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May 04, 2016


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"What happens if I don't sign the petition and it doesn't make it to the ballot?"

Most likely, nothing. The ordinance says that the public must vote in the majority to allow housing in the quarry, period. The City Council cannot just say it's allowed.

If commercial development were profitable, it would have been built out years ago. In Pacifica, for various demographic and geographic reasons, it's impractical and unprofitable.

Nobody has answered Wild Turtle's question. If the measure doesn't get on the ballot, the owner/developer goes back to square 1. The City Council does not have the final say. The owner/developer can propose a commercial/hotel project with no residential in it. That does not require approval by a vote of the people. He could also try again to put another measure on the ballot to approve residential in the quarry, or he could sell the property or donate it for a tax write-off.

I just received a petition in the mail from Pacifica Residents for Preserving the Quarry. Digging deeper, it looks like the mailing was sent out by the OWNER of the quarry property. It indicates that signing the petition would allow residents the right to vote on the project. To me it seems like a sneaky way for the owner/developer to get his plan on the ballot as is. My question is: What happens if I don't sign the petition and it doesn't make it to the ballot? Does that mean City Council gets the final say? My preference would be for restoration and no development, and I feel like the owner is tricking us with this petition to put his plans on the November ballot.

Is it time for Mike O'Neill's quid pro quo?


This link should work.

If the Zentner conviction link doesn't work, try this:

This developer already has been charged with violating an endangered species act (https://www.justice.gov/archive/opa/pr/2000/November/663enrd.htm): "On May 25, 1999, John Zentner, with the assistance of Zentner & Zentner employees, relocated as many as six to eight California red-legged frogs from the watercourse running through the Holly Creek Estates site to the one pond on the site.
On July 27 and July 28, 1999, at John Zentner's direction, more than 50 California red-legged frogs and more than 500 tadpoles were collected by Zentner & Zentner employees and relocated from one portion of the pond that was to be filled in to another portion that was to be preserved.
Neither John Zentner nor anyone else associated with this project had applied to the USFWS for a permit to collect, relocate or take the frogs. On July 29, 1999, most of the pond in which the frogs had been found was filled in at the direction of the developer. Because Zentner first collected and relocated the frogs and tadpoles to the now-smaller pond -- within 15 feet of the new homes -- the pond was incapable of sustaining them and many died.
"Deliberately modifying the habitat of threatened or endangered species in a way that upsets their essential life functions harms biological diversity and degrades our environment," said Assistant Attorney General Lois Schiffer. "Had the Fish and Wildlife Service been notified of the existence of the frogs, as required, the development of this site would have been allowed even as measures safeguarding the frogs were undertaken."'

Well, that's 15 minutes of my life I can't get back. There are so many references to what the public deem or intend or otherwise demand on behalf of the Michigan developer, there's no way the public is being told this at the signature tables in Linda Mar and Manor. I think I'll go have some fun.

Pacifica is way behind in building. Children lack activities. There is no movie theater, no skating rink, no juice or soda shops. We need the quarry to build. Let the kids and teenagers have their space. Build, build, build. Let the people have housing. Stop the deprivation in Pacifica. Pick up a hammer and build.

I remember the Live-Work legislation in San Francisco being touted as making what artists were already doing in South of Market warehouses legal. What it did was have developers come in and kick all the artists out and remodel them into big condos that only dot-com execs could afford. Live-Work has now become a reference to what those turned out to be, without bothering with any of the pretense that they used to argue it in back when. You would be hard-pressed to find any artists living and working on any of them. They are condos with high ceilings for dot-com executives. That is all.

"The net effect is to give the city the ability to approve any project that fits those limits without a subsequent vote."

That's accurate.

And a fuller, more accurate statement would include the fact that the right to build housing in the quarry is defined by local law to be decided by a vote of the people.


This particular initiative takes that right of the public away and gives it to City Council.


The thing is that City Council has shown over the past 50 years it cannot get work done properly. Whether it's simple transparency on public process, due diligence on cliffside apartment construction, vetting the recent Harmony @ One scarred hillside, or even accounting for $4.75 million the current city manager has discovered missing and said would publicly report to voters, City Council has shown little to no ability to follow simple best practice. At this point, these failures are causing serious negative fiscal impact on Pacifica taxpayers.

What could possibly tip the scales that council would change its pattern and even follow normal best practice on a big development project, when it's shown time and time again that it does not perform well in that arena?

Should the lucrative aspect of developing housing be left to a developer team and their persuasions to council, or should it stay as it is today, to be determined by a vote of the people?

Hey ya, Larry, I don't know if you remember the legal opinion/study Cecilia Quick had done in response to the ballot language of the Peebles Co. Measure L? The punchline of the report was that no matter how many units of housing were mentioned in the ballot (in this case it was 355), the ballot doesn't limit or bind the city's ability to decrease that number to one or none if that's what it chose to do. So in this initiative, the same rules apply.

This initiative is to allow housing as part of a project, and no matter how many apartments/live-work or other units of housing are specified on the ballot (if it gets that far), it does not limit the city's ability to reduce that number to whatever it wishes, or increase the number of units.

As you've said, the other elements of the initiative language are needlessly vague. This will be an up-or-down vote to allow housing in the quarry. The add-on language about rezoning etc. is just scrapple.

