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July 06, 2021

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"[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/

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

There is a lot to unpack here to respond to your comments. I am going to speak with our traffic engineer and get his thoughts as he is the expert. I take your comments seriously and need to do my research to respond appropriately. You will hear back from me in a few days.

One bit I can share is we have considered parking on Higgins would continue, albeit on a widened street allowing for proper vehicle passage. We planned for the mountain bikers to begin their ride at the top of the hill in the parking lot located in front of the community center in the middle of the neighborhood.

Re: traffic counts. The conservative figure that traffic engineers use to calculate the number of vehicle trips per day per household is a multiplier of 5. So, 125 units x 5 = 625 additional vehicle trips per day for the Higgins Way project at buildout. Add 18 units for the Hillside Meadows project x 5 = 90. Add 54 units of the Pacifica Highlands project x 5 = 270. Higgins Phase 1 and 2 + Hillside Meadows + Pacifica Highlands = 985 additional vehicle trips per day. Other traffic analyses may use a larger multiplier, but a conservative estimate is around a thousand new vehicle trips per day added by all these projects if they were to happen.

I had to laugh when I saw this in the traffic report: "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." This is false. That project is not on the books. Caltrans shelved highway widening after it was sued in federal court and lost. The City Council sent a letter formally asking Caltrans to withdraw the project. If the traffic report is depending on highway widening in its analysis, its conclusions are wrong.

Wow, I know Higgins Way from past experience and that is one substandard street if I've ever seen one. I feel for the people who live there; once this large development is approved by our wholly owned, real estate industry subsidiary City Council, the Higgins Way folks will be scarewed.

Here is the traffic report link (actually all the reports, look for the one with the appropriate name). If this is the wrong link, John, then fine, correct me. But you can't say "Peter George is posting incorrect information" without posting a link to the correct information. That would be a really fast way to lose credibility. I know it does not work like that in court, and it does not work like that here either.

https://cityofpacifica.egnyte.com/fl/OsNWsZ01tl#folder-link/Digital%20Plans/3%20-%2020210630

Some highlights (Appendix C): Meadows + Woods = up to 100 extra car trips an hour. And that is only phase one of Woods. So in round figures, let's say up to 150 trips an hour at peak once Woods Phase 2 is built out, too. One vehicle every 24 seconds. John, maybe you live in a San Francisco home with such a large setup back that you would not notice an *extra* car going past every 24 seconds? But please don't patronize the people of the southern side of Linda Mar saying that you "expect" one *extra* car (on top of current conditions) every 24 seconds "is not an issue". It is. You lose all respect by trying to brush this away. Even without Phase 2, it is an extra car every 36 seconds at peak. These are your reported numbers, John, not mine. So don't try to distance yourself from them -- and if I'm wrong, then post links to the correct data, not a blanket unsubstantiated dismissal.

An *extra* vehicle every 36 seconds at peak just with Phase One. And this is without any ongoing construction traffic (which could last up to ten years, per John).

And please don't use the tired "These are two/three separate projects" divide-and-conquer approach, John: Yes, of course they are. But the traffic impact is not "separate things" for current residents -- it is one thing. At least own that.

Another note for anyone reading the report: Take all the Highway 1 numbers and conclusions with a grain of salt since this report does not include the proposed 50+ new homes at Rockaway. Might be other proposals missing, too. The proposed church at Cape Breton is not mentioned, for instance. John will say these other proposals were not available at the time the "Woods" traffic report was written -- which is fair and true. But it means that the report cannot be fully trusted on the Highway 1 numbers for this reason.

Also, John, where are you proposing the residents, trail goers, and school goers of Higgins park if you are proposing limiting parking along Higgins? Is it true that the widening of Higgins would take significant land (maybe 10 feet?) away that folks currently use that land for parking in front of their homes on the north side of Higgins? Nowhere in the 338 pages (yes, 338 pages, dear reader) did I see a parking analysis along Higgins. Did I miss it? If so, what's the page number, John? If it is not there, then as a good neighbor you could not propose to take parking away on a heavily used residential street without studying it first, right? Please post a link to your report, because I'm pretty sure it is not on the city website.

