Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Livability Center

Connecting the dots - vision for Beach Blvd/Palmetto Avenue

Here's the plan you didn't hear about, although you'd be expected to pay for it.

The plan: The Livability Center.  "Extreme Recycling:  The Pacifica (old) Wastewater Treatment Plant Transformed into a Center for Sustainable Living", "concept overview" report from Kelley Rajala, 3/2006 produced for The Livability Project. This center for old and young hippies is described as "... "a vision and world-class example of sustainability for the future...a trail-blazing hub for green commerce...the best attributes of public service, social enterprise and the commercial rigors of the private sector (page 2)...a destination for visitors..children..dogs" (page 3).  The total project completion: 3 years to build "if we all work together as a true community in a collaborative manner," (page 3), sure we'll do that.  

"Who is going to finance this type of project?  We will.  This project will be funded by Pacifica residents using the Pacifica Community Investment Fund," (page 3). Oops. "Who will own it?  The Center will be owned collaboratively by the city, the business owners and the community who invest in the project," (page 3). Double oops. 

Commentary. The proposed "Center for Sustainable Living" project report is not timid in concept or language, and
the vision report stands boldly on The Livability (communities) Project website, (second item under Pacifica).  Seemingly there is indication that city approval for such a project could be considered and acceptable at Beach Blvd/Palmetto Avenue.  And, we continue to hear the mantra of "public-private partnerships" from 8 year city councilmembers, particularly from Councilmember Vreeland.

"Public-private partnerships" was the paradigm "negotiation tool" used by city council sub-committee members Vreeland and Lancelle (post Measure L), which caused Peebles Corporation to walk away 3/09.  Follow-up comments from Councilmember Vreeland amounted to "good, now we can do it our way, and pursue public-private partnerships in the quarry." Apparently "public-private partnerships" was also the initial proposed arrangement for the biodiesel plant fiasco: "Whole Energy is one-third of a partnership that also includes the city and a local nonprofit, Livability Project, whose members introduced the idea of a local plant," article from Sasha Vasilyuk, 12/05/2007.
When I attended the city consultant
Palmetto streetscape presentation 1/09,  the audience turn-out was about 85% "nothing for Pacifica city council friends", and there was only a few follow-up questions asked by them. At that time I wondered why.  Now the dots seem to connect to the "The Livability Center concept", another potential "pet project" for this city council. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh


ian butler said...

Thanks Kathy for providing the link to this plan. You apparently aren't enamored of it, but I checked it out and find it a bold and innovative approach to revitalizing the area. My personal favorite plan for that location was the Ocean Discovery Center, which isn't exactly dead yet, but many of the structures that the ODC incorporated into it's design were torn down after the city chose to go with the Swenson plan. Obviously none of the many plans proposed for the spot have come to fruition, but that doesn't mean that they haven't been well thought out. Unfortunately, the bolder the plan the more difficult it may be to implement.

I object to the characterization of supporters of this particular plan as "nothing for Pacifica". If it were to be built there is a great likelihood it would generate quite a bit for Pacifica. We all want a vibrant properly-funded community, but we have differing views on how to achieve that, which unfortunately often leads to a stalemate. The trick is to get enough of us to agree on a plan of action and moving forward, which is impossible if you alienate the majority of the population by repeatedly dismissing them as "Nothing for Pacifica City Council Friends".

CPA said...

Show us the numbers Ian. How much money will this bring into the city?

Kathy Meeh said...

Ian this "sustainable environment village" along with an "ocean discovery project" are good choices to put on GGNRA property-- because what this city needs is commercial/retail tax revenue producing properties which also bring-in service and jobs.

Productive tax revenue development is needed in the quarry, Palmetto Av/Beach Blvd and other logical areas that can be developed without bankrupting the builder.

Fix the highway, save the golf course, fix the sewer, build "green housing" (include low income), fix city infrastructure (including roads). Stop relying on property owners and volunteerism to help pay the city overhead.

