Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Push launched to keep Silicon Valley above water

LISA LEFF, Associated Press 
Published 04:04 p.m., Thursday, April 12, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Business leaders and Sen. Dianne Feinstein launched a $1 billion, 10-year fundraising goal on Thursday that is aimed at preventing some of Silicon Valley's leading technology companies from going underwater — literally.

The money, the biggest share of which is expected to come from the federal government, is being sought to build a new earthquake- and storm-proof levee system along the southern part of San Francisco Bay, where the corporate campuses of Facebook, Google and other high-tech ventures abut land that was drained a century ago for commercial salt-making.

Planners predict those sites and thousands of South Bay homes are at risk of catastrophic flooding over the next half-century due to a climate change-fueled sea level rise. Currently, the bay's tidal waters are contained by low-lying levees constructed more than 100 years ago to create salt ponds, and they would be inadequate to the task of protecting prime real estate even if they were not deteriorating, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation President Steve McCormick said.

"There are dozens of corporate campuses in that flood zone," said McCormick, who is leading a committee of corporate and foundation heads, elected officials and environmental representatives who plan to promote and lobby for the project. "There is billions of dollars' worth of land that would be, for all intents and purposes, rendered unusable."

Most of the $1 billion in anticipated costs would go toward building new levees, but the preliminary budget also covers restoring about 36,000 acres of wetlands that were drawn off and filled in over the last 150 years, Save the Bay Executive Director Davis Lewis said. Returning the bay's shores to a wetland state would not only be a boon for wildlife, but provide a natural safeguard against future flooding, Lewis said.

"The need for wetland restoration is already on the radar screen and is under way in parts, but to get it all done is going to require a lot more money," he said. "The significance of what's happening today is these powerful constituents in business, the foundation world and government are saying one of the next big priorities is raising the money to make this happen."

At this stage, the coalition expects half of the money for the project to come from the federal government, a quarter from the state and the remaining quarter from local sources such as a property parcel tax, McCormick said. Corporations and foundations are being encouraged to foot the bill for preliminary planning, public education and lobbying, he said.

Feinstein, California's senior U.S. senator, endorsed the effort while she was in San Jose on Thursday to break ground on a public transportation project. The work would comprise the largest wetlands restoration plan in the nation outside the Florida Everglades, she said

Submitted by Jim Wagner 

Reminder - city council study session, Wednesday August 1, 2012

Attend in person, 2212 Beach Boulevard, 2nd floor.  Or, view on local channel 26, also live internet feed, pct26.com. This meeting is televised, confirmed by the August PCT26 calendar

Special City Council study session to review the  City of Pacifica Climate Action Plan DRAFT.

This meeting begins at 6 p.m. -  that's right 6 p.m. The meeting ends at 8 p.m. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Monday, July 30, 2012

Remember the highway 1 widening?

A slow day at The Daily Journal?   This somewhat newsworthy event happened last month.  Or is it that over the hill they understand the pace of Pacifica.  And the spin on this?  Only Councilmember Sue Digre and her NIMBY friends don't "get it".

What's the hurry reporting breaking news?
"The Daily Journal (San Mateo), Brendan Bartholomew, 7/30/12.  "Pacifica officials split over highway 1 plans"

Pacifica residents and officials are grappling with questions and controversy as they decide whether to alleviate traffic congestion by widening Highway 1 from Sharp Park through Rockaway Beach.

Pacifica has been considering such a project for more than 30 years, but was forced to take a tentative step forward in late June when the city’s staff received a letter from Caltrans informing the city it would need to choose a favored design before the project’s final environmental impact report could be completed.

Fixing highway 1?  Its only 30 years later
The City Council voted June 25 to go with a design that includes a landscaped median, which the council felt would be in keeping with its goal of beautifying Pacifica. It also voted to nominate the project for funding under the San Mateo County Transportation Authority’s call for Measure A projects. Neither vote was unanimous, with Councilwoman Sue Digre abstaining and Mayor Pete DeJarnatt voting against the landscaped median, and Digre being the sole dissenter in the decision to pursue funds.

