Thursday, July 3, 2014

Letter to City regarding General Plan - build new housing, 10% minimum affordable, remove the limit

Dear Lee, accept my comments on the proposed general plan.

I object to the housing  limits in the proposed general plan. We do not need to limit population growth without understanding the impacts. Maintaining a stagnant population has not worked for Pacifica over the past 30 years and it is time to stop.

While the population of San Mateo County has increased over 20% since 1980, The City of Pacifica has remained at around the same population for over 30 years with less than 2% growth. This has not worked for us and is partly to blame for our current economic crisis, high housing costs and struggling businesses. Nobody is talking about turning Pacifica into a Daly City, but we must grow more than what you are allowing for.

We not only need new housing, we desperately need new affordable housing. There should be at least 10% affordable housing built into each new project with no buyout option as we've seen in the past.

A very vocal group of Pacificans have have fought increased housing for decades on the flawed belief that added housing is a drain on city services. They base their claims on studies which were done in areas of the country with much lower home values and property tax than we have here in the Bay Area.

A study on housing and land use done by the City of San Mateo is much more relevant to Pacifica 

Here are some excerpts from the City of San Mateo study:
The traditional perspective has been that housing increases the burden of services
A number of recent studies have challenged that perception.
According to the City’s economic consultant the answer is “it depends”. Housing can "pay for itself" if the home values are high.
Housing does not tend to "pay for itself" when the values are low and/or municipal service costs are high. 

Pacifica needs to perform a similar study before we limit population increase in the general plan based on little or no local data.

When taking the benefit of new housing into account a city must consider all the benefits not just property tax. There will be more sales and other taxes, more businesses created, healthier businesses, increased fees, fines, permits, assessments and many more jobs created. 

Please do not hold Pacifica back for another 20 years. Remove the housing limit from the general plan.

Robert Hutchinson

ReferenceCity of Pacifica General Plan update.  ....  all comments on the DEIR must be received no later than July 10, 2014 before 5:00 PM. ....  Comments via email on the DEIR may be sent to:  Please contact Lee Diaz, Associate Planner, at (650) 738-7341 for further information. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh


Anonymous said...

Hey Lee, build lots of housing and don't forget to toss in another Hillsdale Shopping Center to give us that sustainable San Mateo equation. It's the balance of high priced real estate WITH robust sales tax revenue that works. Particularly true when the cost of city services is high--as it is in CA. Even Atherton has a $750 annual parcel tax because they can't make it on property tax alone and they have the most expensive real estate in the country. I'm sure none of this is news to you.

Anonymous said...

@ 1252 Pacifica has one of the lowest cost of service in the County. Atherton has zero retail. Pacifica has a healthy amount of retail. Yes we should add more along with more housing.

Anonymous said...

824 Atherton is a residential-only town with avg home price 4.5 million and it's still not enough in property tax to cover costs of city services. They raise nearly 2 million a year from their longterm parcel tax to make up the difference. Pacifica housing prices near 700K, and although we pay near the bottom in city salaries (BFD in the costliest county and metro-region in the country) we have been flat-ass broke every day for years. Do the math that our city councils apparently could not. Pacifica does not have a healthy amount of retail. We wouldn't have this longtime imbalance if that were true. In the decades following incorporation, our retail segment has shrunk to insignificant while housing has been added. Pacifica's considerable sales tax revenue goes to towns over the hill or down the peninsula because there is nothing of significance sold or made here. No cars, no appliances, no furniture, nada. Much easier to add housing than to add the kind of retail to support its cost. Our geography means we don't have the foot traffic and the out of town choices are unbeatable. And yet, I agree with you...people need homes. And planning more homes means paying for more services. It's a problem that requires an understanding of all the issues or we'll end up in a deeper hole.

Anonymous said...

I can only assume that Atherton used some kind of established formula to arrive at their annual $750 parcel tax.