Add progress: systematically underground telephone/utility wires, sewer laterals (the city used to pay for replacement of most of these 6-7 years ago). Build a new, efficient city hall that is ADA compliant, build and maintain a city dog park, complete the city museum, retain an actual city reserve. Maintain city services and a city budget that is adequate to this city's population needs.

Your "friends" including city council have represented "nothing for Pacifica", call it what it is. 8 years of self-inflicted city economic/budget/financial failure is enough.

Ian, you personally are a very charming guy, and I love your forums, but along with other moderate citizens I'm tired of a broken and divided city. We need balance, we do not need more taxes, fees and a plan justification to keep the city broke, inadequate, and fiscally irresponsible.

Anonymous said...


Almost everything you've proposed in the post above, while nice, wouldn't generate a dime of revenue for the city and would in fact cost the city a fair chunk of change.

What would you put in place at the WTPT space right now?

Please be specific beyond "productive tax revenue development."

Enquiring Minds want to know said...

Let's have Ian respond to his post? Show us the numbers how this will work in the Waste Water Treatment plant.

Kathy Meeh said...

"Enquiring" Ian may be on vacation, so I'll attempt to answer Anonymous.

Anon, how about hire a consultant to propose a "highest and best use" area plan, or put the property up for sale and let the developer take it from there? That's what most cities who are serious about developing an area would do.

Was the "Livability Center Plan" intended to supplant the WESTPAC plan, which was never just to be a "streetscape" in the first place?

Ah, but what would I do? Assuming this was a city with a bankroll and a vision, I'd transition that area into more of a commerce/retail square, rather than a strip. To do this might require some eminent domain purchase of properties, and declaration of this area as a redevelopment zone. Redevelopment benefits might be possible without city council chambers there. A consultant proposed that city council chambers might be moved to the area of city hall with reconstruction. As usual the city doesn't have the money to do this. Again this is a confused "nothing for Pacifica" problem promoted by 8 year city council and "friends" (that would include you of course).

Deal with overdue Infrastructure: Continue the sewer pipe artery away from the ocean as intended when the new WWTP was transitioned (1998-2000). At the same time plant the overhead wire utilities undergrounded (unless there's some engineering reason not too).

Whatever is built and transitioned in the Beach/Palmetto area should be generally "friendly" to neighborhood (and that includes everyone not just the city eco-faction). Adding services and jobs would also be a plus. From my view a commerce/retail solution would be a preferred concept to that of an eco-village with 5 offices, another off-beach pub, and a fruit stand.

Anonymous said...

I'm asking YOU what you would put in there.

In other words, you have no specific idea of what to put there beyond "give it to a developer and let them figure it out."

You criticize this plan -- at least it's a plan -- but offer none of your own besides a nebulous "commerce retail square" which could mean anything.

It sounds to me that the "eco-village with 5 offices, another off-beach pub, and a fruit stand" pretty much fits the definition of commerce/retail that you want.

It would bring in badly needed revenue, but I guess you'd prefer the site to remain a useless patch of dirt generating zero revenue?

Dog park? Zero revenue generation
Underground our utilities? Zero revenue generation
Repair sewer? Zero revenue generation
City museum? Zero revenue generation
Building low income "green houses"? Zero revenue generation

Why don't you get onboard the winning team and support a solution that generates revenue for the city instead of your solutions that will end up costing me and every other taxpayer in Pacifica more $$$ in the end.

Kathy Meeh said...

$17 million annual tax revenue produce by the quarry redevelopment through Measure L (2006)is priceless. I suspect you campaigned against that.

These $0 values you state above are what cities do to improve their community when they have enough money to function. 8 years no effort here. Note: the sewer artery was supposed to be re-routed with the new sewer plan transition (2000). It follows that the overhead utilities lines should also be planted. These are safety issues.

Another "strong hold" for hippies is not any plan of "commerce" for a city. So you chose to twist what I did say (which was clear enough). What I would not put at Beach/Palmetto is "a low-economic-potential eco-center". What? You planned to be the manager of the recycling center there?

