Saturday, March 31, 2012

Half Moon Bay - anything but develop, try a sales tax again

Avoid economic development, and don't tax us.  Does this sounds familiar?  Our city fees for "everything" are high, Half Moon Bay could learn from us.    

Half Moon Bay Review/Mark Novack, 3/29/12. "HMB floats new sales tax idea, public outcry dooms paid parking."

Charming downtown- no parking meters
"Dumping plans to charge for parking, Half Moon Bay leaders are now looking to a new sales tax as a possible lifeline for a local government that has cut services and laid off employees over the past several years.  But City Council members recall the difficulty they had little more than a year ago selling a tax increase to skeptical voters. City leaders tried and failed to pass a one-cent sales tax increase in 2010. The measure had support from business organizations, but it withered amid resistance from many individual merchants who protested they were still feeling the economic pinch from a nationwide recession.

Many of the same merchants rallied last week to urge the council to scuttle plans to charge drivers for parking downtown. “I think I heard what everyone said tonight — we’re not ready for paid parking,” said Councilwoman Marina Fraser during a public meeting March 20. “In the future, we’d like to see more community support (for a sales tax) … with the help of merchants on Main Street.”

At the March 20 meeting, a crowd of unhappy merchants and residents unanimously urged the city to consider some other way to generate revenues, saying paid parking would ultimately harm Half Moon Bay. Business owners complained the proposal would coincide with upcoming work on the Main Street Bridge to create a “double whammy” that would disrupt downtown commerce.
“We’d be ruining the charm of our town by (nickel and diming) people who come here to eat and shop,” city resident Marcia Traversaro said to the council. “If you’ve gotten a ticket in a town, it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”

At the tail end of the meeting, council members relented and a majority seemed to back the concept of a half-cent city sales tax that could go on a future ballot. The idea was first suggested by It’s Italia restaurant owner Betsy Del Fierro, who indicated it would be a better solution for Main Street merchants. Taking up the tax idea,

Try to pass a sales tax again
Councilwoman Naomi Patridge warned those in attendance that, if they were so firmly against paid parking, then the city needed their support for the tax. “If we’re going to have people fighting and stabbing us, then (paid parking) isn’t worth it,” she said. “I’m keeping all of you to your word that you’ll support this council with the sales tax. “If you don’t, I guarantee you, your streets’ (upkeep) and other things won’t get done,” she added. Patridge suggested a half-cent sales tax for the next three years — a proposal that could be more palatable for voters because it cuts in half the increase and time period proposed in 2010.

Other council members followed suit and agreed to lay to rest the paid-parking idea, but they reminded the audience more than once about the uphill battle they faced to pass a sales tax in 2010. Councilman Rick Kowalczyk, who opposed the past tax increase, admitted he was conflicted about backing a new tax. “The principle of a sales tax is counterintuitive,” he started, “But I would support it if … a significant piece was used to promote the community.”

Going into the March 20 meeting, city leaders had put their support behind paid parking downtown, saying the idea carried little risk and could actually rotate more customers into shops and restaurants. The proposal wouldn’t have come cheaply, costing the city about $500,000 in equipment and another $330,000 a year in maintenance and enforcement. Staff recommended the council charge a rate of $1.50 an hour to recoup the cost quickly."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

CA higher education classes expensive and cut

If you're affected by the school cutbacks better get your college classes any where you can, and do keep advancing your education. 

San Francisco Chronicle/Nanette Asimov, 3/19/12.  "CSU proposes closing door on spring 2013 enrollment."

"Building my future, 1 class at a time."
"With a few exceptions, California State University will not accept students for the spring semester of 2013, and will reduce its overall enrollment for next year by 25,000, officials said Monday.  In addition, all students applying for fall admission in the 2012-13 academic year will be wait-listed until the outcome of the November election is known. The uncertainty of the voter response to a tax increase measure on the November ballot forced the university to cut its budget now, said Robert Turnage, CSU's budget czar. The measure's failure would result in a probable $200 million cut to CSU, he said.

