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July 06, 2021

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Rocky Raccoon:

Nick Lusson complained to the Pacifica Police over a $2 bandit sign. Duh? He could have called me or sent me an email because he has my contact information, but he did not.

I returned the bandit sign to Mr. Lusson, but he did not re-install the bandit sign in the middle of the path. Maybe he should not have put it there in the first place.

I have done more to clean up the trailhead at Old San Pedro Mountain Road trail than Nick Lusson and his Protect San Pedro Mountain group. True. They have done nothing to protect San Pedro Mountain.

So why is Mr. Lusson posting a video of me on Instagram and on his website? Weird.

"I was performing a public service by removing the sign from the pathway." A-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Hahahahaha. *Whew*

There is a need for new housing. The new law will make it hard for cities to turn down projects NEAR TRANSIT HUBS.

Unless you have sky buckets, a cable car, or shuttle, you are nowhere near a transit hub. The students in school, and most of your residents, will be using Peralta, Linda Mar Blvd., and surface streets to get to already crowded Highway 1.

You keep throwing statistics about working from home that have no basis in fact. Like someone who doesn't actually live here.

You have cried foul at graffiti, and blamed the other side without proof. You get caught on camera stealing a sign, and dismiss the value of the object stolen.

Wow.

Tim Stein:

I have been working to clean up the trailhead at Linda Mar Woods. I have installed a new monument sign, painted the gate, replaced all the rusted-out signs, installed a new sign with distance markers to various parks, installed an e-bike sign, installed a new no-parking sign, placed a garbage can at the gate, and picked up a lot of garbage and dog poop bags.

Unfortunately, my good works have not always been appreciated. The monument sign was vandalized with graffiti and the e-bike sign was destroyed. I have renovated the monument sign, removed the e-bike sign, and installed a trail camera to keep an eye on the entrance to Linda Mar Woods. Since installing the trailhead camera, at the recommendation of the Pacifica Police, and announcing it on social media, there has been no more vandalism.

During this time, a group calling itself "Protect San Pedro Mountain" has posted bandit signs along both sides of Higgins Way promoting themselves and their cause. The organizer is Nick Lusson and they are classic NIMBYs. The property is nowhere near San Pedro Mountain and their real agenda is to preserve Higgins Way as their private dead-end street by stopping any residential development in Linda Mar Woods. Members of this group also posted bandit signs on the Linda Mar Woods property. When I asked Mr. Lusson to remove them, he refused, so I did so myself. I learned never to expect cooperation from Mr. Lusson, so I no longer consult with him on anything.

One day when I was visiting the trailhead at Linda Mar Woods, I noticed a new bandit sign was placed in the middle of the pathway near the gate. It was obvious to me that it interfered with the path the mountain bikers and hikers use to enter the property. I knew it was going to be knocked over and turned into trash sooner than later, so as I was departing I removed the sign and put it in my car. Shortly thereafter, I received a call from the Pacifica Police Department informing me that Nick Lusson had lodged a complaint against me for stealing a bandit sign. I discussed the situation with the police officer and told him he was being played by Mr. Lusson who was attempting to create a controversy over a $2 bandit sign. The officer said Mr. Lusson graciously offered not to press charges if I returned the sign and apologized to him. I then returned the sign to the police and the matter was dropped, until Mr. Lusson posted his video on Instagram and made accusations against me. Mr. Lusson does not seem to understand that I was performing a public service by removing the sign from the pathway. I imagine he understands now because he did not put the sign back where it was previously located. His posting the video is just one more skirmish in his guerrilla warfare campaign against Linda Mar Woods.

The more interesting question is why would someone go to the Police Department over a $2 bandit sign? You will have to ask Mr. Lusson.

Peter George:

No streetcars. I was describing the history of residential development and how we ended up with tract housing. It was the development of the automobile that resulted in tract housing where every house is the same in design. Streetcars did not create mixed-density neighborhoods. They have existed since the time of the Greeks.

