Monday, June 25, 2012

Highway 1 improvement process moves forward

In regards to the Highway 1 matter in Council tonight, it went relatively well.

The vote was 4-1 in favor of pursuing funding for the Highway improvements, with only Sue voting no. I especially liked the way Pete opened up regarding his frustrations with the people who used to complain about how bad the highway traffic was, yet now were saying, "do nothing." 

Caltrans had also indicated that the city needed to specify which of three following options was preferred: 1) concrete median; 2) landscaped median; 3) discontinue the project. The favored option was the landscaped median, although Council wanted to make it clear that it was simply the preferred alternative for now, and that it wasn't a final decision. The wording of the motion was -

"Give direction to staff to participate in the project development team, but reserve the final discussion until after the Final Environmental Impact Review is issued."

The motion passed with 3 yes votes (Mary Ann, Len, Ginny), 1 no vote (Pete, who didn't want to specify a preference), and one abstention (Sue).

Posted by Steve Sinai


Jim Wagner said...

I want to thank all of the speakers last nite that pointed out that the rational choice was to go forward with this project. I want to especially thank the five members of the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the CEO for advocating for the business community and testifying for the need to improve the highway. Mary Brown, Chris Porter, Courtney Conlon, and myself all spoke on behalf of the Chamber and our city. Thank to Directors Marty Cerles and Dr Hsu for your attendance. Everyone there talking about the opportunity to move forward presented sound, straight forward arguments. Thanks also to Gil, Theresa, Steve, and Mark. Your testimony was instrumental in convincing council to move forward with this project. It's amazing what a group of people, presenting well thought out remarks, can do.

Hutch said...

Great job Jim and everyone.

todd bray said...

Steve, for what it is worth Caltrans did not indicate it needed the city to choose an alternative, that request was purely from Rhodes and Ocampo. I'm copying an email from Mohammad Suleiman, the Caltrans project manager for this project below:

""Dear Mr. Bray,

As per your e-mail request "Of course if CalTrans staff has made no such
request of Pacifica City Council I will appreciate a communication
confirming no such CalTrans request."

There have been no such request to the Pacifica City Council.

The referenced letter was written to San Mateo County Transportation
Authority (SMCTA) and requests nothing from the City.

Mohammad Suleiman, PE, PMP
Project Manager
Department of Transportation- District 4
Division of Project Management - South""

Steve Sinai said...

Toddster, it sounded like there was confusion on this issue in the meeting, and some on the city staff disagreed with you.

From what I could tell, the city wasn't absolutely required to disclose its preferred alternative, but if the city hadn't done that, the SMCTA and/or Caltrans would have chosen for us. The preferred alternative was required as part of the application for federal funding.

I guess we can all watch the archived version of the meeting after Thursday, and try to understand what was going on.

Chris Porter said...

I did read a letter on the back table last night from Mohammad to Joe Hurley of the SMCO TA saying if the CIty did not make a decision regarding the median, CALTRANS would.

todd bray said...


to be honest I'm not too worried because the only thing that happened last night was that council showed bias. If and when this project ever goes for the two Coastal Development Permit's it will need, one from the city and one from the Coastal Commission, Mary Ann and Len will need to recuse themselves because they've made a determination about the project; they've voted on a preferred alternative so it would be impossible for them to be impartial during a Local Coastal Program Coastal Development Permit process.

I wonder if it was staff's intent all along: to disqualify Len and Mary Ann and potentially the full council from Coastal Development Permit process?

Anonymous said...

Classic Caltrans. They couldn't care less about this ridiculous town. Their scope is regional and all about the future coast. Thank God.

Steve Sinai said...

That makes no sense, Todd. Why would they want to disqualify themselves from the permit process?

Anonymous said...

Todd, that would be screamingly funny. Does Caltrans even need or want them on board? Seriously, how much say does Pacifica have about this project? We're a funky little pothole in their regional and longterm plans.

todd bray said...


Recusals are usual not voluntary. For example if a public official lives within a certain distance of a project or in this case where the public official(s), namely Mary Ann, Len, Ginny and Pete, have openly made a determination about the project ahead of time. All four in this case have voted their bias, intentional or not.

Say for some ungodly reason I was on council. I would, by law, have to recuse myself from this project because I live too close to it. The same rule would apply to any proposals for the quarry. I would, by law, need to recuse myself because I live too close to the quarry.

As I said above if and when this project goes for the two required CDP's Mary Ann and Len would, (assuming they are still on council by then) need to recuse themselves because they have voted in favor of an alternative which right or wrong gives the appearance of bias and the general public could not expect an impartial vote from either of them.