With fall tuition rising to $7,017, Turnage said the decision was made to cut spring enrollment. "It's pretty clear that enthusiasm for fee increases is pretty much not there," he said. Instead, CSU will cancel spring 2013 enrollment. That will close the door on about 16,000 students who typically transfer to CSU each spring.

About 500 students participating in a special transfer program will be permitted to enroll next spring in only a handful of campuses including San Francisco, Cal State East Bay, Sonoma, Channel Islands, Chico, Fullerton and Santa Barbara.  In all, CSU's enrollment of about 417,000 will drop to about 392,000, Turnage said. If a tax measure is placed on the ballot and fails, that would trigger a new round of cuts, including $200 million to CSU, Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed. That could change depending on the state budget for 2012-13 that the Legislature ultimately approves.
But that decision won't be made until next summer. And, Turnage said, it isn't likely to contain much good news for the 23-campus university system that already been cut by $750 million this fiscal year. Turnage said CSU is currently struggling to close a half-billion budget gap."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sewer rate increase - "choice to protest"

  Pacifica Tribune, Letters-to-the-editor, 3/27/12.  "Sewer rate increase" by Joy Hitzeman

"Editor: I just opened the notice from the City of Pacifica regarding a proposed sewer increase. A rate hearing is scheduled for May 14 at 7 p.m. at 2212 Beach Blvd. 
Impossible, but "pigs can fly"

Like most people, I have a very busy life so most of the time I simply ignore those notices or throw them out. This time I actually read it. I found one sentence particularly interesting: "If written protests against the proposed charges are presented by a majority of owners of parcels subject to the charges, the City Council will not impose the proposed charges."

The chances of that happening are slim to none. Most people will not read the notice and if they do, will not take the time to write a letter. It would be better if they would simply go along with the desire of the majority of parcel owners who actually show up at the May 14 Public Hearing. But the way the system is set up pretty much guarantees the rate increase. I just wanted to alert those who read the Tribune that we do have a voice in this matter. I am not advocating for or against the rate increase, but simply that we do have a choice."

Reference  - California property tax law: What is proposition 218?. City of Pacifica Council Agenda Summary Report, 3/12/12, Item 12, pages 1-13.. "Pacifica could spend $50 million overhauling its wastewater system", article.  Pacifica Patch/Camden Swita, 4/21/11.  

Posted by Kathy Meeh

The ticket to Pacifica's prosperity - finally

Over the past year, Pacifica has proven we can successfully enter contests. Why not this one?  Win, all debt removed and we can happily live in the oblivious "green" zone for the next 10 years.   

From The Borowitz Report, 3/30/12, "Greece Buys Mega Millions Ticket, Prime Minster Travels to Convenience Store in Indiana." 

Parthenon or Pacifica City Hall?

"In a move that raised many eyebrows among financial ministers across the Eurozone, the nation of Greece today purchased a Mega Millions lottery ticket in the hopes of winning a jackpot topping $540 million.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos made the extraordinary purchase himself, traveling to a convenience story in Zionsville, Indiana where he briefly chatted with the Hoosier Lottery’s Mega Millions mascot.

While the odds of winning the jackpot currently stand at 1 in 176 million, experts say that the odds of Greece solving its financial problems on its own are approximately 1 in 975 zillion.

The Greek Prime Minister acknowledged that buying a Mega Millions ticket might appear to be a desperate move to the outside world, but added, “At this point it was either that or sell the Parthenon to Mark Zuckerberg.”

Asked why he purchased only one lottery ticket, Mr. Papademos said, “That’s all we had money for, and even that we had to borrow from Germany.”
Posted by Kathy Meeh

Planning Commission meeting, Monday April 2, 2012

You are welcome to attend the meeting in person, 2212 Beach Boulevard, 2nd floor.  Or, view on local channel 26, also live feed internet  The meeting begin
s at 7pm.