I am making arguments about Linda Mar Woods based upon factual evidence. I have completed studies in civil engineering, biology, geology, traffic engineering, etc. I am also speaking more broadly in my posts about the rapid increase in change caused by the impact of Covid and the evolution of computer technology. Most employers with large staffs of office workers have switched to hybrid work where the employee works from home 40% of the time. This cuts commuting time by 40%. I am also noting the transition to electric cars and the evolution of Uber and Lyft and the impact on car ownership and use. Finally, I have offered my thoughts on how Pacifica can improve the quality of life for its residents.

“Fortunately, it is the Planning Commission and City Council that will approve the project. They will take the time to investigate the facts and judge the project on the merits. They are obligated to approve projects that conform to the law. Our application when completed will conform to both state and Pacifica law applicable to the project. We will not be asking for variances or changes in the law to get approval.“

Last time I checked, City Council and Planning Commission are subject to the will of the voters. Not out-of-town developers.

“From 2010 to 2019 the Pacifica population of infants (<5 years old) increased by 48%. And the number of people 25-34 (for the sake of argument, we'll call that child-bearing age) increased by 14%. And yet you say that that the schools of Pacifica will be LESS burdened by enrollment in the future? Very odd.”

Thank you, Peter George.

I wondered if the couple with the new baby moving in next door to us, and the couple who moved into the home on the other side of them, with a preschooler, were figments of our imagination.

Waiting breathlessly for the cable car news, first responder/minimum wage jobs you can do from home (all this time these emails went to spam, who knew?), and the rest. As told by someone who doesn’t live here, and never lies.

Also the theft of the sign. Already a drain on our resources, like the Pacifica P.D.

Following the developer's playbook is designed to get approvals from government for projects. Statements by developers do not need to be factual or perceptive. So-called "visions" do not need to incorporate local or historic knowledge. Self-cloaking oneself with a mantle of authority and expertise is done without credentials or a record of competence relevant to the project or locale at hand. The goals sought by doggedly maintaining the fictional babble in the face of real-world conditions on the ground and people who have seen this game played multiple times before followed by the negative consequences of allowing developers to have their way are to get approvals by government and to keep public opposition dampened somewhat by directing attention to rosy-colored holograms in the fictional vapor.

At this stage of the game there is a lot of wet cement being slung against walls to see what sticks. One is likely to see some minor concessions made as a result, with the developer touting its flexibility and sensitivity. Those concessions might well be ones the developer had in mind from the start as part of the PR effort, and they give persons in local government already chin (or double-chin) deep in local real-estate-industry favoritism little excuses, largely without substance, to look favorably on a project. The developer's playbook contains a lot on greasing the skids.

One can't even tell what the developer's eventual bottom line might be. This game is, after all, played in pursuit of as much profit as eventually can be squeezed out of the effort. The vagueness in the plans, the ignorance of local conditions, all allow for adjustments down the line. Map lines might be moved a bit. The number of units might be reduced modestly, with accompanying inflated statements about being less of a burden on local resources (the water questions alone comprise a sub-game) and more amenable to local infrastructure. Nowadays it is so common for developers to ask for more than they actually expect at the end of the approval that anyone familiar with the gambit is left to eye-rolling as the oh-so-"generous" plays are made along the way.

Further down the line, as projects gain approvals and permits, many developers will consider their job done and sell developments to builders. The people responsible for all the grandiose language put in play might not be around when the bulldozers roll, walls go up, and hardscaping covers a place. And as contractors and subcontractors are farther and farther away from the creation of the magic pictures painted to get approvals, many details that once seemed vital will be overlooked and anything--such as concocted feel-good philosophies and generous personal assurances--not pinned down in written specifics with no room between the lines will become immaterial, if not completely forgotten. Regulatory inaction rules once an approved project gains sufficient momentum.

