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October 23, 2014


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I endorse John Keener for City Council. Really like the platform of alternatives to the proposed Caltrans boondoggle widening project, and fiscal ethics and responsibility.

Just learned Pacifica has been operating without a finance department for seven or eight years -- no wonder they can't find a million dollars here, 4 million there. That's a lot of work!

"These homes also affect the nearby property values."

You got that right.

The freeway slab Caltrans proposes for 1.3 miles in the middle of town will negatively affect quality of life -- for current and future home owners -- whether they are in multimillion-dollar McMansions, mobile homes, or somewhere in between.

And that will negatively impact demand, driving down property prices.

Wasn't this thread supposed to be about Hal Bohner (and other responsible Pacificans) endorsing John Keener?

@ Bob: My experience as a contractor is that rich customers spend considerably less than poor customers on the kinds of services that might be coming from local businesses. The fixtures and appliances that rich people buy tend to be of a quality that requires less maintenance than what poor people buy because cost is less of an issue for them. No fixtures or appliances, that I know of are manufactured in Pacifica. There is no reason to believe that the cleaning or gardening services that these wealthy homeowners use will be based in Pacifica. Those kinds of services, of necessity, are generally countywide or at least cover several cities. The only example I know of where a coastal bedroom community town went successfully "upscale" is Carmel, California, wherein the townspeople mostly had to sell and move out when it became a bastion of the very rich. Nobody was making enough money to pay that kind of property tax.


John, "it was debunked" only in your mind. There's a lot more to $5 million houses than taxes. With them comes very wealthy people and their friends who come here and employ maids, gardeners, and contractors who also spend money here. The owners and friends spend money, donate, invest in the community, and -- who knows -- start a business or expand here. These homes also affect the nearby property values, which stimulates even more revenue and spreads outward.

But go ahead, debunk away.

This is a clear example of why people say some of you are against everything. This is a long-approved development that even had the blessing of Nancy Hall.

Dear Riptide Readers: Please read ALL previous comments on this thread and respond to them directly instead of just repeating your own point. Let's move the conversation forward instead of going in circles. For example, several commenters have already debunked this idea that luxury-home taxes will somehow rescue the city budget over the long term. Larry Rosenstein recently wrote on this thread: "The idea that this is going to build Pacifica's tax base is fantasy. The total property tax from this project is about $500,000/year, but the city gets only 12 percent to 15 percent of that. The jobs, permit fees, etc., are not sustainable revenue; once the project is finished, those things go away. So in the end, the city will get about $75,000/year in revenue, and that amount will go up only 2 percent a year. This is certainly enough to pay the cost of services for 10 houses for a few years, but it's not going to be a windfall for the city. Plus, it's not something that can be replicated elsewhere in town. There are only a few places where $4.5 million homes are financially viable. For example, the article mentions the project on the other side of Fassler, and I doubt those homes will be in the same price range."

Dan, do you realize how much property taxes will be paid to this city from 10 homes each worth $4.5 million? I would think a lot more than these 10 houses will impact city services.

Big Banker:
If you think there weren't (and aren't) carpetbaggers ready and willing to build anywhere they could get away with it, then I have a bridge to sell you cheap. There isn't a side of this argument that opposes revenue-producing projects. It is now as it has been since this town's inception, except that we have run the maybe-bedroom-community-will-work-as-an-industry-this-time experiment a great many times since then. Bedroom community is not and never has been an industry, and whatever land we invest in that direction is lost to any genuine industry that might arise. We will continue to have an endless stream of developers ready to make more high-end residences requiring more and more services from a city that is having some difficulty providing services to the residents it already has. I am interested to know what revenue-producing projects you have in mind and why you haven't yet brought that industry to Pacifica.