Planning Commission Agenda, 4/2/12, pages 1-6.  Administrative - Designation of liaison to city council meeting of April 9, 2012

Consideration Items
Item 1.  3rd extension of a construction permit.  16,133 sq. ft. lot, Vallemar, Hillside Preservation district permit:   DB Construction, Bed and Breakfast Inn, 130 Dardenelle, (APN 018-113-0660). Recommend approve. 
 Pedro Point point cliff   

Item 2.  Adopt the the following resolution to be sent to city council, allowing right-of-way access through an unimproved area (approximately  3,695 square feet) vacant lot at the end of Olympian Way, and "portions of Pompeiian Way northeast end previously abandoned." Allow roads and trails, but no expansion (building), CEQA status is exempt.  Google map.
"A resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of Pacifica Certifying that the proposed summary vacation of portions of Olympian Way and Pompeiian Way right of way conform to the General Plan."

Commission Items
Item 3.  Discussion of staff data from selected cities regarding project extension requests 3/19/12 packet.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Official Sanchez Dog Park opens Friday, March 30, 2012

Pacifica Tribune, 3/27/12. "Official opening of Sanchez Dog Park Friday, March 30, 2012." 

"On March 30, Friday afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m., folks are invited to celebrate the official opening of the Sanchez Dog Park (located on the east side of the Pacifica Center for the Arts, 1220 Linda Mar Blvd.), complete with a ribbon cutting, prizes and lots of dog fun. Construction on the park, which began in December 2011, finished earlier this month.

"Oh yeah, I'm alpha, ur' better back down now."
The Pacifica Organization of Canine Helpers (POOCH) presented the concept of a dog park at the Pacifica Center for the Arts site to the Parks, Beaches and Recreation (PB&R) Commission at a study session back in October of 2008. Since then, there have been several PB&R Commission study sessions and meetings, City Council meetings, an environmental study, and final approvals from Council. Pacifica's Department of Public Works constructed the bio-retention swale and were able to ready the park for a "soft" opening March 13.

The "soft" opening quickly turned into a "wet" opening, thanks to our rainiest week of the year. However, some brave owners and their four-footed friends still made their way out to the half-acre park, and even more chose to come the following week when conditions had improved. In spite of the weather, POOCH volunteers can be seen several hours per day at the site, letting their dogs romp while helping to educate park users on how to fully enjoy the park. These docents have been interacting with park users, passing out brochures with park "rules and etiquette" and working to help foster a culture of respect for the neighbors and tenants, as well as users - generally helping everyone enjoy the park. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer docent is encouraged to contact POOCH at  For more information on the Sanchez Dog Park or its grand opening, contact the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Department at 650-738-7381 ("

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Linda Mar Beach - no public parking fees

 Pacifica Tribune/Jane Northrop, 3/27/12. "City withdraws application for paid beach parking from Coastal Commission"

"Coastal Commission staff required new conditions the city finds onerous on the application for Linda Mar State Beach parking.  As a result, the application to charge for parking at the beach has been dropped by the city. 

And the winner is...
City staff has worked since 2007 on seeking approval of paid parking at the beach. The issue was finally placed on a Dec. 2011 Coastal Commission agenda. A few days before the meeting, Coastal Commission staff prepared a report that required staff monitor streets within a half mile of the beach monthly during winter and weekly during summer, provide 30-minute free spaces in the parking lot and end the parking permitting in three year's time, requiring another Coastal Commission review at that time.

City staff met with the Coastal Commission staff and proposed alternative solutions to the street monitoring every other month, and within 1,500 feet from the beach. Staff told Coastal Commission staff the free parking spaces would be difficult to enforce. Staff also requested the Coastal Commission agree to a longer duration for the permit, as the parking machines have a lifespan of five years and cost $40,000.