John -- Interesting that you would accuse someone else of creating straw man arguments at the same time you point to a statistic re unvaccinated people to defend your refusal to provide specific citations to the evidence you claim supports your arguments. Noted.

[Sidebar -- I can pretty much guarantee you that the people who will be fighting your developments in court are vaccinated (because they are intelligent and well informed).]

As for your claim that plan-related documents are well organized, thus we should spend our time trying to find the evidence you claim supports YOUR arguments -- for fun, I spent a few minutes looking for the traffic study that reflects the assertions you have made here. The only document that sounds like it pertains to traffic is titled "Higgens 1 traffic report." I am not sure what Higgens 1 is, but it is described as an "80 lot, single family detached residential subdivision off of Higgins Way in the Linda Mar area of Pacifica." Eighty single-family homes is not the 150 + units under discussion, so this appears to be a partial study at best.

Then there is this quote from the study (which is dated May 2020):

"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.

This text (from the traffic study) sounds like assumptions about traffic were made based upon a plan to widen Highway 1. Can you please tell us more about what you think this plan is? The one the traffic study based its assumptions on in May 2020? Inquiring minds want to know how well informed this traffic study actually is.

Skeptical:

The reason why we have public document disclosure for real estate development projects in California is to provide members of the public the opportunity to inform themselves on the projects under consideration for approval by the local government. Accessing this information is easy. It is organized in a very logical way. If a person is having a problem navigating the city website, they can call the Planning Department, which will assist them.

If a person is not willing to click through to the documents or call the Planning Department for assistance, then maybe they are not really interested in educating themselves about the factual details of the project. Some people have uninformed opinions and do not want to invest the time and effort to learn the facts. It is the primary reason why 30% of the country has yet to get vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus.

I intend to make the education process easy for everyone. For those people who have visited our website at www.lindamarwoods.com and left their email addresses, I intend to invite them to online videoconferences that I call town hall meetings. In these meetings, I will be listening to their comments and answering their questions about the development plans I have submitted. The participants will have all the time they need to learn about the project. I will be starting the town hall meetings soon.

Julie:

In response to your post, the San Francisco Chronicle reported this morning:

"Two-thirds of companies in the region expect fewer people in the office once the pandemic ends. The shift could lead to a permanent drop of 1.1 million commuters a day, according to the Bay Area Council."

Our vision for Linda Mar Woods is economic integration. There will be a variety of houses for people with different incomes. Yes, some people living there will continue to commute to work. But most will probably work from home two days per week. This represents a 40% drop in commuters per week.

What is the relationship between vandalism and a public discussion about a proposed residential real estate development?

Are you saying I made this up? Go to the entrance at the end of Higgins and you can see for yourself.

On one hand, we should not worry about traffic because your buyers will be working from home; on the other hand, you will be catering to schoolteachers, firefighters, police officers, and other first responders, who, by definition, cannot work from home. Noted.

Also, there are plenty of ways you could guide people to the documents you claim support the statements you are making here, including putting those documents on your website, then linking to the pages/studies/etc. here. The fact that you respond to valid questions by telling people to go hunt for the evidence you claim supports your position -- without providing anything more than the vaguest citation to a mass of documents on a city website -- speaks volumes. You are a lawyer, correct? Is that how you would respond to a judge? Again, noted.

The more you talk, the less credible you sound.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Protect-San-Pedro-Mountain-100877235422185/posts/

They also have a Facebook page. Haven't seen any inaccuracies yet.

How extraordinary! Nonresident developer corrects residents who live here and experience traffic every single day. Predicts most will be working from home. How many low-income residents targeted in your sales pitch have the luxury of working from home?

Vandalism is terrible. The Quarry owners started reporting vandalism, too, when their arguments weren't hitting home.

Peter George:

Further to our conversation about the traffic impact of new development in Linda Mar, the Silicon Valley Business Times reported today that a plurality of employers in the Bay Area are expecting employees to work from home two days a week going forward. This is what I think will be the new normal.

The reasons are the pandemic has proven there is no loss of productivity by employees working from home, it is highly desired by employees, it reduces stress on employees, and the amount of office space needed by employers is reduced so it lowers overhead cost.

Peter George:

I want to thank you for your civility. It is clear that you are skeptical about the development I am proposing. Your questions and comments have been thoughtfully presented. I appreciate that.