Though the June vote may have created a sense of urgency among Pacificans who are stridently for or against the project, DeJarnatt said he does not see things moving quickly. In fact, he said it was a campaign issue for him when he ran for council 15 years ago.  “We’re asking for it to be funded, but that’s not the go-ahead. Then the EIR will be finalized and then it comes back to us again. I don’t see anything happening in the near term,” he said. “This process is unbelievably long.”  Read Article.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Our economy should be more than a weak myth

Pacifica Tribune/"My Turn" guest column, 7/27/12.  "Differences of opinion in Pacifica" by Paul Slavin

Grey houses fall into the Pacific Ocean too
"In his "My Turn" article last week, Sam Casillas issued an impassioned plea for the status quo, backed with some convoluted reasoning that he believed justified "Why our environment should be our economy." Mr. Casillas is a longtime environmental activist and a Pedro Point community organizer. In his guest column he presented what might be kindly called a revisionist history of Pacifica, one that may be compatible with his environmental theories but varies greatly from accepted historical fact. He stated, for instance, that Pacifica "was founded on the principle of a family-based community that lives in harmony with the beauty of the surrounding environment which encompasses emerald hills falling into the majestic Pacific Ocean." While that might be poetically impressive, it is factually nonsense. If there are some "founding principles" of Pacifica, I'd like to see them. 

Our economy could be our pet Zebra
Pacifica was, in fact, founded by all sorts of people. Some certainly loved the natural beauty of our unique coastside setting. Many others loved the opportunity to leave rented apartments in crowded, dirty cities and purchase their own, affordable homes in new, suburban neighborhoods. In Mr. Casillas's version of our history, this merely "contributed to the blight of strip malls and tract housing which dominate the American landscape to this day." Apparently not many of the new residents found a place on Pedro Point, and the poor slobs had to settle for the cookie-cutter homes in Linda Mar.

We should understand that Sam Casillas has a well-honed vision of what he wants to see happen around here, and that does not include new housing, or any new development for that matter. He defends his anti- housing position with the old and much-contested argument that single-family houses cost the local government more in services than they make in taxes. I've heard both sides of this debate before and still don't have a definitive answer (if there is one). You'd be amazed at the number of studies the question has generated, with different studies supporting every possible aspect of the debate, pro and con. In Mr. Casillas's article he quoted (rather disingenuously) a report prepared by the Trust for Public Lands, a conservation group dedicated to securing property so that it cannot be developed. Its conclusions were what you might expect.

But with the way that conditions, costs and taxes can vary from place to place, I doubt if any of these studies are of any value outside of their immediate locale. So, for the sake of argument, let's say that Mr. Casillas is correct: Pacifica homes cost more in services than they pay in taxes. OK. Now, I know this is a ridiculous over-simplification of an incredibly complex problem, but, just conceptually, how about we either, (A), reduce the cost of services per household or, (B), raise their taxes. My preference would be (A), but the point is we can't go on losing money. Nor should we stop building houses. I'll leave the details for staff to work out. 

Have you heard we have frogs?
One thing that I'm sure Sam Casillas and I, along with everyone else in town, would agree on is that Pacifica needs additional, dependable income. But Mr. Casillas insists there is only one way to get it: "transform our economy into a visitor-based economy that capitalizes on... our open space." In other words, "Our environment is our economy." He continues, "The tourists that come to hike in the Pedro Point Headlands and take in the views from Devil's Slide will be the ones who add to the revenue base". Is it necessary to point out that we've been waiting for those deep-pocketed eco-tourists for years? Years! And that this policy of encouraging environmental tourism at the expense of development and business is largely responsible for the hole we're in today. Mr. Casillas claims his policies will create a "vibrant economy based on our environmental assets," but admits we "must find a way to keep the tourists here." That's always been the problem: how to make any money off the hikers and bikers and surfers, and apparently Mr. Casillas doesn't have any more of an idea than anybody else. The environment is our economy" is a thoroughly discredited financial policy. It hasn't worked in the past and shows no signs of working in the future.

It's obvious our economy must be diversified, with the environment playing an important part, but one part among many. Business must be better represented. Development interests must be heard and fairly evaluated. We have to open up our thinking, our planning to new people with new ideas, not confine ourselves to the daydreams of some diehard extremists."

Reference -  Pacifica Tribune, 7/27/12, "My Turn" guest column, by Samuel Casillas. "Our environment should be our economy."  Reprint on Fix Pacifica as "Searching for our economy."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Proposed Delta water transport improvement to southern California

Win, win.  No pumping is good for fishes and the ecosystem.  The design is said to be more reliable in transporting piped water to inland agriculture, in both northern and southern California. However, the project is expensive, and many northern California Legislators and civic interests don't yet like the plan.