Coastal Commission staff responded that it would impose all the original conditions except agreed to an adjustment for the neighborhood monitoring. Coastal Commission also informed the city it was going to restrict the city's ability to close the parking lots in the evening. Currently, the lots are closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
In addition, the city received an enforcement letter from the Coastal Commission and is taking steps to comply with it. On March 7, the Coastal Commission's Jo Ginsberg, enforcement analyst, sent an enforcement letter to the city's project coordinator Lizzy Claycomb informing her the Coastal Commission believes the city is in violation of a coastal act by closing the beach at night, and by putting up a chain and signs indicating the beach is closed. That development would have required a permit, the letter said.
The city spends $160,000 on beach maintenance, restroom maintenance, water, rangers and habitat protection every year and has pinned its hopes in recovering that on the paid parking. City staff expected to generate $300,000 on the paid parking. "Without paid parking, we will likely not be able to increase those services to include items such as greater enforcement of leash laws and monitoring of the snowy plover protections," the city staff report reads.

While members of the public spoke both for and against charging for beach parking at Monday's meeting, the city council members expressed their frustration about working this through with the Coastal Commission.

There are two years left on the city's contract with the state to operate Linda Mar State Beach. If the city wants to pursue another way to run the beach, the state requires one year's notice.  When asked if he thought the issues were going to be resolved with the Coastal Commission, City Manager Steve Rhodes said he was not optimistic until he had a chance to meet with the director instead of staff members. "We've improved the beach so much. We've been working for more than six years now on parking and the Coastal Commission has put in road blocks," said Council Member Mary Ann Nihart.
"We at least need to close the bathrooms at night. We have jumped through every hoop. They have known we closed the beach at night for the last five years," Mayor Pete DeJarnatt said."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

City council should make smart, informed decisions

Pacifica Tribune/Guest Columnist, 3/27/12.  The importance of an informed decision" by Paul Slavin

People are fed up, but no tax unless real solutions.
"Reading Dave Mercurio's Letter to the Editor in last week's Tribune reminded me again how poisonous the political atmosphere can get around here. Mr. Mercurio castigates councilmembers Len Stone and Mary Ann Nihart for not supporting an early city-wide ballot measure for a 1/2 percent sales-tax increase, as suggested by the Financing City Services Task Force. It is assumed this money would help bankroll our Police Department, although the Task Force has cautioned that this measure alone would not guarantee the department's survival. Nevertheless, Mr. Mercurio views Stone and Nihart's decision as "shameful, careless and irresponsible." I think he's wrong on every point.

First of all, it is clearly the responsibility of the City Council to explore and evaluate every possible budgetary saving. Our city is going broke; we've cut back to the bone at Public Works and everywhere else, with more cuts looming, and we're passing the hat for the Resource Center.  I think it would be careless and irresponsible not to even look at outsourcing our Police. To do that intelligently we have to have the relevant figures from the County Sheriff, which we should shortly receive. (Why we don't already have these numbers is another question.) This delay has moved the sales-tax issue beyond the deadline required for the June ballot.

Once we have the Sheriff's proposal in hand, we can compare both departments, apples to apples, and make a better, more informed decision. This is not to imply by any means that we should automatically go with the less costly option. There are many benefits in having our own local force, potential advantages in service levels, accountability, response time, and local knowledge, and these must be carefully considered. But, contrary to Mr. Mercurio, there is a price that's put on safety, a very substantial price, including both present salaries and future pensions and benefits. Len Stone quite rightly feels obligated to determine the difference in cost, in actual tax-payer's dollars, between the two departments. Simple due diligence.