Just some rough math, but according to the 2010 Census, Pacifica had 14,523 housing units (includes all types). Just to cover the $4 million shortfall that was recently discovered, the minimum parcel tax would have to be $275 per housing unit just to eradicate that debt. With a roughly $26 million dollar City budget,looks like each housing unit costs approximately $1790 for the City to operate.

Perhaps some greater minds can calculate the true annual cost per housing unit it would take to maintain the current levels of City services as well as build a reasonable reserve for future operational improvements.

Seems the only way out of this mess is to first get a City Council that willingly will be held accountable and then vote to tax ourselves back to solvency.

There's got to be some fiscally responsible leaders in place first though, who can refrain from writing checks at the drop of a hat, before I'd vote in favor of any increased taxation.

Anonymous said...

As long as we have storeslike Costco, Home Depot, Serramonte Center, in close proximity, Pacifica can not hope to rely on an increased retail revenue stream.

A better bet would be some type of light industry, perhaps a spillover of small companies from the Silicon Valley whose employees would see the wisdom of moving to our area. Always thought that Gypsy Hill would have made an ideal office park with minimal impact on Pacifica residents while giving us a shot at good revenue. Conveniently situated with easy access from the City, Peninsula,and Pacifica.

Too bad that GoPro guy started up in Half Moon Bay rather than in our town, we might have made a few shekels before GoPro jumped ship and headed over the hill to San Mateo

Steve Sinai said...

"Pacifica has a healthy amount of retail."

A lot of people would disagree.

Kathy Meeh said...

Market research would or has solved the public contest of what regional options would give the highest and best return in the quarry. This city, the coast, and nearby cities could all benefit from our quarry development (with tax revenue paid to/through our city).

Since so many Pacificans, including Peter Loeb, shop at Costco, no reason such a business (or most other big boxes) might not thrive in the quarry (just off highway 1). And don't forget about the custom discount outlet idea in combination with other business ventures. If not these, there is the researched alternative of a mix-use downtown with housing, similar to the Peebles 2006 effort.

Any and/or all of the above would be helpful to improve the economy of this city, duh. Bringing in the tech industry (any light industry) somewhere in this city could also be beneficial to those who live here. Jobs, services, city revenue, a short commute for some of our residents-- what's not to like?

Hutch said...

We have to grow. We're one of the only cities around that hasn't increased population in 30 years. You think that's sustainable? Has that worked for us?

1035 You can't compare us to Atherton, they have no retail. If anything Atherton's cost of service is so high because their population is so small which proved my argument.

1218, you're forgetting that new housing benefits go far beyond just property tax. Just make sure the city figures everything in, added jobs, business, taxes, fees etc. And with more affordable housing 1000's of Pacificans would have more disposable income.

Bottom line, we aren't going to know the truth without doing a study specific to Pacifica. I hate to call for a study but we need it here.

Anonymous said...

Grow where?

The quarry=off limits according to his highness Loeb.

Mori's Point=GGNRA

Carlson Property=Pedro Point nimbys want to keep it a dog walking field forever.

Cattle Hill=GGNRA

Old Waste Water Treatment Plant=cluster f*ck due to the city insisting the library is put on the site.

Anonymous said...

Atherton is an excellent example of the financial vulnerability of a town without much in the way of revenue other than property tax. If the property tax on the most expensive real estate in the country isn't enough to run a city of about 7000 people, then it probably isn't enough anywhere. And certainly claims that San Mateo proves housing pays its way are disingenuous when they fail to mention the role of Hillsdale Shopping Center. Claims that Pacifica has a healthy amount of retail are simply ludicrous.
Atherton's conclusions from the latest ballot argument for their parcel tax will ring a bell with Pacificans: They have no revenue from retail sales and little from any source other than property tax. They've relied on a parcel tax for 30 years (the post prop-13 era). They place the highest priority on maintaining adequate reserves. City services of fire and police account for over 50% of budget.
No easy solution in land-poor Pacifica, but it's clear we can't afford to waste what's left on the wrong solution. Revenue producers with the lightest load on city services are what we need. Big box and chain shopping, hotels, light industry, tech are in that category.

