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July 06, 2021

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Julie:

NIMBY is an acronym, not name-calling. As you no doubt already know, it stands for "Not In My Back Yard" and it was coined to describe people who oppose residential development in their community for personal reasons. It is an attitude of "we have ours and you cannot have it." NIMBYs are like the people who favored covenants in deeds that prohibited the sale of homes to people of color. These were intended to keep out the "undesirables." The Supreme Court ruled these to be unconstitutional many years ago. Now the NIMBYs use other tactics to keep people out. NIMBYs are not necessarily racists, although some might be. They just do not want others to buy new homes in their community. Calling out NIMBYs is the right thing to do because what they are doing is bad for the community.

"This forum is for intelligent, respectful public dialogue."

"Nimby" is name calling. But people who aren't getting their way sometimes get upset and forget themselves. Shame on you.

Check out these two new project documents. They’re asking for waivers and variances from our Hillside Preservation Ordinances. Please write to the City Council asking for a public review of these important laws. Even the Planning Commission has been asking for this public discussion at the last three meetings.

I've recently reviewed three projects that the planning staff reports said complied with HPD, but they did not. Those projects are Harmony One Lot 3 and Lot D, and 801 Fassler. While our recent Lot 3 appeal was upheld, some of the comments by council members indicated that this discussion was "not a priority." They are elected to represent us, so if you think this is important, write a letter or speak up during oral communications.

https://cityofpacifica.egnyte.com/openpublicdocument.do?link_id=OsNWsZ01tl&entryId=60adbceb-5a63-4356-8560-f33e279e6808

https://cityofpacifica.egnyte.com/openpublicdocument.do?link_id=OsNWsZ01tl&entryId=5fab6611-4b9a-468b-860d-603f5f60d212

How disappointing, John. You are losing the argument on its merits, so you resort to name calling. Sad – I thought you were above that. No, I don’t live on Higgins, but this area is relatively speaking “my backyard.” I am demonstrably not a NIMBY as I have already stated here that I agree more housing units are needed in California, and I have, for example, no problem at all with your “Meadows” development. What I have a problem with is 125+ units on the top of that hill in a project where you have no serious mitigation strategy for a breathtaking array of impacts on the community (parking and traffic just two of very many). The “Woods” is simply the wrong location for this development. But disturbingly, your stock answer to valid community concerns and to point them to a half-finished website that is practically the very definition of “greenwashing.”

And why do I say you are losing the argument? Because you avoided answering almost all my previous questions:

* I asked you to publish (or at least describe) the road alignment that will allow for road widening while permitting the residents on the north of Higgins to park in their driveways and not carving through the school on the south side. You didn’t. From which we can assume no such engineering hat trick is possible and you are, in fact, still planning on taking parking from the driveways to the north.

* I asked you to tell us how many years until the parking in front of the community center is open. You didn’t.

* Increased parking demand may not be the *objective* of your promotion of the trails, but it will be the inevitable outcome. So it is your responsibility. Thus, despite you previously saying that your development would not increase parking demand on Higgins, it will. And if your target audience is locals who know the area and new residents (who can’t move in yet), then why are you already promoting the trails on Facebook groups that reach far farther than Pacifica?

* You still refuse to do even a basic parking study: That refusal speaks for itself.

* And I asked you to confirm if you still expected that an extra car at least every ~30 seconds during peak times was "not an issue" (your words) for the people of Linda Mar. You didn’t.

Peter George:

Can you tell me whether you live on Higgins Way? My bet is you do not. You write as an advocate for the people living on Higgins Way, but I suspect this is cover for another agenda. I am getting a whiff of NIMBY here. Pull up the ladder behind you.

You mix up parking with traffic. Our solution to parking is to create more of it by keeping the existing on-street parking on Higgins Way, creating more on-street parking by completing Higgins Way from Shamrock Ranch to Peralta Road, and by having even more parking in front of the community center within the neighborhood. No existing parking is being taken away. The community center parking will be constructed when the loop road is built. The road will be the first thing we build. Some mountain bikers will park at the bottom along Higgins Way. Others will park at the top because of the scene that will occur at the community center. It will be where the cool kids hang out to talk about their rides. Some will head southwest on Old San Pedro Mountain Road for McNee Ranch toward Montara State Park and will use the community center as their return point.

As for traffic, we are widening Higgins to city standards to create a proper street with adequate room for vehicles to pass one another and for emergency vehicles to operate. We are also opening up a second path to Linda Mar Boulevard to move traffic along smoothly. Will there be more cars traveling down Higgins Way? Yes. Will the street be engineered to handle it? Yes.