Likewise for Pete because even though his vote was NO, it was a vote and shows bias. The only council member that behaved correctly last night was Sue because she abstained.

Since it was made clear by Caltrans that the city need not take this step, and that staff initiated it, it makes me wonder if it was staffs intent to disqualify council from a CDP vote. I have no idea why but it's just a thought anyway.

Hutch said...

Todd, you and Pete Loeb were wrong last night and you're wrong now. Len and Mary Ann would not have to recuse themselves simply for voting for a preferred option. That was their duty. It's not the same as living within a certain distance of the project. Sorry.

Why are some people always looking for arguing points to stop Pacifica's progress at any cost?

Last night was a prime example of the weak arguments on the side of the no progress hippies here. What kind of satisfaction do these people get from holding this City back? I don't get it. Do you guys stay up at night trying to find some obscure fine print that you can use to destroy every project except hiking trails or organic gardens?

Well, no matter. Dejarnett is history. Digre who barely knows where she is, is their only friend left on the council and she got easily brushed aside last night.

The Watcher said...

Todd is so wrong on all fronts that to even respond to him reduces you to his level of.......what, nonsense. According to his analysis, everyone in Pacifica would have to recuse themselves because the argument could be made that making the corridor safer and traffic flow better, would benefit everyone in Pacifica financially. Come on, why argue with zealots that put you in a loop? How convenient to leave out Federal funding issues that actually drove the issue. Toddy knows this, but he's "too sexy for the truth, too sexy".

Anonymous said...

See you in court.

Anonymous said...

Anyone see Todd Bray taking a bus anywhere? Maybe ride a bike? Bray himself is not a big alternative transportation guy, although he wants everyone else to hoof it.

Todd Bray paints signs, he is not a lawyer. Ignore his legal pronouncements about anything, recusals included.

Let's get this project underway so thousands of drivers from Linda Mar and Pedro Pt don't get hung up in traffic.
The undisputed fact: the gang of NO lost Monday nite at council.
And that's a good thing

Anonymous said...

Todd raises an interesting point
about bias and, specifically, the loss of impartiality. Blunder, calculated, or no big deal? This type of issue has come up before on other issues before council. Surely the city attorney was consulted. Right? Wrong?

Steve Sinai said...

The city attorney, or at least the guy currently acting in the role, was sitting right there when the vote on the preferred alternative motion was taken.

Anonymous said...

Oh, the guy acting in the role huh? Sinai, that's no attorney, he just plays one in Pacifica. Did this council really step up or did they really step in it? IDK, but they definitely voted which shows bias and would seem to make their impartiality open to challenge further on in the permit process. It's been known to happen. Impartiality is an important concept in public policy. But that's years away. This council will likely term/burn out by then. Why worry about the distant uncertain future when we are staring at insolvency and more cuts now?

Kathy Meeh said...

..."they definitely voted which shows bias and would seem to make their impartiality open to challenge further on in the permit process." Anonymous 1:49 am

How can this be anything but a ridiculous argument? City council is part of the agency "team" which includes 1) CalTrans, 2) San Mateo County Transportation Authority, 3) the City of Pacifica. Median design? As Chris Porter cites from the CalTrans project manager letter to SMCTA "if the city does not make a decision regarding the median, CALTRANS would." (6/26, 4:17pm).

City council voted 1) to move the project forward for potential Federal funding, 2) participated in the "team" choice of median design rather than default to SMCTA and CalTrans. The city also left open the median choice pending final results of the EIR). City council was doing their job, the argument to the contrary is specious.

Beyond that, the views that Todd Bray has presented seem to fit into the eco-NIMBY category of "pulling your chain".

Anonymous said...

here's a better pin-head argument to get your head around regarding recusals and bias.

Let's assume bray is right and not blowing smoke or spinning fake facts to fit his view of the world. After Monday's council, who is impartial? On the question of picking a project, the landscape version had a 3 yes, one no and one abstain vote.

Four council members made a decision and therefore are biased? The only one to not make a decision is Digre, so she remains impartial?

So in bray's parallel universe going forward only Digre can vote in rt. 1 issues?
But if Digre is the only voter, no quorum is present. Nothing happens ever?

hahahahahah. Mr. bray should conjure up his finest legal oratory and send a letter to the city asking for an explanation. They all need a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

The letter from Caltrans to SMCTA did NOT say "if the city does not make a decision regarding the median, CALTRANS would." All the letter says is "a preferred alternative will be identified at the next Project Development Team Meeting." City staff were the ones who said that if the City Council did not select a preferred alternative, then Caltrans would. That was never said by Caltrans.

todd bray said...