Pacifica is full--overflowing, actually. Vital resources, such as freshwater, are already insecure and their sources unsustainable. Infrastructure is already clogged on a daily basis and impossible for periods when huge numbers of outsiders visit. Almost all food must be imported in competition with the vast majority of Californians who must also import food into their urban enclaves; and this food is grown in vast, water-sucking, chemically embellished, environment-degrading (and, thus, unsustainable) monocultures. One can go on and on for every aspect of existence needed for a decent quality of life. Yeah, that includes housing. The time is long past when Pacifica, like almost all other California cities large and small, should have redirected its efforts to getting better instead of bigger. Many Pacificans are well aware of this.

John, so are you now suggesting you will build a streetcar to "The Woods"? Will it serve all of Pacifica, or just that hill? Odd, because I see no mention of that on www.lindamarwoods.com. Is this coming as part of the Vision?

No, as usual you use false equivalence to try to support a flimsy argument. Pacifica is not San Francisco. And you are building a neighborhood wholly car-dependent on the urban fringe in a Tier 3 Wildfire zone -- a sprawl development very much at home in 1971.

Incidentally, you are entirely wrong when you say that the future Pacifica has fewer children, not more. I really wish you would do your research before you just post claims based on your gut instincts, John. For example, compare the following:

https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=pacifica,%20ca&tid=ACSDP5Y2019.DP05

https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=pacifica,%20ca&tid=ACSDP5Y2010.DP05

From 2010 to 2019 the Pacifica population of infants (<5 years old) increased by 48%. And the number of people 25-34 (for the sake of argument, we'll call that child-bearing age) increased by 14%. And yet you say that that the schools of Pacifica will be LESS burdened by enrollment in the future? Very odd.

John, your insistence on offering viewpoints based on your gut instincts and not facts (you've now done this for traffic, parking, sewer, wildfire risk, and now school enrollment) calls into question every single claim you make. It's very unprofessional, and frankly downright odd. It took me literally three minutes to find the above facts, and yet this is supposed to be your job! You are the one making millions from this -- and yet you can't be bothered to search the web for 30 seconds before you type? It is easy to see why the community treats your outreach with some skepticism, even with you as the developments' community outreach professional.

So, John Kontrabecki, I'm sure many of us Pacificans would love to hear your side of the story regarding the video of you stealing a Protect San Pedro yard sign from someone's property on Higgins, and then how the PPD got you to return it?

Rocky Raccoon:

"You can fool all the people part of the time, or you can fool some people all the time, but you cannot fool all people all the time." (Abraham Lincoln)

I intend to have this conversation for as long as it takes to have the facts known among the majority of people in Pacifica who are interested in learning the facts. Eventually, the misinformation out there about Linda Mar Woods will be overcome with facts. There are already plenty of people who are generally in support of what we are proposing. They are not posting on social media.

Fortunately, it is the Planning Commission and City Council that will approve the project. They will take the time to investigate the facts and judge the project on the merits. They are obligated to approve projects that conform to the law. Our application when completed will conform to both state and Pacifica law applicable to the project. We will not be asking for variances or changes in the law to get approval.

Julie:

I am not insulting, demeaning, or embellishing reality. I am politely offering my understanding of conditions in Pacifica. This is supported by studies I have had performed by professionals in biology, traffic engineering, civil engineering, etc. I have also pointed at Half Moon Bay as an example of a community that has tackled the problem of community vitality to create a pleasant downtown with locally owned shops, a new Civic Center, housing choices, a variety of nice restaurants, etc. You clearly have a different point of view and I respect that. But I do not insult you because you do.

You are looking at the world through a rearview mirror. Life is changing and the change has been accelerated by Covid. Transportation is moving to electric cars, Uber and Lyft, and car-sharing services. Work has already moved to a hybrid model for office workers, where they work from home two out of five days a week. It will take time, but families will find owning three vehicles per household to be a waste of money and will revert to one vehicle per household. Family members love being able to spend more time off the freeway at home, even if it means working at home.

The homes we are building will be targeting people who live in Pacifica who enjoy outdoor recreation. After all, we are developing the homes in a forest that we are going to preserve with hiking and biking trails we are going to expand. There are already hundreds of people who walk and ride there every week. These people are my future customers.