My much-vaunted plan to improve the trails starts with renovating Old San Pedro Mountain Road. Will this increase demand? That is not the objective. The trail is already actively used by people living in Linda Mar. The idea is to provide the people already using the trail with a much nicer and safer experience. The increase in demand will come from the people who move into the development designed on the top of the hill as a recreation-oriented neighborhood. They will want to walk and ride a nice trail as part of the experience. The improvements we are planning will accommodate the increase in local demand.

WM. BOYCE:

My proposal is a little more nuanced than you represent. Go to www.lindamarwoods.com to get the whole picture. I do not think you are stupid. But I do think you need to do your homework.

"The forest at Linda Mar Woods has been neglected for decades and the conditions exist for a wildfire as you say. We are in an extended drought and the forest floor is covered in kindling. But the way to address the risk is not to do nothing. It is to initiate forestry management best practices. Many people in the Bay Area think Eucalyptus forests are harmless and must be protected. But our friends in Australia know better from centuries of wildfire experience in Eucalyptus forests. "

Well, sure, eucalyptus are a problem, but only a small part of the overall problem. You propose to clear a large swath of land, build many single-family homes, and have a substandard road as the only access. In the past, certainly you would have gotten away with it, and, considering the low-quality political leadership we have here, you may again. But don't take us as stupid in not recognizing this.

Unfortunately, John, I remain unconvinced that you are not creating a parking nightmare on Higgins & Adobe – at least for several years, if not permanently. The facts are extremely obvious since they are based on your very own words and reports. Almost so obvious as to not need repeating, but just in case:

* If you widen Higgins to the south at all (e.g. to allow the homeowners on the north side enough room to park on their driveways), that puts the road onto the private property of the Montessori school and other parcels. I'm having a really hard time seeing how the widening to the south works, John, without the city buying private property along the south side of Higgins. So please publish these new alignments so all stakeholders can have a look. I'm sure the school especially will be interested -- although you've probably already done the neighborly thing and you are already talking with them, right? Thanks.

* You have a much-vaunted plan to improve the trails and rides in the "woods" area – by which I presume you hope to make them more attractive -- i.e., increase demand. In fact, you are already actively promoting the attractiveness and availability of these trails and rides on numerous social media networks (links available for folks who have not seen this activity on Facebook, etc.). So yes, you are *directly and currently* already increasing parking demand on Higgins, as per your own words.

* As I already pointed out, mountain bikers will not park at the *top* of their rides. Please ask them to confirm this the next time you see them. I request this sincerely because it is a little forecasting I am allowing myself here that is not **directly** based on your own words/plans.

* How long until the parking in front of the community center is even open for business? Five years? Maybe ten? Or at least three, right? So the folks down below have to suffer horrendous parking situations only for those few years, right? Do you "expect" this to be "not an issue," John? Please publish the Gannt chart of the construction project so we can clearly see for ourselves when the parking will open, thanks. I looked through all the plans filed with the City and it was absent.

* Plus an extra car at least every ~30 seconds during peak times as per your very own traffic report. Do you still "expect" all this to "not be an issue" (these are your numbers and your words) for the people of Linda Mar, John?

That's Latin, Darling. Now I really hate him.
https://youtu.be/G_xLlBMhHsg

Linty Mar:

Regarding snark, res ipsa loquitor.

Ceteris paribus, I much prefer intelligent banter.

This is about as snarky as I allow for myself.

If you do not know what it means, it is Latin, look it up.

John Kontrabecki doesn’t put much stock in something created by the United States Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics – "Average weekday household vehicle trips by U.S. Census Tract (per day) as estimated in Local Area Transportation Characteristics by Household dataset" – because he doesn’t know how they gathered the data.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics website describes the data sources and includes links to the data and the methodology. "The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) developed a model that allows for Census tract estimation using the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) data along with American Community Survey (ACS) data from the Census Bureau."
Methodology for 2017 Local Area Transportation Characteristics for Households
Appendix A - Regression Models Used for Estimating Household Travel
Appendix B - Validation Results
Appendix C - Distribution of Estimated Household Travel
Appendix D - Data Dictionary
Appendix E - Regression Models Used for Estimating Household Travel by Number of Vehicles Available and Household Size

RE: snarky comments on Riptide. "This is not a forum for snarky comments." I guess John Maybury has retired. I've built my entire Riptide persona on snark. Oh the humanity!
Sad Linty

(Editor's Note: Au contraire! To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of my retirement have been greatly exaggerated. And as to Riptide editorial policy, we have never banned snark; it is our lifeblood. But we do try to be fair and balanced — like a Fox.)

Peter Loeb:

Thank you for sharing where the data you referenced previously came from. I did not know the Bureau of Transportation Statistics published this. I also do not know how they gathered the data used to derive this graphic. I do know how our traffic engineer created his data. He used traffic counting devices at key locations to do an actual physical data count. This is data that was physically collected and serves as the basis for his study.

