Joe (Bay Area Arborist Co-op) trimmed, pruned, and groomed a stand of pittosporum trees that line our new backyard, taking away three truckloads of greenwaste. We plan to have Dave Martinez of Dig It landscaping “kill” our scraggly, water-hogging lawn and replace it with drought-resistant native plants. Dan Underhill took care of some plumbing issues around the new house, and Rich Shafer of Granite Electric is scheduled to fix some of our wiring and lighting.


Finally, Alan Wald (Pacifica palindromist, who also volunteers with the Community Center rummage sales) was a huge help in lightening our load before the move, picking up carloads of donations to the rummage sales and loaning us his vast supply of handy-dandy moving boxes.



We always say, “Shop locally.” But after this move, now we really believe it. Local works.

City Council Races: Start Asking Tough Questions Now

SAMOS says: Here's a starter list of questions to ask Pacifica City Council candidates in the upcoming November election. Add your own questions to the list.

1. Other than family members, who are the top three financial contributors to your campaign?

2. No City Council members told us when they ran last time that they would try to raise our taxes. Would you seek another tax hike?

3. Did you support the purge of the Planning Commission? If so, why?

4. What changes do you want in a revised General Plan?  Do you think Pacifica should promote more housing?

5. Do you think that alternatives to widening Highway 1 should be studied before City Council votes on widening Highway 1?

6. How would commuters get to and from work during the widening if lanes were closed during construction?

7. Why do you want to be on City Council?

Pacifica Fisherman: Container Ship Plows Through Whales

On May 20 around noon, I was salmon-fishing about 15 miles due west of Princeton Harbor, and very close to shipping lanes in an area where numerous whales and diving birds were feeding on krill.

A southbound container ship (APL New Jersey) plowed through the whales. I noticed spouts from the whales within 100 feet of the ship. I did not see a direct hit on a whale but did find a dead whale floating close to the harbor mouth. Something must be done about these ships traveling so close to whale migration routes and feeding areas.

I contacted several environmental groups and the US Coast Guard to report my sighting. And I called the Marine Mammal Center at Marin Headlands and sent a picture of the dead whale. I hope someone will examine the dead whale for the cause of death.
Ken Miles

Resource Center, Library, Beach Coalition Still in Jeopardy

"In the past, the City has indicated to some, if not all, of these groups that funding would likely be discontinued in the future and that the group should work to find other funding sources. A summary follows:

Library JPA (extra hours) $75,000
Pacifica Resource Center $83,000
Chamber of Commerce (visitor center) $10,000
Pacifica Beach Coalition $3,000
Total $171,000

The recommended budget under discussion tonight does not include funding for these organizations next year. Each of these group’s services are highly valuable to the community and this recommendation is no reflection on the quality of the services or activities they provide nor the appreciation that the City has for their efforts -- it’s just a result of our limited resources. All the organizations have been alerted that their funding would be discussed during the budget process." (May 12, page 220: COUNCIL AGENDA)



Pacifica Resource Center's funding represents approximately .003 percent of the General Fund. That's three one-thousandths of the fund. Yet the city has large pension bond obligations, and it plans to borrow money from the sewage treatment plant enterprise fund, designated for plant replacement, in the form of a loan, to refinance some of this debt.

It seems creative financing is good for the city's work force -- why isn't it good for the public?

Pacifica has a 24 percent poverty rate. The Resource Center is able to leverage the $83,000 contribution from the city more than six times over from other funders, due largely to legitimacy gained from municipal support.

A budget cut to the Resource Center will affect thousands of people here. The bonds that the city is refinancing might affect a couple of hundred people.

What is the purpose of government, and whom does it really serve?

Lionel Emde

Opinion: Harbor District Should Reconsider Fishery Policy

By Nicole David, Marine Biologist

We are extremely fortunate in San Mateo County to live on the shore of the beautiful Pacific Ocean, which provides a bountiful supply of fresh local seafood that offers excellent nutrition and a low carbon footprint.

The fishing industry it supports greatly benefits the county economy, including Pillar Point Harbor's many fishing families; stores, markets, and restaurants that sell fish; recreational fishermen; tourism; and more.

The San Mateo County Harbor District also benefits directly from revenue generated from these activities. Unfortunately, the district mismanages this source of revenue. The district has imposed the highest fees in California on the companies that buy fish from fishing boats and then distribute them to stores, markets, and restaurants.

Ultimately, these high fees are passed on to consumers. These high fees also reduce profits for fishing businesses, and drive fishing boats to offload their catch at rival ports in San Francisco and Monterey.  

In response to sharp criticism by fishermen and the public last year, the district limited public participation by suspending video coverage of its biweekly meetings—a decision it reversed eight months later. 

The district should work to promote this valuable and sustainable sector of our economy. The district should reconsider its fee structures to promote (rather than discourage) use of its facilities, provide fair treatment of all fishing companies on Johnson Pier, and make decisions in the public interest by soliciting and carefully considering public input.


NextDoor CEO/Founder Nirav Tolia Sued and Criminally Charged for Hit & Run Crash

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—May 14, 2014—A lawsuit has been filed by the law firm of Brent, Fiol & Nolan on behalf of 50-year-old Patrice Motley, a self-employed executive recruiter from San Francisco, for damages she sustained in an accident caused by Nirav Tolia, the wealthy CEO of Nextdoor, a widely acclaimed neighborhood-building social network.

San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe has also confirmed that his office will pursue a felony charge against Nirav Tolia for causing the car wreck and leaving the scene of the accident where Ms. Motley was injured in August 2013.

The complaint alleges Ms. Motley suffered neck and back injuries, fracture of bones in her left hand, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which have rendered her incapable of accomplishing routine tasks necessary for independent living and which have seriously impacted her ability to earn a living.

Joseph Brent, of San Francisco law firm Brent, Fiol & Nolan LLP, who is representing Patrice Motley, said he has never seen a more callous example of someone trying to get away with a crime. “By fleeing the scene of the accident, Nirav Tolia left Patrice Motley discarded at the side of the road and feeling as if she were a piece of garbage,” said Brent. “The trauma of not knowing whether her car would be hit again as cars sped by has left Patrice unable to live a normal life.”

Brent added, “I find it ironic that as a model citizen renowned for her kindness and community involvement, Patrice is exactly the kind of person Mr. Tolia would want using his Nextdoor online platform designed to foster community.”

Brent, Fiol & Nolan LLP is a personal injuries law firm known for taking on and winning tough cases that other firms have passed over. The firm’s broad knowledge, and extensive trial and mediation experience, have been instrumental in verdicts and settlements for clients valued in more than $10 million dollars since the firm formed in 2008.