Anonymous said...

Hutch, look no farther than this town to see you're mistaken. We added housing and lost retail and replaced it with nothing but GGNRA open space. Even worse, that mindset is still in charge of land use. A library and council chambers on Beach Blvd is this council's dream.
Slightly more palatable than just the council chambers planned 6 or 7 years ago but still the same mindset on land use. And it's all about land use.

Anonymous said...

Haha this being Pacifica, the land that time forgot, we will stumble our way into some sort of economic development just as the economy tanks again. Bet on it.

Anonymous said...

The NIMBY's hate this idea of adding more housing. This is their religion you are blaspheming when you say housing can pay it's way. How dare San Mateo say otherwise.

These caring humanitarian hippies. Do they care that there's a housing shortage and their brothers are scrimping to pay $2500 rents? No, they got theirs. So what if the US population has gone up 100M. Don't come here to live. Not Pacifica. Let other cities build housing. Not Pacifica. We are an island unto ourselves.

Anonymous said...

317 that's an idiotic argument trying to compare a town of 7000 to a town of 38,000. A town with virtually no retail to a town with 100's of retail establishments. Yes their homes are more valuable, but we have 6 times as many. Most of the elderly residents are under prop 13 in Atherton. Services for such an affluent elderly population are extremely expensive. Atherton only has 2400 households compared with 15000 in Pacifica.

If anything this illustrates that a smaller population city has a tougher time paying the bills.

Anonymous said...

429 That's you doing the comparing and missing the point, as usual. And on the heels of all that fire and brimstone @417. Oh my! Hillsdale sends their best and you may call Atherton elitist, affluent, even out of touch, but elderly? You go too far.

Anonymous said...

429 It illustrates that for CA cities, whether poor or affluent, property tax isn't nearly enough. Pretty damn clear.

Anonymous said...

You wanna save your downtrodden brothers, take care of yourself first. That's the only way to be in a position to help others. Then, do all you can. That applies to cities as well as individuals. Apparently, not part of the Pacifica credo of the last 30 years.

Anonymous said...

Pacifica should cut all welfare programs first.

Hutch said...

The quarry is still in play. Unlikely but still in play. Putting a limit on housing could scare off a potential developer of any large tract. We are already known as unfriendly to out of town developers. Do we want to reinforce that image? Yes we need retail but we also need housing. You can't go 30 years at the same population while the rest of the world grows and not be left behind. You want proof look at the mess we're in.

You want to compare cities? Daly City up 10% since 1990, SSF up 20%, Millbrae up 10%, Burlingame up 10% and HMB up 23%, Brisbane up 30%

Pacifica up .5%. since 1990

Does that seem right? Do you think were are doing better than any of those cities? Yes they mostly have more retail except HMB. We need more retail and commercial too. But we have to stop restricting growth.

Anonymous said...

Being sarcastic? Perhaps we should see which of our programs are made redundant by SMC programs and services. Sacrilege, I know, but we may soon be at the point where this city cuts the PRC. This may be the only way to save essential safety net programs not offered elsewhere. I believe the mayor may have touched on this ever so delicately during budget sessions.

Kathy Meeh said...

820, other San Mateo County assistance programs do not seem to be redundant, but apparently services along the coast are not as accessible as those in the SMC peninsula. (Comments from Mayor Nihart at City Council).

The Pacifica Resource Center is an essential lifeline in this city. No way will the city (city council) cut its funding. see Tribune article, 7/1/14.

Anonymous said...

PRC should go. It attracts all sorts of undesirables into the area.

Anonymous said...

Isn't your comment undesirable, Libertarian 1016?

Anonymous said...

Its sheer stupidity to give alms in debt. Welfare should be considered only after the institution (any) has achieved its own sustainability.
Can't afford it.

Anonymous said...