"California Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday endorsed a $14 billion plan to sharply increase water supplies to parched Southern California, in a move that would remake the water map in the semi-arid state.  
Delta Science Center:  the levee system

The plan, which Mr. Brown backed alongside U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, involves two massive tunnels to divert water from wet Northern California to the south. It was immediately assailed by a broad range of interest groups, which denounced it as too expensive and potentially detrimental to the environment and to the regional economies that would be affected.

....  Officials of the Brown administration said studies already conducted show that the delta's environment would be improved, adding that the plan would be subject to rigorous additional analysis as part of state and federal environmental reviews. Many water users south of the delta support the tunnel plan and said time is of the essence."  The Wall Street Journal, US/Jim Carlton, 7/25/12.  "California pushes water-tunnel plan."  Read Article.  Note:  the Wall Street Journal restricts usage, and if you have an access problem, just google it. 

"....  The $14 billion blueprint envisions both the physical and psychological re-engineering of California’s plumbing, including the construction of twin 35-mile-long pipelines, each about as wide as a three-lane highway, that would tap river water from a more northerly, less polluted location. The pipelines would deliver the water straight to the conveyances in the south, largely replacing a system that pumps water from the murkier southern part of the 500,000-acre delta, disturbing the fragile ecosystem.  It also includes financial incentives for consumers of water — municipalities and farming interests — to use less. 

....  The secretary and Mr. Brown emphasized that the new system would be a hedge against natural disasters like flooding, earthquakes or sea level rise that could collapse crucial levees and disrupt water supplies. Mr. Salazar said the water system was “at constant risk of failure.” Mr. Brown added: “We know there are a couple of big issues, earthquakes and climate change. And this facility is absolutely essential to deal with both of them.”

....  The failure to solve this dilemma has been the catalyst for some willingness to compromise, since most of the stakeholders agree that the current situation is untenable. Decisions in recent years by the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and the courts to ensure there is enough water for fish have led to water delivery cutbacks in drought years." The New York Times, US/Felicity Barringer and Jennifer Medina, 7/25/12.  "California envisions fix to water distribution."  Read Article.  

New York Times article notes.  1) The $14 billion blueprint article link is the US Department of Interior Press release about the Bay Delta conservation plan.  2) Representative Jackie Speier stated she thought moving forward on this project was a "rush to construction", without enough science. 

Related articles - Sacramento Business Journal, 7/25/12, the efficient story.  And  San Francisco Chronicle, 7/28/12, the shaggy story.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oakland - the cost of borrowing money to fund city pensions

Pension funding seems to be a common problem for many cities, including Pacifica.

San Francisco Chronicle/Matthai Kuruvila, 7/29/12.  "Oakland's financial time bomb:  pensions."

We sold you a bridge
"It was 1976 when the city of Oakland realized it had a major problem on its hands: A pension created 25 years earlier to benefit police officers, firefighters and their widows was proving too costly to afford. So the city closed the plan to new employees and later passed a parcel tax to pay for the pension. Yet today, that pension remains the source of one of Oakland's biggest headaches.

....  Last month, the majority of the Oakland City Council, at the urging of Mayor Jean Quan's administration, voted to borrow money once again to cover the pension bill - $210 million in new pension bonds that will cost another $105 million in interest over the next 14 years. But the loan will allow the city to avoid paying for the pension from its general fund for four years. If the city hadn't borrowed the money, it would have been forced to take $38.5 million from its roughly $400 million general fund to pay for the pension this year. Such a move would have required deep cuts to city services, which already have taken a hit due to the slumping economy, state budget cuts and redevelopment shutdown.   

Oakland downtown area
....  In four years, other city debts will retire, making it easier to make the annual payments, said Scott Johnson, a deputy city administrator. But Councilwoman Libby Schaaf, who voted against the bonds last month, criticized the idea of paying $105 million in interest to avoid a $38.5 million payment into the pension fund this year."  Read Article.

Related article and CalPERS rate of return graph 1990-2012  The Oakland Tribune/Editorial/Bay Area News group, 7/19/12 "Oakland Tribune editorial"  Pension system must stop using overly optimistic forecasts."  "...The announcement this week by the nation's largest pension system that its investment earnings for the past year were a dismal 1 percent should be interpreted with caution. The returns for just one year tell us little about the long-term health of the system." 

