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July 06, 2021

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Mr. Kontrabecki:
Your accusation that the statements made by local activists are comparable to the actions of the Nazis is as disgraceful as it is historically insupportable and morally reprehensible. The deportation of Jews to their deaths by a totalitarian, racist, antisemitic regime stands as an unmatched horrific time in modern history. To compare this to the efforts of those who want to engage in shaping growth policy and conservation of our environment cheapens the sacrifice of the millions of Jews murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.

Your statement and doubling down is unacceptable and discouraging all the more because it was made by a spokesperson in a potentially divisive community issue. More than ever, at a time when it is easy for fear and hate to take the place of compassion and kindness, and with antisemitism on the rise all over the world, please take this moment to choose to speak with understanding, and respect.

John: You changed your mind on widening Higgins because the widening project would have been so much more expensive than what you are now proposing. The only surprising thing is that your well-paid engineer's ever proposed widening in the first place (where clearly it is almost physically impossible -- any student at the school could have told you that just by looking out of the school window!).

You repeatedly claim that some of the renderings of the future developments created by concerned citizens are incorrect. Have you published your own 3D rendering of how your development will look from every point in Linda Mar? And how it sits on the footprint of the current trails? Creating realistic 3D renderings is almost trivial in modern software. And since your plans are very much set, it should be very easy for your consultants to create these for you.
So instead of just claiming that other folks' reconstructions are incorrect, why not publish your own? And I don't mean the 2D stuff filed with the city. I mean full 3D fly-throughs so folks can see what your project will really look like. If it is so much better/small footprint etc. than the "opposition" is claiming, why don't you ever back up those claims with fact-based evidence? That behavior breeds mistrust in you?

Also, please publish statistics on the percentage of trees to be removed. Sure, not "all" trees will be removed, but is it 99% or 1% -- big difference. Lawyers deceive and mislead by stretching the language in any way that serves you, so I prefer numbers. Give us numbers and percentages on tree cutting, grading, percent of land covered, etc. And don't point to the plans already filed. Write it here in plain numbers. If you do not reply with numbers, and only reply with lawyer-speak, then the community here will again conclude you are being deceptive and self-serving.

Hear the bobcat cryin’, ain’t no room for the
Mountain lion…linda mar woods, it just ain’t no good!!!

Previously Impartial:

I did not compare the Protect San Pedro Mountain group to Nazis. Read what I wrote again. I said they are using Joseph Goebbels' propaganda techniques. He was an evil genius who used radio to manipulate the masses in Germany with false information. This group is using the internet -- a webpage, Instagram, and Facebook -- to do the same thing to the people in Linda Mar. I am not going to sit silently and let them do this without exposing their message to the sunlight of the truth. I suppose being "professional" in your view means allowing the lies to go unanswered.

Perhaps I should have used Donald Trump's "Big Steal" as the basis of comparison. He uses Joseph Goebbels' propaganda techniques, too.

Peter George:

You packed a lot of material in your email and I will do my best to respond.

First, the people I criticize as using Nazi propaganda techniques are those posting on the Save San Pedro Mountain website and Instagram account. They are intentionally posting false information. I know this because I have informed them of their errors and they have refused to correct the false information. They also recently posted an OpEd in the Pacifica Tribune repeating the same false information. The postings have said we are going to shut down the trails, cut down all the trees, destroy sensitive habitats, pave over the hillside, and build tract houses for rich people. All of this is false.

What I am interested in hearing is fact-based criticisms of our plan. Actually one neighbor did provide fact-based criticism on our plan to widen Higgins Way, which I thought a lot about. This was the impetus for taking a different approach.

I am also interested in ideas to make the plan better. So far I have received none. I am hopeful, though, because I have created a study group with mountain bikers who are going to tell me how to expand the trails on the property for their use. We are also studying a new way to put control of preserving the hillside trails for recreational purposes in the hands of a not-for-profit corporation organized and controlled by the mountain bikers.

I have also reached out to the hikers, bikers, and business community with an idea of branding Old San Pedro Mountain Road Trail from Rockaway Beach to Montara Beach. This is a roads-to-trails idea.

So there are some positive things happening. Unfortunately, I have to swat at the misinformation campaign too often for the good ideas to be heard.

You are right that I said I am going to follow the law and get this project approved one way or another. The general plan and zoning law allows it to be developed, as does state law, and I am going to do so. Those interested can engage with me and help me make this project one that they would want to live in or they can put up roadblocks and try to stop progress. I personally think positive engagement is better than what our opponents are doing. I am proposing an affordable housing project that is outdoor recreation- oriented that is focused on conserving the natural environment. If that does not resonate with the NIMBY crowd, then I will pursue a different concept.