No it isn't. Public "welfare" re-inforces bad behavior. Moral hazard. When the individual knows he has recourse to shelter even after being irresponsible, the individual develops incentive to be irresponsible. Ergo, undesirable behavior. Govt should not playing the part of the bad parent. If private people want to donate and support, good for them. But it is not the govt responsibility to shore up for undesirable behavior.

Anonymous said...

Pacifica Beach Coalition should also go. How about a fine of $100 for littering on the beach? What is this nonsense of paying volunteers to clean up and letting go of those who actually litter the beach.

Hutch said...

Some people out of touch here. 10:49 you sound like one of the same misguided folks who didn't care if measure v hurt poor people here.

Maybe you don't know it but many single parents, veterans, disabled persons, seniors in Pacifica barely scrape by. And it's by no fault of their own.

Turn off Fox News.

Anonymous said...

Cost of living in Oklahoma is much lower and affordable. It would certainly help them should they collectively move there. Alternately, next door Nevada is another option. No state income tax and super cheap rents.

Anonymous said...

Our isolation would seem to make the PRC safe from cuts, but our budget woes are far from over and there is no new revenue in the pipeline. None.

Anonymous said...

Sounding a little medieval on here.

Kathy Meeh said...

1016, 1042, 1049, 1138, 1155 Libertarian, your view of community is outside any normal context. Its as if you dropped into Earth from some distant planet.

We're so fortunate to have such a good human safety net with the Pacifica Resource Center (as described by Hutch 1121). And the Pacifica Beach Coalition has provided extensive labor to keep this city clean. Volunteers in this city support the work of both organizations.

How much would it cost more prosperous cities to provide such paid labor? In your journey learning to become human, you might gain wisdom in volunteering. Maybe begin with the Beach Coalition.

Anonymous said...

To be clear, I do not favor any cuts
to the PRC no matter how broke this town becomes. They do vital work and the work load is growing. No local politician would openly support cutting the PRC because of the bad personal publicity that would go with. But the PRC may be at risk from the kind of 'streamlining' that can happen behind the scenes and out of the public's view. Key donors often feel their donation entitles them to meddle, to look for overlap and redundancies with other social service providers. Donors may feel they have expertise that qualifies them or maybe bureaucracy is their life. It often begins as another review of services "to see where the money goes". Nothing in this life is as reviewed and regulated as a social service agency. The county,state and feds are all over them and Tides provides the PRC a professional, world class administrative umbrella. I would hope Ms. Rees does not have to put up with any meddling from this city under any disguise. It would be a ridiculous waste of time and, frankly, it isn't the PRC that needs review.

Kathy Meeh said...

1004, unless you've got a specific complaint, you're speculating and there is no city boogeyman. If anything, it seems the city (specifically Mayor Nihart) is looking for more County agencies to coordinate with our Resource Center. Presenting an annual report for the $80,000 stipend the Resource Center receives seems reasonable.

Anonymous said...

PRC promotes drug addicts and homelessness. Pacifica/Coastside has many of them. If there is no PRC, these people might actually consider putting their back into work. Or better yet actually try to foster a real sense of family.

Family is the root of community. Its the kinship bonds that enable sharing, caring, loving and understanding. However, this new-neo-liberal idea of "community" based on welfare state is not only dangerous to the notion of family but it also forces individuals to make choices that are not necessarily in their best self-interest.

Govt dole breeds poverty. All those people living on food stamps, welfare and other handouts are doomed because of. PRC does not foster community. It breeds dependency and indolence. It takes people out of labor force, increases cost of living, strains infrastructure, promotes ghettos, encourages thievery and imposes a drag on economy. This is the same stupidity as maintaining soup kitchens in the heart of San Francisco on prime real estate where these people have not even the basic incentive to not defecate publicly. While the actual hardworking people are priced out of buying/renting a home so they can work towards their economic goals and general well being.