Dan, we have a Hillside Preservation Ordinance that I believe has been in place since Barbara Carr was on the Planning Commission. No one wants to cover over all the hills, and as I have said previously, Pacifica is more than 52 percent dedicated open space. I just wonder why you object to building on approved and qualified land projects like Harmony @ One, or that others feel they must double-check on plans that have nothing to do with infringing on dedicated open space? Harmony @ One will bring needed property tax dollars to the city with not a huge infringement on our city services. I know I cannot afford to purchase one of the homes, but to the families that can, I say, "Welcome." On most days, you'll have a hell of a view!

"Actually the 4 million dollars was misplaced..."
It's really reassuring that Pacifica is managing its funds by permitting borrowing from one fund for an out-of-scope expense, not paying it back. Is it possible the borrowing is not getting recorded?

Why should anyone give these people another dime in tax monies?


Please. The hills will never be built on. You are slipping into the Bray zone of losing all credibility. Pacifica was drawn up to have a population of 90,000, but that dream died with Andy Oddstad.

Why don't you volunteer to help find the "unaccounted for" $4,000,000 down at City Hall. If the city had revenue-producing projects, we wouldn't have had a missing piggy bank!

What a wonderfully paved and properly exploited little greasy spot on the map we might have been if only we had elected Bob Hutchinson's choices for city councils. These hills could have been covered in mega monster McMansions causing the city a grand influx of property tax money and a slightly grander outflow of city expenditures to accommodate such fine housing. See http://www.alternet.org/culture/there-goes-neighborhood-6-billionaires-who-moved-somewhere-and-ruined-it. There were reasons why the lands that went to the GGNRA shouldn't have been built upon above and beyond the idea that all of nature shouldn't necessarily be reduced to being only a commodity. We are blessed with some really unstable hills and a coast that the very famous Pacific Ocean quite naturally has designs upon. Some of us can live with that. Some of us simply refuse to vandalize the property of our children's children's children before they even get a chance to take a look at it. Let's all give this stuff some better thought and come up with some better solutions.

"Actually the 4 million dollars was misplaced on Sue Digre's and the old councils watch. This council brought it to light."

Ahem, well, Bob, there you go again. The "old council's watch?" Apparently, no one was watching, at least not 'til Ms. Tinfow and her new colleagues were combing through the details looking at various funds and couldn't find $4 million that should have been there.

No one watching includes all present council members, such as Mr. O'Neil, who after 14 years on the school board should have known how to read a budget and ask more questions. Unfortunately, it does include Sue Digre as well, and we have to acknowledge that.

But you know what? She opposes the insane highway widening, so I'm going with voting for her, as that's our most imminent peril.

Actually the 4 million dollars was misplaced on Sue Digre's and the old councils watch. This council brought it to light. Yes we may be heading for bankruptcy but that would be the result of 20+ years of green enviro council persons who gave away most developable land to the GGNRA while discouraging economic development. We only got out from under their control less than 2 years ago. It's going to take some time to fix their mess. And Harmony @ One is exactly the kind of thing to help bring us back from the brink so Mary Ann is doing what she should be doing by encouraging it.

The more I hear about City Hall finances and its inability to track funds that are withdrawn and not accounted for or paid back, and Mayor Nihart digging for tax dollars on Fassler, the more concerned I am that this council is taking Pacifica down Bankruptcy Row.

When this new "state of the art" sewer plant is built, many seniors will be forced out of their homes in Pacifica. The sewer tax is already as high as the rest of the tax. Another sneaky trick by the City Of Pacifica. Refinancing sewer bonds, financing the police station debt. You can do only so many cash-out refis to survive until it's time for the bankers to call the debt.

If I was close to retirement age, I would be scared very scared about this latest boondoggle.

The Sharp Park Plant was state of the art and we all know what happened with that plant designed for 90,000 people. The Vallemar stink plant, well, same old same old.

Bravo, Lionel. I have every faith in John Keener's ability to get info, study it, and let us all know what Rubik's Cube of financial trickery is there in the new and supercharged sewer funds, if any.

"John Keener said last night he's a microbiologist so he'll have to trust the experts on the sewer plant."