The Pacifica population is aging rapidly. The majority of residents are over the age of 40, so more housing does not translate into more school attendance. The existing infrastructure can support more housing. We will have to submit for public review and comment an economic impact report that will substantiate this.

Peter George:

Thank you for posting such good questions. They reveal that you have not visited our website at www.lindamarwoods.com. On the website, we talk about the kind of housing we want to develop. Because of the Planned Development zoning, we have to start with getting a single-family detached housing map approved. But this is not the ultimate outcome we are pursuing. Our intention is to create an economically integrated community with a variety of housing types. These will include single-family detached, duplex homes, groups of attached townhomes, and homes with flats. The total number of homes will be capped and the way they will be built will be in mixed clusters. By increasing the density, we can lower the cost per unit and sell them at lower prices. The idea is to create a variety of structures that are architecturally harmonious while offering different housing choices. This is not a novel idea. It is the way we used to develop in the 19th century when streetcars were prevalent before the automobile became the dominant source of personal transportation. If you drive down Pine Street or Fell Street in San Francisco, you will see single-family, duplex, and flats intermingled. The new legislation coming out of Sacramento is encouraging more density in housing to address the housing crises. Linda Mar Woods is consistent with this goal.

"Read the room." Great comment. Advice to developer about holes: When you're in one, stop digging.

John: You are quick to accuse people of being on the "wrong side of history." But what of "The Woods" as a Single Family Residential development (or something very much like it)? The drumbeat we are hearing from Sacramento is that the SFR zoning so prevalent in the past century was a mistake. And SB9 and SB10 are aiming to dismantle that. Why then are you adding to this mistake with your sprawling SFR proposal? Surely that puts "The Woods" on the "wrong side of history," no? All things considered (SFR zoning, car dependence, water stress, sewer stress, wildfire danger, grading footprint, traffic stress, environmental degradation, etc.), your proposal looks far more at home in 1971 than in 2021. Why not read the room and apply your talents to a development a little more in step with the 21st century and the challenges we are all facing? Maybe then the host community would actually support it? And please don't point to contrived online surveys to try to prove that the community does support "The Woods" as it stands -- just don't. You, in your community outreach role, have near-zero credibility left playing that tune. And I have a survey that proves it :-)

“You are also playing identity politics by labeling me as a 'newcomer' who does not know or understand Pacifica. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to see things as they are and what they could be. I have lived in Northern California for 40 years and I am no stranger. I do not have to live in Pacifica to see both its beauty and areas for improvement. My previous comments about the need for infrastructure improvements, a new civic center, and the creation of a 'downtown' do not require living in Pacifica to recognize as ideas worth considering. I would add to the list the renovation of existing community shopping centers to the standards found in other Bay Area cities.“

None of that is going to happen before your community gets built. There will be at least two automobiles per household. Probably three, more likely.

Just as the shopping center renovations and infrastructure improvements won’t be completed, where are those couple of hundred cars going to go?

There are no more district schools here. You aren’t going to change that. IBL Middle School. Oceana. Good Shepherd. Ocean Shore. SI. Serra. There won’t be a highway-widening project. Two lanes northbound and two lanes southbound, after Linda Mar Blvd. or Peralta.

Employers are calling people back to those leased buildings. Don’t say it isn’t true. The commute is back. I do it every day. Nurses, firefighters, teachers, your prospective buyers aren’t remote employees, and won’t be.

This can’t be supported by the present infrastructure. You won’t change that. Same number of fire stations, police stations, and personnel. Same sewers and system. Same roads and highways.

You can’t duplicate what works elsewhere with the limits here. As much as you try to insult, demean, embellish the reality.

Maybe you should try Half Moon Bay. Or inland.

Carl May:

It appears from your latest comment that you have not visited our website at www.lindamarwoods.com because what you have presented as "facts" are opinions not based on facts. You do not know the details about our project. This development is not "obviously artificial (not natural), urban, and takes over the place for which it is sought." The project includes conservation of natural resources, restoration of recreational amenities, and housing integrated into the existing forest. It also includes wild-fire mitigation and affordable housing. Please go to the website and inform yourself.