I have made it very clear that my intention is to develop an outdoor recreation-oriented community with affordable. homes. I am going to conserve the natural beauty of the Linda Mar hills forest, not pave over it. I am going to renovate and expand the trail network. My interests are 100% aligned with the people who say they want to protect the natural environment. Where we differ is that I think the natural environment can be shared with homeowners and they do not.

Actually, I have changed my opinion on several important topics. Most notably, I have changed my mind about widening Higgins Way. I think the better way to go is to leave Higgins Way as is, build a parking lot for the mountain bikers near the gate on our property, move the Montessori School drop-off to the side of their building instead of in the street, and create no-parking zones on both sides of Higgins Way from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to open it up and make it safer. This will keep the street clear of parked vehicles so people can drive without navigating an obstacle course, and delivery and emergency vehicles can use the road safely.

Despite spending $23.7M of taxpayer funds on the Equalization Basin project, sewers overflowed again at two different intersections in Linda Mar yesterday.

Pacifica needs more sewage processing capacity before it adds significant new dense housing projects.

Pacifica's wastewater department claimed 100-year flood events twice in 2014, once in 2015, and once in 2017. No doubt yesterday will be the fifth "100-year flood" in the past seven years.

Pacifica needs to get the vendors, consultants, and contractors who built the Equalization Basin back in one room and figure out what went wrong and again put toilet paper in the streets of Linda Mar.

John: You claim you want a conversation with the community (yes -- the ones you likened to Nazis, but I presume are still willing to engage with?). But what exactly is the conversation to be about? Your overriding goal is very clearly to maximize profits for you and Hengli 15. And that seems to be your *only* objective. Have you done or said one single thing that is not directed toward maximizing your profits? And yes, the greenwashing (website, vision, the sign, etc.) are very clearly a hugely cynical and transparent way of maximizing your profits, too -- precisely zero people were fooled by that whole pantomime as far as I can tell.

You repeatedly claim you and Hengli 15 have the legal authority to carry out your plans no matter what anyone says anyway. So I ask again -- what exactly do you want a conversation about; what are you interested in hearing? What could anyone say that would change your thinking on a single thing? Because as other folks have pointed out -- the only point of view you seem to be interesting in hearing is yours. And I say that purely based on what you yourself have written here in the past few months. You have not shifted your position on a single topic since this whole exchange started. I started engaging here thinking we were having a conversation about the possibilities for developing that Hengli 15 land. But at every turn, all you do is push your profit-maximizing agenda and to dismiss everyone else's opinion. It really is a most remarkable example of community outreach. Your plans are mostly filed -- and you clearly state your intention to defend those plans with every legal tool in your arsenal. So -- despite the fact that you have singlehandedly erased almost any trust this community originally had in you -- what is left to talk about?

John Kontrabecki:
I am not affiliated with the Protect San Pedro Mountain group, but I do believe that comparing them to Nazis makes you look bad. You certainly seem to have a way of twisting your true objective. It is clear what you are here for despite your attempts to mask your true intentions and twist the conversations to your liking. Based on the comments here, and without any sarcasm, you seem unprofessional and deceptive. I do not trust you.

Carl May:

I give up. All I am getting from you is blah, blah, blah, blah, and more blah. Not a new idea or constructive comment. Nothing clever or original.

Rocky Raccoon:

Kind of country and bluesy at the same time. Maybe a bit like Neil Young on "Helpless": "There is a town in North Ontario. With dream, comfort, memory to spare. And in my mind, I still need a place to go. All my memories are there..."

It is a song about wishing for a time long past. Substitute Linda Mar for North Ontario and it works. Great song about nostalgia.

Do you feel "helpless"?

"Linda Mar Woods" song by the Curios (Lee Parvin and Nancy Hall)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ci_-kTvDTbs

So now the subject is "change" and societal approaches to the future? The discussion to be led by a conveniently self-appointed social engineer, uber-visionary, and seeker of fortune, Master John. The crock overfloweth. This is, as it has been from the start, about gaining permits for a badly located, large subdivision steeped in negatives for its immediate neighborhood (could the assumed hegemony over the residents and school on Higgins Way be any more arrogant?), the Linda Mar area, the entire city of overpopulated Pacifica, and parts beyond where Pacificans must draw resources, ecological subsidies, and economic inputs that the city cannot provide its residents and businesses locally in its overgrown and partially mismanaged state. As they have shown in a number of elections that were not swamped by outside money, Pacificans are capable of thinking for themselves and making advances for the betterment of the city. They don't need the superficial, uneducated advice that emanates from the real estate development industry and its apologists trying to peddle the failed growth ethic.

Ian Butler:

I know the song and the lyric, but how does it relate to the subject of change and how we respond to it as a society? This is the topic we have been discussing recently here.