You didn't answer my question: Was the "Livability Center Plan" intended to supplant the WESTPAC plan, which was never intended to be just a "streetscape" plan?

Anonymous said...

An income-generating enterprise for the old sewer plant location is put forth. You complain about it and oppose it.

When asked what specifically you would put there instead... evasions.

Got it.

And so the lot sits empty generating no funds for the city, but you got your way while we all lose. It looks like you only support projects that don't generate revenue and will increase all our tax $$$. Good work.

ian butler said...

It appears that a certain poster is falling back into his old tricks. One of his posts has already been deleted (thanks Steve) for abusing the terms of use. The question he repeatedly asks is absurd. I never professed to have 'the numbers' regarding the Livability Center, in fact I never saw the plan until Kathy posted the link to it. I only postulated that the project, even though not my first preference, would generate more revenue than no project at all, and that the "Nothing for Pacifica" plan would by definition be - nothing. I don't plan to post further on the topic, so please don't take my silence personally.

Kathy Meeh said...

Anon, 1) do the study, 2) develop the plan. That's how a city that is interested in developing an area generally proceeds, unless they sell the land to a developer who does the same.

I also appreciate Ian's comments, because until studies are made and a concept is determined, specifics leading to a project and possible economic values are so much "hot air". Of course the design of the "Livability Center" would have low-economic value.

But Anon, you seem to know about this "Livability Center" ad hoc plan (concept). Again, I ask the question: "Was the "Livability Center Plan" intended to supplant the WESTPAC plan concept? And, was there a promise from city council to move forward and build this project at the expense of our citizens?

Steve Sinai said...

I also didn't know anything about "The Livability Center" until Kathy posted about it. I'm all for brainstorming ideas, but after looking at the proposal, complete with a conceptual rendering drawn in crayon, I don't know how anyone could take it seriously. Obviously, no one did.

The city has shown repeatedly that it's incapable of coming up with good business ideas, i.e., ideas that make money for the city rather than require some kind of government grant to operate. It certainly has no "business" trying to play the role of developer. The biodiesel plant was the last straw. The one time I thought the city actually had a good idea it could pull off, it proved me wrong by botching it.

We need to advertise that the old WWTP is available, and open it up to bids. Almost any project that's primarily commercial/retail would be ok with me. We should have done this five years ago, but Jimmy V. had other ideas. Yet again, another botch-up by the city.

Beggars can't be choosers, and we're definitely beggars. Any project that isn't viewed as being "at one with the earth" or carbon-neutral is automatically rejected in this town. We don't have that luxury.

Anonymous said...

The city has no bankroll. The "plan" to save our finances is bogus. The last developer (Swenson?) who looked at the WWTP site couldn't get it for a low enough price to suit them.
What do you think it's worth now? If you answered, "A whole lot less," go to the head of the class.

jim alex said...


The highest and best use is in the appraisal for the old Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Anonymous said...

"highest and best use" is always real estate language for residential. that's what will get the most $ for the site. and the more units, the more $. think 3 stories of condos.

Anonymous said...

And residential isn't much of a revenue boost because property tax tends to be balanced out by the additional services needed.

Of course you'd have the one-time infusion of cash due to the sale of the property.

Kathy Meeh said...

Hi Jim, my "highest, best use" reference was related to the project development, which would follow suggest land usage (such as mixed-use, commercial, retail, industrial). You may have better insight and information with regard to land-use and if so please advise. (Anon, "highest, best use" is a broad term for many aspects of development).

Thinking about the 8 year city council push for "private-public partnerships" (verbalized by Councilmember Vreeland), and examples as stated above in the "livability center" and the DOA biodiesel plant-- what 8 year city council seems to be moving toward is the city taking an ongoing "piece of the action" as in franchise fees and now exampled in private development.

This legal "mafia style" economic approach includes 1) the take, as well as 2) the city portion of property and sales taxes from any private business profits while the private developer/business owner/renter/corporation/proprietor pays the overhead, payroll, benefits, all taxes and absorbs insurance, liability and regulation cost. Thus, in this approach the low-level city budget will be balanced.