You are also playing identity politics by labeling me as a "newcomer" who does not know or understand Pacifica. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to see things as they are and what they could be. I have lived in Northern California for 40 years and I am no stranger. I do not have to live in Pacifica to see both its beauty and areas for improvement. My previous comments about the need for infrastructure improvements, a new civic center, and the creation of a "downtown" do not require living in Pacifica to recognize as ideas worth considering. I would add to the list the renovation of existing community shopping centers to the standards found in other Bay Area cities.

I doubt whether you have actually had to comply with CEQA and are unaware of how rigorous it is. The amount of effort and cost required to complete a CEQA review for even a simple project is one of the reasons why we have a housing shortage in California. The CEQA process is frequently manipulated by NIMBYs to block worthy projects from moving forward.

This development is obviously artificial (not natural), urban, and takes over the place for which it is sought. Such simple facts don't change just because the developer's playbook dictates wrapping projects in a made-up, self-defined illusion. Following along, we are informed that the benevolent developer is only trying to provide us with visionary and inspirational proposals for Pacifica, as if his newcomer's approach will provide what he sees is lacking and fill a void for such things in the poor dull-witted city. All will be allowed under CEQA, that holiest (and most manipulated) of government standards that is, we novices are informed, entirely adequate for assessing environmental acceptability in spite of all that it does not cover and the many exemptions allowed under it. Why, CEQA is so holy that the many assaults on what it does actually cover, such as SB9 and SB10 signed by the Governor in the past week, are as the squawks of a few radical environmentalists against the march of urban progress.

Carl May:

Aren't you judgmental? You wrote: "[H]ow a degrading artificial urban takeover of a place through 'change' in that direction is the way communities should go. This self-serving line, his 'philosophy,' can work only on people who are environmentally and socially ignorant, and is 'universal.'"

Note the strawman arguments:

1. "Artificial urban takeover of a place." I never advocated for this. The kind of renewal I am suggesting is not urban and it is not a takeover. I am proposing sustainable renovation, redevelopment, and repurposing on existing sites and infill sites. As Joe says: "Build back better."

2. "Self-serving line." I am a real estate developer and have the technical skills to renovate, redevelop, and repurpose real estate. But I am not suggesting these activities take place only on sites I own, but throughout the community, wherever it is needed. This is not self-serving. My ideas are intended to be visionary and inspirational for those who are interested. There are those who live in decay and seem to prefer it, and they are free to live as free men and women in their own squalor.

3. "Work only on people who are environmentally and socially ignorant." You seem not to know that almost every project in California has to go through a CEQA review before it can be approved. No one can say with a straight face that projects get approved by environmentally and socially ignorant people. There are far too many interested people showing up at Planning Commission and City Council hearings for this to take place.

4. I guess you are the smartest person in the room and the rest of the population is environmentally and socially ignorant. That is quite a statement.

Notice how Mr. Kontrabecki once again tries to lay out the standards for what is "good" and how a degrading artificial urban takeover of a place through "change" in that direction is the way communities should go. This self-serving line, his "philosophy," can work only on people who are environmentally and socially ignorant, and is "universal," if it is at all, only among people trying to justify their particular developments. It has no particular relevance to Pacifica. Pacificans have seen it numerous times before (and have experienced its gross failures), and it works only with local politicians and government staff who are tied to and/or friendly with the real estate and developer industries.

Tim Stein:

Sometimes it takes fresh eyes to see things as they are. I have mentioned in other posts that Half Moon Bay is an example for Pacificans to consider. It has all the things I listed in my response to Carl May. My point is all communities need to continuously evolve or fade away, regardless of where they are. This is a universal concept.

John:
Your last paragraph response to Carl May makes it clear you're not a Pacifican and don't know much about us or our history.
For you to come here and preach to us about how we need to do this and we need this to do that is pretty bold for a representative of yet another out-of-town developer who just wants to make money by developing our hillsides.