There would be some property tax revenue to the city from the "improvements" to the land in developing it. There also is an "affordable housing" promise that city officials would go for as we have failed almost totally to build such housing.

But that doesn't mean it's a good idea. As others have pointed out, once the vote is over, all bets are off as to what, if anything, will be built. The present City Council majority has shown that it will vote for any development plan that comes before council -- period. The majority is firmly in the pocket of the real estate industry.

Thanks, Larry, I appreciate the analysis.


In one sense, this is about approving housing, since that's the only reason why a public vote is needed. The initiative establishes limits on the size of the project that correspond to the concept the developer is proposing. For the housing component, that means no more than 206 units, of which at least 25 are live/work and the rest apartments, with 20% affordable. Also, the housing is limited to a designated area.

The net effect is to give the city the ability to approve any project that fits those limits without a subsequent vote. But it doesn't mean that the project the developer is proposing is what will get built. In particular, there's no requirement in the initiative to build the hotel or commercial space. (There's only a maximum size for these pieces.)

Because of that, there's no way to know what the ultimate financial benefit would be. Most of the revenue would come from the hotel tax, but the amount depends on the number/price of the rooms and the occupancy level. (Is there enough demand for hotel rooms, given the Holiday Inn expansion?) Since there's no longer a redevelopment area, the city wouldn't get much benefit from property taxes, and the revenue from sales taxes is hard to predict without knowing what businesses occupy the space. (In the adjacent Rockaway Beach area, a lot of the businesses are services that don't generate sales taxes.)

One concern I have is whether the terms used in the initiative are specific enough. For example, exactly what is a "live/work unit" and a "hotel bungalow"? Election Code section 9212 allows the city to prepare a report on the effect of the initiative. In 2006, the city gave people a chance to submit questions that were answered by the report, and I would like to see something similar done this time as well.

Hey, Todd, you're so worked up about this quarry vote, you missed Justin Bieber at Linda Mar Beach the other day. I know you're a big fan :)

Ian, just vote NO if it becomes a ballot measure.


I was told that Mooney's garden would remain.

After a careful reading of the initiative, I found several sections that don't jibe with your description that it is "just a vote to approve housing." Specifically, these passages:

"The voters expressly state that any development approved by the City Council that contains residential development and that does not meet all of the conditions prescribed by subsection B shall be subject to an additional vote of the electorate before that nonconforming developmentā€™s final approval and authorization." (Subsection B includes specific requirements for city review, open space, traffic, residential, hotel, and green building standards.)

-- and --

"This Initiative must be broadly construed to achieve the purposes stated above. It is the intent of the voters that the provisions of this Initiative be interpreted or implemented by the City and others in a manner that facilitates the purpose set forth in this Initiative."

There is certainly some wiggle room as to what "broadly construed" means, but it seems to me that the developers would have to stick pretty close to the plan.

I'm obviously no expert on this, and would welcome more input on what this really means.


Just vote NO if the initiative makes it to the ballot. The lawyers have thrown up a bunch of smoke and mirrors to confuse, but a simple NO vote is all it takes.


Written by/for developer Eenhoorn, business colleague Zentner et al., the initiative REMOVES PACIFICA VOTERS' RIGHT TO VOTE FOREVER on housing in the quarry.

That's the real purpose of this cleverly written legal document, which promises "millions of dollars" to Pacifica. At the same time it will:

(1) Rezone the rest of the quarry to commercial.
(2) Remove citizens' ability to vote on housing in the quarry.
(3) Change or require change to Pacifica's General Plan.
(4) Apparently, also address a "sea wall...badly" in need of repair.*
(5) Review traffic flow.

Packing in hundreds of households like sardines, with a hotel, amphitheater, trails, roads into Rockaway, and the quarry, means a lot more traffic -- at least double current traffic.

We may assume that the Eenhoorn/Zentner vision includes widening of Highway 1 in Pacifica.

(6) Nullify any and all other initiatives and measures on the same ballot regarding the quarry.

That's right:

Although the language refers to "the people of Pacifica," it is worth noting that this initiative is of, by, and for the current quarry owner and business colleague Zentner et al., and will result in the highest-density housing in Pacifica, accompanied by removal and destruction of the very ecosystem the builder claims to "restore."

These folks are from out of town -- they have no real stake in livability in Pacifica!

at a very minimum, Eenhoorn/ Zentner et al. will have increased the value of the property and can turn it at a favorable price!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's a lot of hoo-ha, but it's still just a vote to approve housing. All the other stuff is whitewash. The sad thing is that Mike Mooney will lose his wonderful garden inside the quarry, and that is a shame for him, as he's a sponsor of the proposal. Shame on Zentner et al.

"The Pacifica Quarry Restoration and Responsible Development Initiative" is neither a restoration nor is it responsible:

Roughly two-thirds of the quarry will have buildings, trails, and 318 or more human residents with their pets, friends, children, and cars. This development, despite the laying on of words to the contrary, is destruction, as most of the quarry is protected wildlife habitat/open space.

Adding 318 to as many as 1,000 people into the relatively small space abutting Rockaway and closed off on one side by the ocean converts a scenic coastal town to an overcrowded traffic SNAFU with high-density housing as crowded as San Francisco.

Pacificans will lose their scenic coastal town, and get "Daly City on the Coast."

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