Submitted by Jim Alex

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Tunnel party paid by car parade, namely the last car

Oh well you're making history.  

Half Moon Bay Review/Sara Hayden, 7/26/12.  "Tunnel enthusiasts prepare to start their engines."

....  "The Tunnel Opening Day Celebration Vehicle Parade Committee, made up of a handful of volunteers under the auspices of Caltrans, is seeking at least 30 applicants with vintage, hot-rod or energy-efficient cars. The plan is to represent different decades over the last 100 years and commemorate the first tunnel built in California in a half-century. Fees range from $100 for an individual sponsorship to $3,000 to secure the last spot with a 2012 vehicle.

....  "Because it's a new thing that's happening … they thought it was a good way to promote both Pacifica and Half Moon Bay," said Mitch Reid, a resident of Pacifica and coordinator of the vehicle parade. "We want to give both the local cities an opportunity to be involved with it."
  Only $3000 to enter this car

Reid said that the fees will be used to cover the cost of odds and ends involved with the opening day celebration and after-party, including tents and portable toilets. Proceeds will be donated to the San Mateo County Parks Foundation for trail"   Read Article.

Picture reference - Top car example is a  1932 Ford, custom build by Boyd Coddington.  Bottom car example is a Nissan Leaf SE, city mpg 106, highway 92. Kiplinger most fuel efficient cars, 2012, slide show item 5.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Saturday, July 28, 2012

San Carlos transit village project moving forward

Palo Alto Daily News/Bonnie Eslintger, 7/27/12.  "San Carlos transit village plan draws flak from city's east-side residents."

Right current views, left proposed project *
"A proposed development of eight four-story buildings along El Camino Real is drawing fire from east-side San Carlos residents who say it will block their views, cast shadows on their homes and possibly create parking problems.

....  As proposed, the project would be built on the sliver of land south and north of the Caltrain Station between El Camino Real and Old County Road, from Arroyo Avenue to almost Northwood Drive. The 10.5-acre site is owned by the San Mateo County Transit District, which would lease some of the land to the developer, Foster City-based Legacy Partners Residential, LLC, according to a city memo.

The mixed-use development would include 280 "luxury" apartments, according to the developer, as well as 24,000 square feet of offices and 14,000 square feet of retail space. Parking for the apartment residents would be underground, and the 226 parking spaces in a lot near the station would be moved to the south end of the site, according to the memo.

...  The San Carlos Transit Village project aligns with the city's goals because it would encourage public transit and bring needed housing to the city, Nelson said. The project also includes an affordable housing component: either the developer would rent 15 percent of the units at below-market rates or pay the city an in-lieu fee of approximately $8.4 million, according to the memo.  After Monday's study session, the final draft of the environmental impact report is scheduled to return to the planning commission Oct. 1 for a vote." Read Article.

*  Picture description above.  Top:  El Camino real current view, left proposed rendering. Bottom:  Old County Road current view, left proposed rendering.  See related article Daily Journal (San Mateo), Michele Durand, 1/20/10, Transit village on way."
Reference City of San Carlos Transit Village. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Menlo Park downtown renovation moving forward

Palo Alto Daily News/Bonnie Eslinger, 7/28/12.  "Downtown Menlo Park drawing plenty of development interest since plan approved, officials say."

"Several developers interested in building homes, offices and retail businesses have approached Menlo Park since a 30-day deadline to mount legal challenges against its recently approved El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan has passed, according to city officials.

Although some critics had threatened to try to block the plan by putting a referendum measure on the ballot or challenging its environmental impact report in court, neither action happened, Cherise Brandell, the city's community services manager, told The Daily News.

The Menlo Park City Council unanimously adopted the polarizing plan on June 12; its action could have been legally challenged until July 13."  Read Article. 

Related -  Fix Pacifica reprint from Palo Alto Daily News, 4/14/12.   
Reference - City of Menlo Park "El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan,

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Stay away from mosquitoes this summer

Palo Alto Daily News/Bonnie Eslinger, 7/24/12.  "Dead squirrel found in Menlo Park infected with West Nile virus." 

I'm back
"The West Nile virus was detected in the body of a gray squirrel found in Menlo Park earlier this month, a vector control official announced Monday.  A hawk also tested positive for the virus in June, said Angie Nakano, a vector ecologist with San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control. Transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, the West Nile virus tends to flare up between the spring and fall, Nakano said, adding that "the virus and mosquitoes multiply faster when it's warmer."