Mr. Mercurio, evidently having already made up his mind, feels we should have gone ahead with the ballot anyway, and that Stone and Nihart's actions "took away our say in the matter". But this is going to be an extremely important decision, with long-range consequences, and it only seems prudent to have all the pertinent information available to the electorate BEFORE they have their say.  The fact that Len Stone was supported by the Pacifica Police in the last election is entirely beside the point. He was elected to represent the whole community, all of us, and that appears to be exactly what he is doing, and in very difficult circumstances. Sounds like almost the opposite of "shameful" to me. He may have lost Mr. Mercurio's vote, but his thoughtful, business-like, even-handed approach has won him many others.

I also agree with Mary Ann Nihart's contention that, at this time, a public vote on the sales-tax would be a very chancy affair. Pacifica voters have been very reluctant lately to pass any additional revenues for a Council that has presided over years of financial failure. The last decade has been a litany of stalled development, lost opportunities, a never-ending debate over Hwy. 1 improvements, the bio-diesel fiasco, a neglected sewer system, costly city lawsuits, crumbling infrastructure, and a constantly shrinking bank account. Although the present recall effort seems like an impulsive, half-baked idea to me, I can easily understand the anger and frustration that motivates it. People are fed up. A tax-raising ballot measure right now wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell.
Mr. Mercurio blithely states that, "If the ballot measure was allowed to go through and it didn't pass, then so be it." But an important issue like this, once defeated, would be extremely difficult to revive at a later date, and our financial future might well depend on its' passage. Better here to be more cautious than carefree.

We are all aware of the geographical limits of Pacifica; we have a scarcity of open, stable, buildable land, a decentralized pattern of development, minimum road access, and, consequently, a limited tax-base. That's why it's so important to maximize every opportunity, scrutinize every expenditure, and not make any mistakes. If Mary Ann Nihart and Len Stone are given a chance, and some help, they could form the nucleus of a Council marked by fiscal responsibility and a serious, pragmatic approach to solving our many problems. That could revive public confidence to the point where it might just be possible to raise the sales-tax a bit."

Reference:  Dave Mercurio's  Letter to-the-editor, first Letter printed, Pacifica Tribune, 3/20/12.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Beach Boulevard Project moves forward with an EIR

Pacifica Tribune/Jane Northrop, 3/27/12.  "City Council amends contract with environmental consultant to continue work on Beach Blvd. Project."

"The city of Pacifica is taking the lead on clearing environmental hurdles for a proposed development on Beach Blvd. to replace the old wastewater treatment site and City Council Chambers.

The view and the challenge
The proposed idea for a development that came out of a study session last year would include a boutique hotel, restaurant, 84 residential units, underground parking and a library on the northwest portion. The city is facilitating all the environmental studies so a potential developer can come in and make a proposal with a lot of the preliminary studies out of the way.

The neighborhood
To this end, City Council unanimously approved an amendment to its ongoing contract with Leland Consulting Group, an environmental consultant. The amendment contains funding for the development of a revised site plan and preliminary data to help establish current property values for the Beach Blvd. site. The work is expected to be finished by the end of the year. City Council also authorized the city manager to enter into a contract with RBF Consultants to develop an environmental impact report for this site. That will be brought back to council at another time.

'I'm glad we are moving forward," said Mayor Pro Tem Len Stone. Mayor Pete De Jarnatt said he could potentially see a developer balk at the idea of having the city impose a condition that a library be built there, but he thinks it won't be a problem. "I don't think there is a huge risk. We've had very little interest in that site for a long time," he said."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Funding new public rail transportation in the Bay Area

San Francisco Chronicle/Philip Matier, Andrew Ross, Columnists, 3/26/12.  "$1.5 billion Caltrain deal packs some big extras." 

SF Transbay Terminal will connect to a 1.2 mile tunnel
That just-announced pact to plow $1.5 billion in high-speed rail money into electrifying Caltrain comes with some mighty major side deals - including a pledge by Bay Area leaders to build a 1.2-mile tunnel through downtown San Francisco to connect the line to the new Transbay Terminal.