I tried watching the video, and I saw this answer from Mr. Keener. The sewage treatment plant budget is a big black hole -- the only revenue-rich portion of the city budget. If you own property here, you know that from your property tax bills. Is it Mr. Keener's fault that he doesn't know all about this? No, it's obscure in the extreme, and another reason why it needs to be looked into.

Pacificans deserve better than a knee-jerk "let's build a freeway segment" -- when implementing some alternatives would do the job easier, quicker, and much cheaper.

There are many alternatives, most of which were not accurately assessed, and NONE of which were assessed in combination.

Timing of the lights using new technologies of data traffic management would go a long way -- in combination with one of the alternatives.

Of course, this would be studied by transportation experts -- not homeboys who advocate building a costly, dangerous, and ultimately useless freeway segment in the middle of town.

John Keener said last night he's a microbiologist so he'll have to trust the experts on the sewer plant.

Then I guess he's a highway engineer because he's concluded widening won't work. What expertise are you basing that on, John?

Highway engineers, designers, light timing experts, school administrators, and first responders all say this long overdue project will greatly improve traffic. But John Keener the microbiologist knows better than all of them.

"It's clear a vast majority of people do not want this project." Yes, and there's a reason for that.

Not just quality of life, safety, environment, and local businesses are at stake -- but our housing values are going to tank when people learn that there's a big highway segment -- as wide as Interstate 280 -- at the front door.

And wait till they get a load of the taxes they will have to pay to support it and the ancillary problems that are going to arise when this current council takes Pacifica down bankruptcy row.

"Funny, the reason we couldn't have public meetings on this issue is because of Hal Bohner and crew filing their frivolous law suits. One down one to go. When facing litigation it is customary to not speak publicly about the matter..."

More revisionist history from Bob. What's "customary" with this council is to go into the backroom w/the city attorney's blessing, and talk about things that belong in a public hearing. The most recent example of this sort of concealment was the Colt property purchase, which almost got shoved through unnoticed on the consent calendar. I'm amazed that challengers haven't seized on this consistent behavior of the incumbents to use as a campaign issue. It's outrageous.

Sure, the highway issue is the most important issue, because it's forever in its impact, but without a better and more honest public process, we'll keep getting bad decisions made in secret.

The San Mateo County Transportation Authority answered a PRA request about the cost to date for consultants, which they said was just under $5 million, a year ago. If you add that to the staff time for meetings of the Project Development Team and the various tasks that were assigned each member and include the consultants Caltrans has used plus their own legal department that evaluated the response to comments for the FEIR, the total exceeds $10 million to date. All this for an ego project.

Back in the 1990s the current director of Caltrans District 4 was then the project manager for Caltrans' widening proposal. Now he, along with the director of the SMCTA, a Pacifican, have stated to me that the project is nothing more than a frat boy prank. They want to see how far they can get before they get shut down. To me, they are spending public funds for nothing more than their egos.

As for our own staff, particularly Van Ocampo, they feel the opposition to the project is just a "few retirees who are very vocal." The truth about the widening project is in the details, and those details are contained in the 33 sets of minutes from 33 separate Project Development Team meetings held since 2007. God only knows what was said before that or in the hallways of District 4 offices.

This widening proposal is decades old; it's never been looked at with fresh eyes by Caltrans and is now nothing more than an ego project by bored public employees of Caltrans, the SMCTA, and our own city staff. It's clear a vast majority of people do not want this project. The candidates who are actually going out house to house are finding this out. Will it change their position about this? I guess we can wait and see. For now, there are only 2 candidates I will be voting for and they are Sue Digre and John Keener.

Unfortunately, the City Council never held hearings even when the EIR was open, even when asked individually, or at City Council during public comment.

Failing on 9 counts of CEQA is hardly frivolous.

The real "elephant in the room" behind the proposed Caltrans boondoggle Highway 1 widening project is the cost -- for the public money that will be wasted on a project that even Caltrans admits won't do the job it claims it needs to do.

Using taxpayer money for a huge unneeded project -- THAT IS FRIVOLOUS!

Keener is all about fiscal responsibility:

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