....  Of the 3,146 people infected since 2004 by the West Nile virus in California, 110 have died from the disease, according to the California Department of Public Health's website. There have been six reports of human infections in 2012, but no fatalities 

....  Precautions should be taken to avoid mosquito bites, including eliminating sources of standing water, wearing repellent in areas with a lot of mosquitoes, and staying covered or inside during dawn and dusk, according to the agency. 

Residents frequently bitten by mosquitoes around their home or elsewhere should contact the {San Mateo Mosquito and Vector Control} district at 650-344-8592."  Read Article.

Reference - Mosquito Solutions,"Mosquito Facts", quick view..  Web MD, "Are you a mosquito magnet?"  Science, how stuff works, "How mosquitoes work."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

California park system found $54 million in two state accounts

....  "John Laird, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, which oversees the state parks department, revealed last week that the department had been sitting on $54 million in "hidden assets" for at least 12 years. Some of that money could have been used to avoid the park closures and steep service reductions that have played out over the past two years amid deep state budget cuts.

Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2012/07/26/2298590/man-central-to-california-parks.html#storylink=cpy

Park funds found behind this tree
State parks Director Ruth Coleman, the longest-serving director in the 150-year history of the parks department, resigned last week in the wake of the discovery. In her resignation letter, Coleman said she had been unaware of the surplus, but was resigning because she bore ultimate responsibility for the department. In comments to The Bee, Coleman blamed her deputy director of administrative services, Manuel Thomas Lopez, for failing to inform her about the surplus. 

....  Lopez also was central to another department scandal: A Bee investigation published earlier this month revealed that 56 employees at parks headquarters took part in an unauthorized vacation buyout program last year that cost the state more than $271,000. 

....  According to Laird, the surplus money was held in two funds at the parks department: $20 million in the Parks and Recreation Fund, which collects revenue produced at the parks; and $34 million in the Off Highway Vehicle Trust Fund, which collects money from license fees and fuel taxes on off-road vehicles."  The Modesto Bee/Matt Weiser, 7/26/12 "Man central to California parks department scandal says he told supervisors about surplus funds."   Read Article. 

"Saying they feel betrayed by the discovery of $54 million hidden in two state parks accounts, a growing number of groups that donated money to keep California state parks from closing this year now say they want a refund -- or at least a binding promise from lawmakers to spend the extra money on parks.

There has been no evidence that any of the money was embezzled or stolen, and Coleman says she did not know of it. Still, the discovery came at a politically difficult time for the governor. Brown announced last year that the state was so short of cash reporting it to the state Department of Finance that 70 state parks -- one-quarter of the entire system -- had to be closed by July 1 to save $22 million. Critics called the threat a political gimmick to convince middle-class voters to support Brown's tax increase measure on the upcoming November ballot.

When dozens of civic groups, local cities and businesses stepped forward with donations, the parks closures were averted. The state attorney general's office is now investigating.Silicon Valley Mercury News/Paul Rogers 7/26/12.  "Donors who bailed out state parks want their money back."   Read Article. 

Related article - "State parks scam", Los Angeles Times "California parks had $54 million hidden surplus, officials say", reprint on Fix Pacifica, 7/20/12 by Steve Sinai.

Reference - California Parks system. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

San Mateo County Supervisors discuss parks funding, July 31, 2012

The Daily Journal (San Mateo)/Staff Report, 7/27/12.  "Supervisors to discuss parks funding."

San Pedro Valley Park, Pacifica. 
"Issues with parks funding, and ways to improve it, will be part of a presentation before the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

....  The parks department operates on an $8.4 million annual budget, which includes $6 million from the general fund. Achieving the recommended level of staffing and operation, however, would require $11.1 million, Porter wrote. During the budget hearings earlier this year, the board added back $350,000 to the parks budget for staff, fire fuel load reduction efforts and health and safety related maintenance and repairs. The board also provided $1.9 million toward Devil’s Slide, $1.3 million for Alpine Road improvements, and $925,000 for the planning phases of the water and wastewater treatment plant renovations at Memorial Park, he wrote. The parks budget for capital projects is $7.5 million for the current fiscal year, including $4.475 million from the general fund. Over the next five years, about $12.1 million in capital project improvements have been identified, Porter wrote.