Last week someone opposing this development vandalized and defaced a monument sign I had constructed at the entry to Linda Mar Woods. The sign was a work of art built to U.S. National Park standards that cost $8,000. This is part of an effort I have started to clean up access to the woods. I am creating a new and improved trailhead for hikers and mountain bikers. So far I have repainted the gate and replaced the signage affixed to the gate at the southern end of Higgins Way. I have also repainted the fence next to Shamrock Ranch at the northern end of Higgins Way and cleared out overgrown tree branches constricting the pathway to Higgins Way. My next step is to organize an initiative to make repairs to Old San Pedro Mountain Road by cutting back the overgrown bushes and weeds that are choking the path and filling in the potholes with gravel. I have identified several locations where I think I can create overlooks with benches where hikers can take a break and enjoy the ocean and valley views. My objective is to improve access to Linda Mar Woods and the quality of the experience for both hikers and mountain bikers.

There is an organization called "Protect San Pedro Mountain" that is opposing this development. They have a website and an Instagram account where they are spreading false information about the project and inciting the recreational community by saying we are going to shut down access to the woods and destroy the mountain biking pathways and amenities constructed by the mountain bikers. We are not shutting anything down. We are doing the opposite. We are cleaning up and restoring long-neglected features and making the experience of Linda Mar Woods more accessible, better, and free for everyone.

Peter George:

I do not have links to the reports you are asking about. Our files are on private storage devices or private cloud service accounts. The files were sent to the Planning Department, and they are publicly available there.

Our traffic analysis was conducted using traffic counting devices, so it is based on hard data, not gut feeling.

As for my gut feeling, I tried to anticipate future events based upon the most current data available. It is too early to collect hard data using traffic counting devices to establish behavioral patterns of drivers in a post-pandemic world. But I do get out and about and see with my own eyes what is happening. I can tell you as a fact from personal observation that traffic is much lighter now and has been throughout the pandemic period in the Bay Area and in particular on Highway 1 in Pacifica. This is not a gut feeling. The question is whether this is the beginning of a new way of life, and I think it is.

The number of homes planned at Linda Mar Woods is 125. At Hillside Meadows it is 20 without counting the ADUs. The two projects are not connected. The Linda Mar Woods project is an outdoor recreation-oriented project. The Hillside Meadows project is a multigenerational housing development. It is intended to provide housing for families with aging parents who want to offer elder care within the home by the extended family.

It is unfair to compare the traffic volume on Higgins, Peralta, and Adobe today with traffic after the projects are built, assuming that the condition of the streets is the same as it is today. There is no question that Higgins is a substandard street. Higgins does not meet minimal city engineering standards and is too narrow. It is already congested south of Adobe Drive. Going north, Higgins is a one-block dead end, so there is no traffic flow. The road in front of Shamrock Ranch is used as a driveway, not a street. To build Hillside Meadows, we are going to remove the barrier blocking Higgins and build a proper road to connect to both Adobe and Peralta. The new road will handle traffic from 20 new homes easily and there will be no traffic impact on the community. At Linda Mar Woods, we have to either widen Higgins south of Adobe or prevent street parking on Higgins, or (most likely) a combination of widening and limiting street parking to enable smooth traffic flow and allow traffic to move properly. Our traffic engineer has determined with hard data that both projects will have little traffic impact if Higgins is rebuilt to proper city standards. It is like Safeway when it is moderately busy and there is only one checkout open. Customers get queued up and it is a disaster. But this is an artificial chokepoint. If you open more checkouts, suddenly the queue disappears. This is the same with Higgins. Currently, you have a substandard road with a dead end that blocks traffic flow to Peralta. When the road is rebuilt to proper city standards and the chokepoint removed, traffic will flow smoothly. This is a fact.

As for how many years of construction, that is different for Hillside Meadows and Linda Mar Woods. Both projects will be built in phases, with the first phase being the construction of the road and infrastructure. Since the projects are not connected and Hillside is further along in design, I expect the opening of Higgins and the construction of the road connecting Adobe and Peralta to happen first. The homes will then be constructed in two or three phases. At Linda Mar Woods, the construction of the new loop road and the widening of the existing road will probably take place at the same time. Thereafter, the homes will be constructed in phases, which could take place between five and ten years, depending upon housing demand and the state of the economy.