Leave the service of not-so-fortunate co-fellows to traditional service organizations such as Churches, Temples etc. Govt has no business in welfare. Do not foster Compassion/Savior Industrial Complex that is devoid of true companionship and understanding -- but seeks to empower itself in the name of community by the way of insidious taxation.

How about you lower my taxes, so I have more pennies in my pocket and let me make the decision to support a charity or not.

Stop this nonsense.

Kathy Meeh said...

1119, Libertarian back again. The hogwash net result of your USA community advocacy would mirror Bangladesh, Somalia, or "stone age". There is no justification for such willful blindness and for what you pass-off as "family values" in today's world.

You, yourself, do not live in such a world. As mentioned, try harder to gain wisdom, humble your viewpoint. Some volunteerism may help you better understand the hardship and challenges of others. What breeds "soup kitchens" is poverty. Efforts to fix underlying poverty is what we can do.

Anonymous said...


Net poverty in the US has increased in the last few decades in spite of rise of Savior Industrial Complex.

Inflation is running wild. General public is laden with debt. It is coming to pass that children are born into debt. If this isn't a return to middle ages, I don't know what is.

And if we keep it this way, I am pretty sure dystopia will be there for all. The condition of Pacifica is a manifestation of govt expenditure gone wrong. Its not a problem of revenues. By encouraging unsustainable social services, Pacifica has gotten itself into the disproportionate population to services ratio it is in.

If you can't afford to live in Pacifica, it is in your interest to move to where you can.

Anonymous said...


You must have been asleep or hiding under a rock when the socialist experiment blew up spectacularly in the not so distant past.

With all the govt welfare and debt, USA is well on its way to out do Bangladesh or Somalia.

Bangladesh has actually improved its net economy and managed to bring out more people out of poverty than USA -- and without any state welfare!

China has already out done US.
And US has been unable to retain its #1 position -- not to mention a host of screw ups both internationally and nationally. Ever bothered to ask yourself why?

You probably don't care as long as that handout check is coming your away. Welfare is an addiction. And in your case, it seems its way past and well to the point of clouding your reality. Whether you like it or not, those handouts will go away. And you can go join the Occupy Wall St freaks and go back to puffing it up and Kumbaya while the rest of the world leaves USA trailing in its dust.

Hutch said...

Wow 1216 & 1229 are you going to Murrieta to protest the children?

What an ignorant thing to say "If you can't afford to live in Pacifica, it is in your interest to move to where you can." Do you have any idea how stupid a statement that is?

Now I'm sure you were the same little person spouting that crap during the phone tax campaign and now I have an idea who you are.

You do realize that every single town in the nation has people that are struggling to survive? Are they supposed to move to Central America?

What a small minded little person. You must be very popular with the skinheads. Again II say TURN OFF FOX NEWS.

And use your real name if you're so proud of your bigotry.

Kathy Meeh said...

1004, 1119, 1229 Libertarian, you've had your say, and what you say is full of contradiction.

1119, you're a self-proclaimed atheist who would pass welfare on to the already overly burdened churches/temples. And what are the chances you would contribute to such programs? Duh, none.

1216. Somehow in your poverty commentary, you missed the aftermath of the worldwide recession-- remember that? And "inflation running wild" is not supported by the primary affect of inflation: rising interest rates. City expenditure for charities which save the city tons of money is a tiny portion of the budget, yet you seem to favor resulting chaos.

Could be time for you to take some refresher civics and economics classes (Skyline College is nearby). The emerging 3rd world countries you cite as improving poverty faster than the USA are hardly comparable. China has worked on improving its economy and its welfare, and is one of our trading partners (usually favoring themselves).

The balance of your comments are pure trash, as explained by Hutch 103.

Anonymous said...

Kathy@1111 Whether it's due to speculation or experience, I cannot share your trusting and rosy outlook re the PRC and city relationship, but time will tell. I am glad to hear that Mayor Nihart has turned her attention to the mental health resources available to people in crisis in Pacifica, including the police. No one wants to see a repetition of the Chang tragedy, and, this mayor has valuable expertise to contribute. Anyone who acts to limit barbarity is doing good work, be they a mayor or Madame Editor of Fix Pacifica.