Photograph taken at Sanchez Adobe Historic Site
Ideas for this year include an in-depth fee review, expanded or renegotiated concession agreements, expanded use of the Sheriff’s Work Program, expanding the volunteer program and internships. Most of the ideas will take several years to evaluate and implement.  .... The Board of Supervisors meets 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 31 at 400 County Center, Redwood City."   Read Article.

County reference - County of San Mateo, Division of Parks, index spreadsheet guide direct.

Pacifica referenceParks Beaches and Recreation, spreadsheet guide direct.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Friday, July 27, 2012

Special city council Meeting, Wednesday August 1, 2012

Attend in person, 2212 Beach Boulevard, 2nd floor.  Or, view on local channel 26, also live internet feed, pct26.com. This meeting is televised, confirmed by the August PCT26 calendar

One climate solution:  managed retreat

Special City Council study session to review the  City of Pacifica Climate Action Plan DRAFT.

This meeting begins at 6 p.m., and ends at 8: 00 pm. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

City council is setting goals, economic and communication

Pacifica Tribune/Jane Northrop, 7/24/12.  "City Council sets goals - economic development and community relations the priorities."

"City Council met last Sunday (7/22) in a facilitated day-long study session -- first to check in with department heads to hear their concerns and goals for the next year and then to set its own goals. In the end, they overwhelmingly supported focusing their efforts into two main priorities -- promoting economic development and reaching out to improve community relations. 

Kind of late, hope you can to fix it
"Before, we had no stated direction. It was impossible to know if we were progressing. It was frustrating. It was also hard for staff. I'm glad this was a success. We came to the conclusion that economic development and community relations were our top priorities. It was extremely productive," Stone* said.  

....  The goals worksheet, being drafted right now, is considered a "working" document with opportunities for revision as necessary. The elements will be evaluated with their costs attached at a later City Council meeting. It will be completely reviewed again in one year."  Read Article, includes department goals.

Note:   * The Sunday, July 22 city council setting goals workshop occurred as a result of  Mayor Pro Tem Len Stone asking. Most city councils do set goals, as do most businesses and many individuals. Goal setting is a way of working toward understood, beneficial results and outcomes in the future.  

RelatedWhat is local economic development? 
  • The World Bank organization, Local Economic development (LED) "encompasses a range of disciplines including physical planning, economics and marketing.  It also incorporates many local government and private sector functions including environmental planning, business development, infrastructure provision, real estate development and finance."  
Posted by Kathy Meeh

The Eco-NIMBY experiment on our city has run its course

Pacifica Tribune, Letters to the Editor 7/25/12. "Environment and economy" by Gil Anda

"Editor.  Last week Sam Casillas wrote a compelling column stating the case for basing our economy on our environmental assets. It's good that we have this dialog because we need to take a good, hard and honest look at this. Although he makes a convincing, even visionary case, there are problems with his arguments.

Pacifica experiment done by hippie, not Einstein
The main argument is that over the past 20 to 30 years previous councils have made it their exclusive quest to make Pacifica an environmental destination. Pacifica has many miles of walking paths, a redesigned Linda Mar Beach, the inclusion of Sweeney Ridge, Mori Point and Montara Mountain into the GGNRA and even a skate park. And, to be honest, we do get our fair share of visitors. The problem is that it hasn't worked as many had hoped for and our city, fiscally, is in the worst shape it's ever been. I'm sure that some, maybe even most, visitors stop to shop or eat, but it isn't enough to create that big of an impact on our economy.

The biggest source of revenue for Pacifica continues to be property taxes. The biggest source of revenue for our local businesses is the people that already live here. Tourism does contribute to the city's commerce, but tourism is only one leg of the stool. Pacifica needs more than one leg of the stool to make a sustainable economy.

So the main problem isn't that we promote our visitor serving businesses, it's that we strangle all other development in an effort to create ever more open space. And when those other developments are strangled Pacifica's economy is throttled as well.

There went our economy
 Goodbye infrastructure, hello open space
Even more damaging to this city were the green schemes this city tried to enact such as the many attempts to make a civic center with the beach front library at the former WWTP site on Beach Boulevard 'recycling' the council chambers into a new city hall, installing a biodiesel plant at our 'state of the art' sewage treatment plant and there was even discussion of a proposal to create a biodiesel university at the quarry. Most of these projects took up time and money, money that this city is quickly running out of.