Steve, Kathy, Spanky et al,

I'm sorry your victory lap has turned into a walk of shame, but regardless of motion language minutia council voted to favor of an alternative and to add to their open bias they did it for stated reasons such as public safety to name one.

Since the city never agendized the DEIR during the public comment period, and Caltrans specifically stated no action is being asked of council the vote that Steve Rhodes and Van Ocampo sought from council has either back fired on them or has had the results they wanted which is to wipe out any remaining chance those 4 council members could ever claim any impartiality on this issue again, especial come Coastal Development Permit time.

Steve Sinai said...

As someone already pointed out Todd, you're not an attorney. Even if you were, there would be plenty of other attorneys that disagree with you. That's why there are courts and judges.

Your argument makes no sense, and I get the feeling even you know that. As a highway widening supporter, it's actually heartening to see that the "Gang of No" can't come up with anything better than unworkable, already discarded alternatives to the widening; appeals to irrelevant issues like global warming or sea-level rise; or crazy conspiracy theories.

You are correct in that nobody should be doing any victory laps yet. There are still lots of hurdles before any digging starts.

Anonymous said...

come on bray, man up. Write a complaint to the city and see what they say.
You yanking at everyone about how smart and correct you are is a one trick pony show.

Anonymous said...

Yes there are many hurdles still ahead. One of them is Coastal Commission approval. Then there's the Federal Highway Administration. I'd wager that this project will never happen, not because of anything at the local level but because of much higher level agencies and regulations.

todd bray said...

The DEIR points out that Caltrans has been given the proxy for the FHWA's (Federal Highway Adminstration) oversight. Any FHWA review or approvals will be conducted and approved by Caltrans staff. For this reason the DEIR is attempting to be CEQA compliant and NEPA compliant.

Mr. Rhodes justification for the council vote Monday night because of FHWA funding and NEPA compliance was misguided at best. Again it raises the issue of his intent bringing this item to council.

All these things, juristriction, permits and funding would have been clearly identified to council if council had held a public hearing on the DEIR during public comment. For that matter all these things would have been explained had council held a hearing after the public comment period had closed.

Anonymous said...

Oh poppycock.

So amusing to see them grasp at straw. A swing and a miss Todd.

After reviewing all comments, I think said...

Why is it the same group wants more and more public hearings when they do not get their way? Everything in this town does not have to be talked to death. I remember when someone from Vallemar did not want the dying fire fueling trees to be cut by PGE because she likes to watch the squirrels run up and down. All of you, please go watch the squirrels and let the big people run the town.

Anonymous said...

Nobody wants "more and more public hearings." But some people want a public hearing. Council refused to hold a public hearing on the DEIR. Then they made a decision on which of Caltrans' 2 alternatives they preferred without a public hearing. That's anti-democratic.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Everything does not have to go before the people for input. This is why we elect Council, to make decisions on our behalf.

All this crap is just another stalling tactic from the half baked, climate changing, sea level rising, granola eating, NIMBY, anti-building old dirty hippies in this town.

concern citizen said...

Unfortunately, this town has been run by people that they rather live the the way things are done. Don't destroy nature. Protesting is a away of stopping and controlling progress. They take advantage that their council friends have been doing their a favor of listening.

We are climbing up to progress but very slowly. It is not easy to change people mentally> Specially when they have done it for years.

Anonymous said...

This project will be mired in process and legal challenges for a decade or more. Staff and council have added to the mess with their public opinions and vote absent an impartial public hearing, but they didn't invent the mess. IMO the high-fives are premature and silly. Rally the troops with something else.

Anonymous said...

anon 254 you've got some scary attitudes and I'm not talking about the childish name-calling.

Anonymous said...

I say it's time to paint the frogs. How about it Todd? Frog Rodeo in the quarry? Riders on motorcycles with those cute little side-cars and the passenger armed with a paint sprayer? They could wear those pointy WWI German helmuts. Do we have enough frogs? Burning Man, Painted Frog..TripAdvisor here we come.

todd bray said...

Anon @ 6:02 PM,

As stated above I must, by law, recuse myself from any proposals in the quarry.

Anonymous said...

Todd, the law is meant to be a light, not a shield. But WTF I'll paint a frog for ya!

Hutch said...

Once again I'd like to thank everyone who spoke in favor of this important project. And also Mary Ann, Len and Ginny for ignoring the obstructionists whacky arguments.