This election visitors will pay the additional regressive TOT tax should that tax pass. The additional city tax we will pay legally embedded in our utilities bill. Next year 2 more city taxes proposed paid by us. The progression of fees, taxes, passing more cost to residents and volunteerism under the leadership of the 8 year city council is expected to continue should the 3 incumbent city councilmembers be re-elected.

Hey, I hear the city is talking to several developers who have showed interest in the quarry. Wonder what they're saying? Try "have we got a public-private 'pet project' partnership plan for you."

Stop this city council leadership nonsense now, vote them out. This is still America where private land ownership and private enterprise should not be encumbered by a parasitic city.

Kathy Meeh said...

Anon @ 4:21pm, other San Mateo peninsula cities provide better services, commercial/retail infrastructure for their citizens, based upon general fund spending per capita. Pacifica, on the other hand, is "dead last", and was 12% lower than East Palo Alto when I did that study a few years back.

Guess your theory isn't working-out, except it may workable in Pacifica where people travel over-the-hill to spend their money. These other cities collect sales taxes, just as Pacifica does at a low-level. Therein is the problem.

Of course according to your theory, did it occur to you that an empty city with no people would produce the best result?

Anonymous said...

Kathy Meeh said, "Anon, "highest, best use" is a broad term for many aspects of development." Once again, she does not know what she's talking about.

Highest and best use is a concept in real estate appraisal. The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice defines is as the reasonably probable use that results in the highest property value. In a suburban, bedroom community like Pacifica without a large, intensively developed commercial area, residential is the highest and best use. Even in downtown San Francisco, builders are building high rise residential, not commercial. It's where the money is. And it produces the highest land value.

Anonymous said...

I genuinely think Kathy has some cognitive issues.

I mean, now she's saying I'm pushing some sort of "theory."

A theory? About what? For what? Who knows -- I certainly don't. Only Kathy.

I guess the Moon Men tell her this stuff.

Kathy Meeh said...

Right, what would I know with only a background in Certified Financial Planning, the 8 Real Estate broker courses, and being a Registered Principal branch manager in securities. Even commercial real estate partnerships consider "highest and best use".

Unfortunately your only purpose under anonymous cover seems to be to cause confusion. And, what you have described and proposed as the best citizen vs. services model for a city amounts to a zero population city.

The reason there are economic problems in this city is that the tax producing business economy is inadequate. The city economy was inadequate when this city council came into to office, and they have worked very hard to make it worse. Imagine the 8 year city council economic goal proclaimed as "recreation" without the proper city infrastructure to make that goal viable (wink,wink). So, Anon, the "Moon Men" you refer to seem to be 8 year city council, your "friends", Anonymous and Anonymous (which may be you and you).

Unfortunately the economically adverse actions of this city council has consequences.

Anonymous said...

Look at your post @5:20, Kathy. You claimed I had a "theory." Twice in fact.

Can you explain what this "theory" is since I'm unaware of it myself?

Now @7:27 you say my posts have a specific "purpose." You can explain that as well.

I eagerly await the conspiracies you have to explain my posts. You can skip "wants to destroy Pacifica," as that's your mantra on this board and we've all seen you accuse anyone and everyone of this a million times already.

Kathy Meeh said...

Here it is at 7:27PM, 2nd paragraph: "..what you have described and proposed as the best citizen vs. services model for a city amounts to a zero population city." This is your logic, and potentially may have something to do with your conspiracy.

Markus said...

I would think that a number of commercial developers would be very much interested in a prime beachfront property with a close by pier. The property was appraised @ $8 million a few years ago. As Steve mentioned, all the city needs to do is advertise it for sale and request bids. The developers will submit bids along with their intentions, which can then be reviewed by the city. Having said that, word spreads quickly in the commercial development industry. As long as the present council members hold the majority council vote, no developers will touch any property Pacifica offers. We need to replace the 3 incumbents with people open to development visions not only in eco-tourism. As Kathy pointed out, Prop. L was a missed golden oppotunity.