Previously Impartial:

Sorry. I have a very low tolerance for people who spread misinformation. There is a lot of it being spread by the Protect San Pedro Mountain group.

My choices are to say nothing and let the virus of lies spread or call them out and speak the truth to them. If I say nothing, people will believe what they are saying is true. This is the Joseph Goebbels Nazi propaganda approach to public relations. He said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." I cannot let this happen. The only antidote is to rebut the big lie by telling the truth.

This group recently posted an OpEd in the Pacifica Tribune that was loaded with false statements. I wrote a rebuttal calling out every one of them. People were surprised and shocked to see how they falsely represented the project I am proposing. Eventually, the truth will win out, people will stop listening to them, and they will be embarrassed by their loss of credibility.

Peter George:

In response to your question about widening Higgins Way, I am still working on it. We have a preliminary plan upon which I am not settled. I am trying to come up with a way to widen the street without having to completely rebuild it. The basic problem is the street as constructed is too narrow, and if cars are parked in the street, it becomes essentially too narrow for cars to pass. You see this every day during drop-off and pickup at the Montessori School and on the weekends with the bike riders.

One idea I am looking at is to leave the street as it is, and construct recessed "parking slots" along parts of the street. These are indentations the width of a car where cars can park without clogging the whole street. The areas without parking slots would be designated "no parking." By eliminating cars protruding into the street, the street becomes passable.

Another idea I am examining is the creation of a residential parking lot behind the Montessori School on land we own. I am trying to determine how much flat land I have to work with to see if this is feasible and how many parking spaces I can create. I will have a surveyor out there shortly to stake the property line. This idea plus the parking slots idea together may resolve the question of Higgins Way's width problem and the need for more residential parking.

Carl May:

The point of the verse I quoted from George Harrison is as he stated in the title to the song: "All things must pass." Life is forever changing and while you may wish for a time in the distant past when Pacifica was a rural community with few people, those times are long gone. It is better to embrace the fact that life is changing and try to participate in a process of constructive change. You cannot turn back the clock.

We are actually living in an exciting time that has accelerated the recognition of the need for change. Covid has brought forward ideas and technologies that can help manage competing needs for more housing and less travel congestion. It has also raised our awareness of the need for pleasant outdoor recreational experiences.

John Kontrabecki:
Do you realize that others are following these comments besides the few posting here? Your lack of professionalism is astounding.

Kumbaya

A member of the Beatles is now quoted in pursuit of acceptance of shallow philosophy and, of course, development permits. It's all about life, love, walking on the sunny side of the street, and having one's way at the expense of others.

John: If we're having a conversation through Mr. Harrison's lyrics, may I offer up this nugget:

Piggies
Have you seen the little piggies
Crawling in the dirt?
And for all the little piggies
Life is getting worse,
Always having dirt to play around in
Have you seen the bigger piggies
In their starched white shirts?
You will find the bigger piggies
Stirring up the dirt,
Always have clean shirts to play around in
In their styes with all their backing
They don't care what goes on around
In their eyes there's something lacking
What they need's a damn good whacking
Everywhere there's lots of piggies
Living piggy lives
You can see them out for dinner
With their piggy wives
Clutching forks and knives to eat the bacon

John: Do you have the new plans yet on your engineer's ideas on how to widen Higgins in front of the Montessori school?

Carl May: We live in a changing world and nothing stays the same. You can lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Sunrise doesn't last all morning
A cloudburst doesn't last all-day
Seems my love is up
And has left you with no warning
But it's not always going
To be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away
Sunset doesn't last all evening
A mind can blow those clouds away
After all this, my love is up
And must be leaving
But it's not always going
To be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away
All things must pass
None of life's strings can last
So I must be on my way
And face another day
Now the darkness only stays at night time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good
At arriving at the right time
But it's not always going
To be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away

(George Harrison)

The benevolent, more-learned-than-thou developer moves on from half-cocked, selective interpretations about the governing of his money-maker-to-be to an assumption of the mantle of social philosopher, seer, and friendly guru. Lacking experience with Pacifica and its environs, he blesses the place with self-serving lessons from his world travels, lifestyle, and personal philosophy. There is so much the more than 40,000 empty shells of human beings attempting life in Pacifica have to learn from him--especially when it comes to PRing one's way into desired permits.

Julie:

Thank you for the link to the article. It captures my own understanding of the history of suburban development, and my observations and thoughts to a large degree. But Linda Mar Woods is the wrong location for a shopping district. Perhaps at the corner of Adobe Drive and Linda Mar Boulevard. I have traveled extensively in Europe and the kind of model described in the article is very common.