I would place more stock in data collected locally than something created by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics in an unknown manner.

Peter George:

In your last posting, you make a good point about the new road alignment pressuring the houses. I have been speaking with the people who live on that side of the street and they have pointed this out to me. We need to take another look at street alignment and push the street in the other direction where there are far fewer homes.

As for a parking study, I do not see the need. If we get the street properly aligned, we will not be taking away parking spaces. Parking on one side of the street will remain the same as before. We will not be using the parking ourselves so we will not be adding to the parking demand. In fact, by building a parking lot in the middle of our new neighborhood in front of the community center near the start of the mountain biking trails at the top of the hill, we expect to pull people who park to ride the trails off Higgins Way and Adobe Drive. This will relieve parking demand on these streets.

We do not have an estimated evacuation time for the new neighborhood in case of a wildfire. It would depend very much on where the fire occurred and how aggressive the fire was. Our answer to the wildfire risk is to use best forestry practices to minimize the risk by clearing out kindling on the forest floor, removing dead trees, cutting fire breaks along the perimeter of the property, initiating a progressive program to plant native trees to replace the Eucalyptus over time, having a city standard road that emergency vehicles can use to get to the top of the hill to fight the fire, and constructing homes with sprinkling systems. The loop road itself and the new hiking and biking trails will create fire breaks within the property. When you add it up, this list of measures will dramatically reduce, if not eliminate, the risk of wildfire.

Another quick but important point, John. Your plans to widen Higgins (e.g., your "SHEET 48.pdf" and many others) clearly leave too little room for the folks on the north side of Higgins to park in front of their garages as they do now (even a casual observation reveals that many of the residents currently park this way). So you are demonstrably taking away that parking and thus adding yet more stressors to the parking on Higgins. I am truly baffled as to why you think a parking study is unnecessary. Everything I see here points to a parking nightmare along Higgins (and by extension Adobe) as soon as the "Woods" development starts.

Why not do a study and prove me wrong? The development can clearly afford it and you clearly believe that the results will speak in your favor. Baffled, I am, as to why we are still arguing about this when a simple cheap (by your standards) report could lay it to rest? Please publish it here once it's done, thanks.

Also, what is the estimated evacuation time for 125 car-dependent households + existing residents down Higgins in case of a wildfire? Sadly, I did not see an all-too-necessary report on that either. Please provide link. Many thanks.

"[The traffic engineer] does not know where you got your trip general ideas, but they are not grounded in traffic engineering best practices." The trip generation estimate comes from the United States Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The map linked at this Bureau site shows the average weekday household vehicle trips by U.S. Census Tract per day, as estimated in Local Area Transportation Characteristics by Household dataset. For the Pacifica area, the map shows an estimate of 5-6 weekday household vehicle trips per day.
https://www.bts.gov/surveys/national-household-travel-survey/average-weekday-household-vehicle-trips-us-census-tract-day

Julie:

Shame on you for your snarky comments. If you have something worth saying, then say it. This is not a forum for snarky comments. Those go on Facebook. This forum is for intelligent, respectful public dialogue.

Skeptical:

You quoted the relevant statement:

"The LOS calculations are based on the actual volumes entering the intersections and not on the volumes that could enter the intersections if adequate capacity was in place."

His analysis is based on actual collected traffic data and not on projections. The reference to Highway 1 future expansion is not used by him in his analysis. It is unfortunate that he mentions this, but it is not relevant to his analysis or conclusions.

Skeptical: I don’t think he thought anyone would take the time to look.

Thank you and Peter for doing it.

John, you wrote:

"I want to say that he has been a traffic engineer for many years and has a solid reputation in the field. He has also worked in San Mateo County for a long time and knows the history of Highway 1. He worked on the Highway 1 widening project with Wilsey Ham some 19 years ago and is very familiar with its history and the issues associated with it. His traffic study DOES NOT consider the widening of Highway 1 between Fassler/Rockaway and Reina del Mar as the basis for his opinions. His remarks about Highway 1 were made in passing and do not serve as the foundation for his conclusions."

First, if your engineer is very familiar with Highway 1 and the efforts to try to widen it, he would have known that the city called off these plans several years ago. This was not done in secret -- it was all publicized and it is well documented. Any truly seasoned engineer would know this.

Second, the report's observation re the effect of highway widening was not made "in passing" -- highway widening is specifically cited as the basis for concluding that the extensive queuing that already occurs on Fassler and northbound Highway 1 during the morning commute will be relieved once Highway 1 is widened, therefore the additional cars that will be on the road if "Higgens 1" is approved will not be an issue.

