Sunday, August 1, 2010
Pacifica as a tourist destination
The following was originally meant to be a comment over on Riptide regarding the Transit Occupancy Tax, but it figured I ought to post it here, too.
I believe I've mentioned this before, but I frequent the TripAdvisor website and answer questions for people who plan to visit SF.
People rarely ask about Pacifica. When they do, the other local regulars on the website often discourage people from staying here because of it's cold and foggy reputation, they can't think of anything to do here, and without a car, it's not that easy to get into SF.
While staying at a hotel on the beach is nice, it's not enough. Tourists want to be able to shop and eat at a variety of places within walking distance of their hotel, and Pacifica doesn't offer that.
They've also been told not to use a car in SF, so if they want to stay in Pacifica, they need to be able to take convenient public transportation into SF. Pacifica doesn't have that, either.
If visitors say they plan to stay at a Pacifica hotel because it's cheaper than a San Francisco hotel, they will be told that the necessity and cost of renting a car, and money spent on parking in SF or taking BART into town, will eat up the savings they'd get on the lower room rate. So they might as well stay in SF.
If someone asks about surfing lessons, and I list the surfing school in Pacifica, inevitably others will recommend that visitors go to Santa Cruz, or if the tourists are going to Southern California, to wait until they get down there. Over the last 2.5 years, I think about 5 people have asked about surfing lessons near SF, and as far as I know, all of them decided to take their lessons somewhere other than Pacifica.
If someone from Kansas says they want to visit the beach to walk some trails or visit charming beach towns, they're advised to go to Marin or Half Moon Bay, not Pacifica.
I try to pimp Pacifica all I can, but it's very frustrating both to see what a low regard others in the Bay Area have for Pacifica as a destination for tourists, and the false impression some Pacificans have that Pacifica is an appealing place for tourists. It's not.
I do give Mary Ann and Steve Rhodes lots of credit for trying to do something about Pacifica's miserable economy, but I expect that the other four on council will ultimately undercut their efforts. So as I said over on Fix Pacifica, I won't vote for the TOT, or the other two proposed taxes, until Vreeland, Lancelle, Digre, and DeJarnatt are off Council, or I see tangible evidence that the city is becoming more business friendly. That means more than committees and promises, because I hear the same thing before every council election, and then nothing ever gets accomplished. I want to see Pacifica start doing things FOR its businesses, rather than only doing things TO its businesses.
Voting for these kinds of taxes simply allows council (Mary Ann excepted) a reason to continue to do nothing.
Posted by Steve Sinai