Anonymous said...

Libertarian, for a guy renting in the trailer park you sure are a snob.

Anonymous said...

PRC will wither and die away.
The council doesn't really care for it, if not for presenting some assumed sense of "decorum" and "decency".

Of course, it is easy to pretend to be 'decent', 'moral' and other virtuous behaviors as long as the change comes out of someone else's pockets (namely the tax payers) and the resulting benefit however is accrued to the council members and their coin rattling gang. Or otherwise also known as the assumed "Gang of Yes!"

Here is a taste of what is about to become of Pacifica

Homelessness in Pacifica

These people end up homeless because of a withering economy and lack of marketable skills. Combined with increasing cost of living. These are the people who are victims of quantitative easing (lower interest rates).

Lower interest rates result in increased cost of goods. This drives jobs to low cost destinations and also encourages search for efficiency. The side-effect is people who can't keep up get dropped off without jobs. And of course they can go to school and incur more debt by the time they graduate by which time China has made it completely redundant to hire Americans for the most part.

Activities like PRC are then just a nicety to cover for the massive failure of welfare state.

By the way, why do these people insist on being part of a community that is unable to help them? Why do they want to suffer the humiliation and indignity of receiving hand outs? Why is it, they haven't been able to accrue any equity for a situation like this? Is it the case that they've squandered away their good years and now ended up on the dole?

Is this the example you want to set to the next generation?
Aiming to become a nation of coin rattlers?

Why not do this in say Stockton or Manteca? $88K will realize more value per dollar than in ever costly SF Bay Area.

Why do you want to encourage this stupidity?

Tom Clifford said...

City Council by changing the funding source of the PRC from the General Fund to the ERAF monies has taken a giant step towards not funding them at all. Both the amount of money the City will receive form ERAF and how long those funds will be available is out of Pacifica's control.

Anonymous said...

It's not what they say and write that reveals intention, it's what they do. I doubt the entire council is even aware of the implications of
some of the stuff they agree to.

Kathy Meeh said...

435 Libertarian, there you go. The city may spend the money it invests in the PRC (resource center) on buses to deport low income residents to "Stockton or Manteca". Why stop there? Here's a list of the smallest towns in California from Better for our California tax dollar, drive "them" outside California. Better for our Federal tax dollar, smuggle "them" into Mexico, where its warmer. "They" can enjoy a protein-rich diet of beans and corn tortillas, and live off the land. Now that's a truly massive win for Medieval thinking (as mentioned by a prior Anonymous).

Quantitative easing is a federal central bank tool for managing monetary supply and liquidity. Contrary to your comments, lowering interest rates to promote lending has no resulting higher cost of goods or "runaway inflation" affect. None. The dots don't connect. And whether jobs are outsourced through the incentive of lower cost lending is a Congressional legislative issue.

Tom 829, true the ERAF monies are finite, but it seems unconscionable that the city (city council) would not find stipend funding for the PRC.

435, moral to these stories: nothing unites people of higher consciousness (NIMBIES and Moderates) more than amoral intention and commentary. In this instance, from you poster boy claiming to represent "local Libertarianism".

Anonymous said...

Ugly ideas are as old as the human race. You can dress them up with any
ideological label you want, hide them behind economics or even nationalism, but they're still ugly ideas.

Anonymous said...

Toughest fiscal times are ahead of Pacifica, not behind. Nothing is guaranteed, other than public employee pensions. We're the guarantor of those. Just speculating, but city threats to the PRC didn't get Measure V passed. What political value does it really have? Is it untouchable? Are there redundancies and duplicated services? Even a partial funding cut could be devastating in terms of being able to raise funds from other sources because if the PRC's home city doesn't see it as a priority, then why should anyone else? I think it is very vulnerable. All that is just an opinion. It's a fact that they have a smart and resourceful director.