Sam Casillas' rousing speech could have been made decades ago, with the dawn of the Friends of Pacifica. The only difference between then and now is that this experiment has run its course and the gains, if any, are negligible. That's the reality. Now we have our history to look back on and we can either learn from it or doom ourselves to repeat it."

Reference Fix Pacifica reprint, Samuel Casillas Pacifica Tribune letter to the editor, 7/17/12, "Our environment should be our economy."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Thursday, July 26, 2012

San Mateo County 1/2 cent sales tax coming to Fall ballot

"The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to put a half-cent sales tax increase measure on the November ballot, with hopes of grabbing an extra $60 million a year.
All these new proposed taxes, good luck!

Board President Adrienne Tissier said the money is needed to maintain the public services and "great quality of life" that San Mateo County wants to continue providing despite cutbacks in state and federal funds.

....  On the same Nov. 6 ballot is a quarter-cent sales tax increase measure Gov. Jerry Brown is counting on Californians to approve to help fund the state budget, Pine reminded his colleagues."  Palo Alto Daily News/Bonnie Eslinger, 7/25/12.  "San Mateo County supes send half-cent sales tax increase to the November ballot."   Read Article.

"The split vote squeezed through with a 4-1 vote, meeting the four-fifths requirement for a tax measure. Supervisor Dave Pine cast the lone vote against the measure, reportedly saying he preferred a smaller quarter-cent surcharge.

The measure would last 10 years and generate an estimated $60 million annually, which would go toward balancing the costs of services. The proposed language of the measure singled medical programs and hospital facilities as possible uses for the money.

If approved by voters, the new measure would raise the sales tax from 8.25 percent to 8.75 throughout the entire county, including cities such as Half Moon Bay."  Half Moon Bay Review/Mark Noack, 7/24/12. "County supervisors put half-cent tax on ballot."   Read Article.
Posted by Kathy Meeh

San Bruno will buy a parcel to control the development

A city taking control, similar to what Pacifica did with our already city owned Beach Boulevard property?

The Daily Journal (San Mateo)/Heather Murtagh, 7/26/12.  "San Bruno aims to buy land for hotel."

San Bruno says "Just what the Doctor ordered"
"To ensure a vacant lot in a prime spot will be developed into what San Bruno officials say is a much-needed hotel, the City Council is making moves toward purchasing the land.

During an update Tuesday evening, City Manager Connie Jackson shared the details of the city’s bid to purchase the vacant lot south of Jack’s Restaurant, 1050 Admiral Court, and north of Interstate 380. The city is moving forward with a $1.4 million purchase. A $25,000 good faith payment was made, said Jackson. The due diligence period ends Aug. 1 allowing for the transaction to be completed by Aug. 15.

....  Jackson said acquiring the property will allow the city more power in determining which project ultimately fills the space. San Bruno could benefit from an all-suites hotel with conference facilities, she said. 

Paying for the site will come from one-time funds like developer fees and taxes the city has collected over the years, said Jackson."  Read Article. 

Note:  the land parcel is located on the El Camino Real, below Sneath Lane, near the 380 freeway exchange.   

Reference - City of San Bruno, City Data.

Submitted by Jim Alex 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Missing Pacifica Woman


Submitted by Jim Alex

The recession also targets children

California Fall ballot sales/high income tax will help public schools

San Francisco Chronicle/Neil J. Riley, 7/25/12.  "California sinks to 41st on kids' well-being."

We're just kids, give us a break
" A new study that shows California has fallen from 16th to 41st in the country when it comes to children's well-being. The rankings take into account economic well-being, education, health, and family and community."  This report is from " the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national philanthropy group for children, reported in its annual rankings Wednesday."

New criteria. Past studies put more emphasis on safety and health, an area where California does fairly well. But this year's report added new criteria, including math and reading proficiency, on-time graduation rates, the percentage of children in families with high housing costs and the percentage of children whose head of household lacks a high school diploma, all weak spots for the state based on data from 2009-11.

Help us help you
 The recession has hit education funding especially hard, and schools have been a constant target of state budget cuts. The state now spends more than $1,000 less per student than it did in 2007, according to the California Budget Project, a nonprofit public policy research group. Hoping to reverse the cutting trend, lawmakers will ask voters to approve $8 billion in tax hikes to stave off billions in cuts to public schools in November, while another ballot measure seeks to raise the state's income tax to fund education programs."