I never said there would be no children in the development and everyone would be working at home. What I did say was I expect the people buying the homes to be moving from within Pacifica, not from outside the City, and most would not have young children. I do not want an adults-only community. I am not creating a retirement village. It is an economically integrated community with people of a variety of age and income groups. We have too much segregation in our culture and it hurts society. Whether it be race, religion, income, age, sexual preference, etc. I am against segregation and for economic integration. I am also reading the handwriting on the wall regarding hybrid work. It is here to stay and Covid has tested the concept on an accelerated basis. Employees like it because it keeps them off the freeway and with their families. That extra bedroom or ADU is now a home office. This is where we are, not where we will be.

I also accept the fact that there will be car trips created by this development, but with proper infrastructure, this will be manageable. Widening Higgins Way and extending it to Peralta Road will manage the traffic.

People will see that they can improve the quality of life and lower the cost of living by changing their own behavior. I say this because I have seen how my own family has adapted to Covid by staying at home, shopping online, streaming movies, and not going to the mall. This was initially driven by fear of infection from Covid. Then we learned it was really easy to do, lowered stress, created more family time, and saved money. If you have not tried this, you should.

John, perhaps you missed Peter George's post.

https://rsocialconscience.com/2018/03/08/jobs-housing-and-carless-urban-villages/

To back up your projections about traffic impact, make the development adults only, no cars. Put in a Zipcar dealership for those necessary trips. After all, you INSIST there will be no children and everyone will be working from home. They can also order their groceries and household goods online, not causing traffic congestion. No need for garages unless for the storage. Right? Just hikes and stuff.

Peter George:

Once again, you ask a good question: What are you, the developer, actively doing to make this development less car-dependent?

Another way of saying this is: What are you, the developer, actively doing to encourage residents to reduce the number of vehicle trips per day?"

Vehicle trips are generated mostly by commuting to school or work, shopping, and recreation or entertainment.

There is no one answer to this question, but a combination of answers. The answers have one thing in common-- breaking the car-centric lifestyle. A developer can do some things, but the real answer involves changes in consumer behavior.

You know that I believe the pandemic has demonstrated the viability of hybrid work where office employees work two days a week from home. I also think hybrid education is viable with children studying via video link a few days per week. What is needed is reliable high-speed internet and we intend to install fiber optic cabling throughout the Linda Mar Woods development. Not everyone, however, can work from home.

Commuting: There is public transportation on Linda Mar Boulevard. The problem is the mile distance between Linda Mar Woods and Linda Mar Boulevard. There are three solutions I may suggest: Uber, electric bicycle-sharing, and a shuttle service. The first two are already potentially available. Electric bicycle-sharing will have to be expanded into the area. A shuttle service can be organized by the Linda Mar Woods homeowners association privately if there is demand for it.

Shopping: The best way is to have the goods you need brought to you. Instacart and Safeway provide this service for groceries. Amazon and many other retailers provide this service for almost all other goods. USPS, UPS, and Fed Ex are the delivery services that actually make the deliveries for all other goods. We are going to construct a proper street that makes it easy for delivery vehicles to pass through the neighborhood on Higgins Way beginning at the corner of Adobe Drive. There presently is not a proper turnaround and the delivery vehicles have a hard time navigating this narrow street.

Recreation or entertainment: Linda Mar Woods is being developed for homeowners who are outdoor recreation enthusiasts. We are renovating and expanding the network of trails for hikers and bikers. No need to leave home when you live in the middle of the location where you recreate. Our high-speed internet connection will enable people to stream video entertainment into their homes. For prepared dining, Uber Eats and other services already provide delivery. For other kinds of recreation or entertainment, people will likely have to use their cars.

Car-sharing has been tried successfully in more urban environments. Same with local car rental like Enterprise Rent a Car. I have not seen car-sharing and rental companies come into suburban locations yet. It may be possible for the homeowners association to purchase several cars to create a private car-sharing service limited to people living within the neighborhood. This is more viable today because the cars can be electric vehicles that require little maintenance and can be parked and charged at the community center parking lot.

If you believe Elon Musk and other visionaries, within the decade many of us are going to sell our cars and rely on private car services with autonomous self-driving vehicles. I think this is still fantasy. More likely we will rely upon services like Uber and reduce the number of vehicles we own to save money. This is what people who live in urban environments are doing. Using Uber is cheaper and more convenient than owning a second or third car.

All of the ideas I have presented above involve technology and services that are already being used elsewhere. In fact, I personally use most of them and know that they work. I own an electric bike, use grocery and prepared food delivery, shop online, and rent an extra car when I need one. In the past three years, I have put 16,000 miles on my Tesla electric car. That is 96 miles per week or less than 20 miles per workday. This number is inflated because I have taken several long road trips during this time. I do not live a car-centric life anymore. It is a matter of personal choice. I would rather not spend my time in traffic. We will all have to learn to change our behavior if we wish to avoid the inconvenience of a car-centric life.

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