Carl May:

I direct my remarks by name in response to specific comments made by the author. I am having a public conversation with the writer of the comments. This is public discourse and is appropriate. If this is bothersome to you, I will stop naming you in the responses I write.

You make references in your latest post to "growth in an overgrown place is somehow 'good' without need to account for limits of resource availability, infrastructure capacity, negative tax consequences for cities that went with almost every residential development over the past 50 years, direct negative physical impacts on the already over-strained urban environment, and failure to account for the maintenance and repair costs of new development and its associated infrastructure into the indefinite future." Are you referring to Pacifica or is this some abstract comment that may apply to other communities around the world?

First, Pacifica is not "overgrown." There has been little growth in Pacifica over the past 30 years. The population of the city has grown 3 percent since 1990 and there has been very little new residential construction over this period.

Second, you talk about "limits of resource availability, infrastructure capacity, and negative tax consequences on the already over-strained urban environment." Again, are you writing about Pacifica? Pacifica is not an "over-strained environment." The only resource that is limited in Pacifica is funding for the city government. The infrastructure capacity is adequate and is supplemented incrementally with any new project that is constructed. There have been no negative tax consequences to new development in Pacifica. There has been very little new residential development in Pacifica over the past 50 years. Additionally, new development adds to the tax base at current market prices and brings in sales tax revenues. The negative tax consequences to Pacifica and other cities come from the property owners and businesses that avoid paying their fair share of the tax burden due to Proposition 13.

Third, your comment that there is a "failure to account for the maintenance and repair costs of new development and its associated infrastructure into the indefinite future" is inaccurate. Every new planned residential development has to form a homeowners association that assumes full financial responsibility for all infrastructure within the community other than infrastructure whose ownership is given to the municipality or utility company. When the subdivisions in Linda Mar were created in the 1960s, they too had homeowners associations, but they appear to be non-functioning. I have investigated this because I have made offers to purchase a home there and have reviewed the CC&Rs. It is within the power of the homeowners in these subdivisions to restart the homeowners associations and raise funding for infrastructure maintenance with the subdivision.

I understand what "sustainability" means and the facts do not support your dystopian views. Pacifica needs redevelopment in the form of renovation, repurposing, and new construction throughout the city to remain a vital community in pursuit of a quality life. The city needs a downtown where people can gather and support local businesses. The city needs to plan for repurposing of industrial sites along the coast that are better suited for residential use. The city needs more affordable housing and multigenerational housing for seniors and extended families. The city needs a new civic center that enables city government to work for the public in a quality environment. There are many other areas where the city's physical environment can be improved for the benefit of the community. None of this happens unless the will and effort to redevelop is present.

Dan, wasn't that holding tank installed because the ancient laterals leak so much rainwater into the system that it overloads the pump? (Some of those laterals allegedly were even rolled-up tarpaper when the pipes didn't arrive with sufficient speed as the valley was being built out. Possibly another Pacifica legend.)

I was always under the impression it was the laterals that are the problem. Am I wrong, or is it a moot point?

Oh, shame on me for addressing remarks toward Mr. Kontrabecki, who has no reserve in directing his remarks by name to me and others. Objections to environmentally and socially destructive development are, once again, "dystopian," using his assumed definition of the word to counter objectivity. Due to an almost religious faith, growth in an overgrown place is somehow "good" without need to account for limits of resource availability, infrastructure capacity, negative tax consequences for cities that went with almost every residential development over the past 50 years, direct negative physical impacts on the already over-strained urban environment, and failure to account for the maintenance and repair costs of new development and its associated infrastructure into the indefinite future. The term "sustainability," as it is so often used by developers and governments, is slung against the wall like wet cement to see if it will stick in the greenwashing effort without providing the slightest inkling the user knows what it actually means. In fact, shame on all who do not become worshipful, glassy-eyed Pollyannas while being conned by the routines in the developer's playbook.

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