The California children well-being study and low rankings are from the Annie E. Casey Foundation Report.  Of 50 USA states the results and indicators are as follows: 1) economic 45th, 2) education 43rd, 3) health 23rd, 4) family and community 42nd.  Read Article.

Reference - Jerry Brown, latest news, 3/26/12, "Strong majority backs Jerry Brown's tax-hike initiative." "It would hike the state sales tax by a quarter-cent per dollar for the next four years and create a graduated surcharge on incomes of more than $250,000 that would last seven years."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Breaking news, NIMBYS always wanted quarry redevelopment, really

Pacifica Tribune, Letters to the Editor 7/25/12."Not a lie" by Peter Loeb 

"Editor, I thought it was strange to run Jim Wagner's announcement of the Chamber's political action committee as the lead "article" on the front page without even bothering to make it an actual article. It's just the announcement with no explanation. It's not in quotes, yet it refers to "we." Is that the editorial we or the Chamber we? Or have the Tribune and the Chamber merged? I'm not faulting Jim Wagner or the Chamber. They're doing their job. What I'm commenting on is the complete lack of editorial direction.  

25 years city council failed
to make this quarry dog hunt
Then I thought it was even stranger that in your opinion piece on the editorial page, you essentially call me a liar. You say "the notion that quarry development was going to be the 'crown jewel' of redevelopment was a serious lie."Then you repeat it: "Well, it's a lie."

As one of the key people who made redevelopment happen, and who put my own neighborhood in it along with the quarry and paid some serious prices for doing so (some other people paid far more serious prices, such as the loss of their business), I deeply resent being called a liar. The main reason for creating the redevelopment area was to put the quarry in it. The fact that later city councils did not have the vision or the will to make redevelopment happen in the quarry resulted in them fruitlessly waiting for the Developer Savior to come down from the sky and propose a perfect project, when the councils and staff should have been taking the lead and saying what the city wanted in the quarry and what the city was prepared to give to get it. That's how redevelopment was supposed to work. Instead, what we got was developers wanting approval for hundreds of houses. Twice, the voters had to tell them "No, that's not what we want."
 "... too late for ANY development"???

You call the "overlay" on the property that required a public vote on housing, a "brilliant anti-development move." I call it a way to protect the quarry from being entirely covered with a huge housing development. That is surely what would have happened unless there was a way to preserve the quarry's visitor-serving commercial potential. The requirement for a vote on housing did exactly that. But because the city wouldn't take the lead in redevelopment, it now looks like it's too late for any development. The regulatory environment changed, the economy collapsed, and the state budget crisis eliminated redevelopment.

Saying that quarry redevelopment is a "serious lie" is a serious insult to the city staff and council members who worked to create the redevelopment area and a plan for the quarry. Do you think the people who implemented redevelopment were intentionally trying to prevent development in the quarry? That's just dumb.

It was not a lie. It was inaction, ignorance of redevelopment, no guts and no forward thinking that resulted in no development in the quarry. It was people expecting an appropriate project to be handed to them rather than going out and making it happen, people with their heads stuck in the sand ... or somewhere else."

Okay not developing the quarry is outrageous,
but let's call the housing vote a Pinocchio overlay
Reference -  Fix Pacifica reprint, from  Elaine Larsen, Editor/Publisher, Pacifica Tribune editorial, 7/17/12. "Let's connect the dots-- why Pacifica is not succeeding financially."

What Elaine said about Quarry development.  ".... This is the most outrageous situation I've encountered. The Friends of Pacifica slate put a voter "overlay" on the property to ensure there wouldn't be too many houses. In short, they made sure that the public could always say "no" to any sort of development that involved houses. Even if there would be analysis and oversight beyond the public's knee-jerk reaction. That was a brilliant anti-development move because it's always easy to say "no" to housing before any hapless developer agrees to spend any sort of dime figuring out what can be built. Let's call a spade a spade: the notion that the quarry development was going to be the "crown jewel" of redevelopment was a serious lie that I repeated over and over as a young reporter. Well, it's a lie. Former Tribune Editor/Publisher Chris Hunter called it right: that once the city put the wastewater treatment plant on the site (which is still poorly functioning, I might add) that would guarantee there would never be development due to Fish and Wildlife involvement." 

Related - Fix Pacifica reprint of Jim Wagner's Pacifica Tribune article, "Pacifica Chamber of Commerce forms Business and Community Political Action Committee." 

Submitted by Jim Alex

Posted by Kathy Meeh