Once again, the report states as follows:

"Levels of Service have been calculated for the existing conditions scenario using the analysis methods contained in the 2010 Highway Capacity Manual. The results of the LOS calculations are summarized in Table B on page 8. The calculation worksheets are provided in Appendix B. The LOS calculations do not necessarily reflect the extensive queuing that occurs on westbound Fassler Avenue and northbound Route 1 during the morning peak traffic period. The LOS calculations are based on the actual volumes entering the intersections and not on the volumes that could enter the intersections if adequate capacity was in place. The City of Pacifica and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority are planning on widening Route 1 between Fassler Avenue/Rockaway Beach Avenue and Reina Del Mar Avenue from four lanes to six lanes. The
project is still in the planning stages of development. Once completed, that project will significantly reduce the queuing that presently occurs on Route 1 in the northbound direction
during the morning peak traffic period."

General arguments like yours cause people to remain skeptical, which is why we have asked you to cite specific reports/page numbers to support your assertions. If we (members of the public who come to this cold) can do it, why can't/won't you?

Finally, the lone traffic report looks at just one portion of one project -- it does not consider the cumulative effect of all the projects you have been going on in the same area. Where is THAT study?

How many parking spots in front of the community center for bikers, John? I could not tell from the maps despite a good deal of squinting (page number and PDF name, please). Also, please consult a bit more deeply with your mountain biking consultant. Any mountain biker will tell you that they wish to park at the bottom of a slope (where the downhill ends) not at the *top* of a slope. No biker I have ever met wants to *end* their ride with a steep climb back *up* to their car. So, parking or not at the top of the hill, I'd expect the mountain bikers to still want to park on Higgins. Simple common sense.

Peter Loeb, Wm. Boyce, Peter George, Skeptical, and Julie:

I have connected with the Traffic Engineer to get his thoughts on your postings questioning his work product.

But before I share this, I want to say that he has been a traffic engineer for many years and has a solid reputation in the field. He has also worked in San Mateo County for a long time and knows the history of Highway 1. He worked on the Highway 1 widening project with Wilsey Ham some 19 years ago and is very familiar with its history and the issues associated with it. His traffic study DOES NOT consider the widening of Highway 1 between Fassler/Rockaway and Reina del Mar as the basis for his opinions. His remarks about Highway 1 were made in passing and do not serve as the foundation for his conclusions.

He does not know where you got your trip general ideas, but they are not grounded in traffic engineering best practices. All of his trip generation data is based on ITE Trip Generation, 10th Edition, and is detailed in Appendix C of the report.
The baseline traffic counts used in the report were taken in the field in 2019 before the pandemic. And, according to Caltrans, no traffic counts taken after April 2020 should be used in a Traffic Impact Analysis study today.

He documented every active or pending project in the City of Pacifica development database at the time he wrote the report. This spreadsheet is included in Appendix C of the report. This included our Hillside Meadows project since it was an active application at the time the report was prepared.

Finally, as far as a parking analysis is concerned, the widening of Higgins Way is described in the report. He based his analysis on the representation we made to him that work will be done for this development to widen the road to city standards. There was no need for a parking survey as the parking on one side that currently exists would be a part of the roadway widening and would not be removed or changed.

I have indicated in previous postings that we are going to build a community center in the project with parking. We anticipate that some of the bikers using Higgins Way to park while riding on the property will park in our parking lot. This will relieve some of the pressure on parking currently experienced.

Wm. Boyce:

The forest at Linda Mar Woods has been neglected for decades and the conditions exist for a wildfire as you say. We are in an extended drought and the forest floor is covered in kindling. But the way to address the risk is not to do nothing. It is to initiate forestry management best practices. Many people in the Bay Area think Eucalyptus forests are harmless and must be protected. But our friends in Australia know better from centuries of wildfire experience in Eucalyptus forests. And our government officials know this as well. The Pacifica municipal code exempts Eucalyptus from the definition of Heritage Trees and the Planning Department permits their removal. Part of the long-term solution is systematic culling of Eucalyptus and replanting with trees that are native to California.

GOOD POINT: INSURANCE COSTS ARE REAL -- and given the horrific fires and the ongoing drought in the Pacific Northwest, wouldn't this proposed project be better off in the Midwest or eastern US?

"The insurance industry is already running for the hills (no pun intended) when it comes to California. That part of Pacifica is Tier 3, extreme fire danger on the CPUC FireMap."

Higgins Way (correct me if I'm wrong) is the only access to the proposed development. It's going to be interesting (if that's the word) in the event of a fire. Lots of forested land, brush, plenty dried out from the worst drought in 400 years; a recipe for disaster. It's unlikely that a house will catch fire internally, what with sprinklers no doubt required, but that's not where it's going to come from. How about lack of fire insurance? The insurance industry is already running for the hills (no pun intended) when it comes to California. That part of Pacifica is Tier 3, extreme fire danger on the CPUC FireMap.
https://ia.cpuc.ca.gov/firemap/

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