I do not know how many truck journeys will be required to build each project. To a large degree, this will be determined by the method of construction used. I have been researching using either a panelized or modular construction method where large sections of each home are factory built and brought to the site to be assembled. This is faster, cheaper, and involves less truck traffic. The architect I am using is Toby Long and he is an expert in this kind of housing construction. Look him up at https://www.cleverhomes.net.

Trying to compare the two projects to a hypothetical high-density development near transit, services, and access is an exercise in futility. I support this kind of development, but the General Plan and zoning laws do not. State Senator Scott Wiener and others have been pushing hard in the state Legislature for laws that will overrule local General Plan and zoning prohibitions to encourage high-density development like this without success so far.

We have a housing shortage in California that the state has determined is a public emergency. We must build new housing where we have in-fill sites that can be easily connected to utilities. Both Hillside Meadows and Linda Mar Woods meet these criteria and are suitable sites for housing development. This is not a situation where stopping the development of new housing is the best option for the community. New housing is the only option.

Unfortunately for the people of Pacifica, John, traffic patterns don't follow your gut impressions. But thankfully, traffic patterns are easily recorded, and recent actual numbers (not the gut impressions of optimistic property developers) show traffic volumes now close to, or exceeding, pre-pandemic levels. For example (one of many reports one can easily find based on actual numbers, not gut impressions; links to source data at this URL):

https://sfist.com/2021/04/12/bay-area-traffic-is-fully-back-and-on-one-east-bay-bridge-its-worse-than-pre-covid/

And do you really think that the folks living on Peralta and Adobe should accept the word of the property developer that 150+ new units (or what the total of Meadows + Woods both phases + whatever including all the ADUs is -- please correct me, you know the exact number, I don't) will generate no "issues" on their streets? You said yourself, "We have studied the hell out of this." As well you should. So why not post links to your expert traffic reports here, rather than telling each of us to individually go and find them for ourselves in the warren of the city website? You must have the URLs right in front of you.

Tell us, how many truck journeys alone in the years of construction would your developments generate? And for that matter, how many years of construction? You must know the numbers -- it's your job, and you studied the hell out of it. So simply tell us, since you "expect" they are "not an issue" and thus nothing to fear. Call me cynical, but I'd rather see the expert reports rather than basing this on the property developer's "expectations." Thanks.

For an added bonus, would you please compare and contrast those numbers with the car traffic/truck traffic projections from a hypothetical high-density development not on a slope/hilltop, or a dead-end road on the suburban fringe, but rather near transit, services, access etc. Few can argue the need for more housing in our area. But there are so many negatives to the "Woods" location (slope, grading, wildlife impacts, recreational impacts, oversize footprint, access, traffic, water, fire risk, median cost, viewshed impacts, the list is near-endless, as others have pointed out far better than I). Thus it is only right and proper therefore to compare and contrast your "Woods" to an equal number of housing units in a different locale. Because at the end of the day, provision of housing units is the main motivation, right?

Peter George:

You can find the traffic engineer's report on the Pacifica Planning Department's project website.

I do not agree with your premise that all traffic from Higgins will default to Peralta. I think it will select the route that will get the driver to the place he or she wants to go the fastest. That is determined by the relative demand at a given time of day on Peralta vs. Adobe.

I also think we are going through a fundamental change in work as a result of the pandemic. Every major employer in the Bay Area has instituted some kind of work-at-home policy. This has reduced traffic loads all around the US and in Pacifica. I have experienced this firsthand. Also, retailing has changed, with more people opting to shop online, having products delivered to the home. This includes Amazon, Target, Safeway, and local retailers as well. Finally, many people are opting to have food delivered to their homes by Uber Eats and other food restaurant delivery services. It is now very important to have reliable broadband so we can all use these services.

Another interesting trend is the explosive growth in electric bicycles. I own two and ride them as often as I can. They can be used for local commuting and shopping. Pacifica has made a serious effort to improve bike lanes throughout the city.

I do not expect to see traffic as an issue in the development planned for west Linda Mar.

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