In the spirit of providing something for everybody, local transportation officials also agreed to go after another $1 billion in federal funds to complete the BART extension to San Jose. That's on top of the $900 million the feds just committed to get BART halfway there from Fremont. "This is a really big deal - we're resolving a lot of regional conflicts," said Adam Alberti, spokesman for the Transbay Joint Powers Authority.  True, but the plan also locks up much of the region's federal mass transit spending for years to come - virtually shutting out any other grandiose schemes, like extending BART into Livermore.

The new plan, however, does buy San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee some political cover. Under a long-standing agreement, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are on the hook for $60 million apiece to help electrify the Peninsula commuter rail system. San Francisco, however, hasn't figured out how to fund its full share. Now, at least, the mayor can point to a multipronged agreement that could help spur a $2.2 billion federal windfall for the city's attempt to build its downtown rail tunnel. Tony Winnicker, a spokesman for the mayor, said only that "it's a big win for the region - and a giant boost to eventually bringing high-speed rail to a downtown station."  Read more.

ReferenceCA High-Speed Rail Authority.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Los Gatos city council meeting 3/19/12 - Park, sports and dogs

Los Gatos Weekly Times/Judy Peterson, 3/26/12. "Parks for sports, dogs top discussion items at town council meeting."
"Yo tengo dos perros, no gatos!"

"From dogs to sports, it was all about parks when the Los Gatos Town Council met on March 19. The council awarded the contract for construction of the Creekside Sports Park, 930 University Ave., to Interstate Grading and Paving of South San Francisco. The contract is for $1,975,497. The park will have one large field that will accommodate multiple sports, including soccer and lacrosse.

Construction will begin next month, with the sports park expected to be ready for action by October.  Even sooner than that the town expects to have a pilot program in place that would allow dogs to run off-leash in some parks during certain times of the day. Where and when the off-leash activities would be allowed remains to be seen, but Bachman, Live Oak and La Rinconada parks are at the top of the list.

Several dozen residents who attended the meeting support letting dogs run free, including Bachman Park neighbor Macey Kalin, who has a young child, another on the way and a dog that she says is difficult to walk given her circumstances. "The group of us that meets down there is really responsible," Kalin said. "I think it's great for the dogs and the community."

Vice Mayor Barbara Spector, who owns a dog, pointed out that people who let their dogs run off-leash today are violating the law. "That makes it uncomfortable for those people who have to enforce the law," Spector said. She pointed to San Carlos as a city that has dealt with the same issue. "San Carlos had the exact same situation we do," Spector said. "They were ticketing their residents. Their residents were breaking the law, and so San Carlos has a pilot program that is up and running, and so far it is successful."  But there are many issues that need to be resolved before a pilot program can be started in Los Gatos, including determining who's liable if an off-leash dog attacks another dog or a person.same issue. 

"I would like to have a little attention placed on licensing or permitting," Bachman Park neighbor Beth Jendricks said. "I do see a potential issue that, if it isn't controlled in some way, we'll have a lot of people coming into a small park. I'd be concerned if people are getting in their cars and driving in from other cities." Licensing and other issues are expected to be worked out in a series of community meetings that will be held beginning next month. Councilman Joe Pirzynski said he wants all the controversies vetted before a detailed plan is brought back to the council in June. "The folks who use the parks who are not dog owners may have something to say," Pirzynski said. "We're going to have to look very carefully at how restrictive we think we can be."

Pirzynski, who is a dog owner, was bitten by an out-of-control dog at a Music in the Park concert last summer. Councilwoman Diane McNutt's dog was slightly injured in an attack last year at the off-leash dog park in Campbell. Los Gatos helped pay for that park since there are no off-leash parks in town. And just a few weeks ago Live Oak Manor resident Michelle Busi said her husband and French bulldog were attacked by a pit bull when its owner lost control of it. "It's every dog owner's nightmare," Busi said. Fortunately, there were no injuries. Off-leash supporter Jonathan Knowles summed up the situation by saying, "People are doing it now, and they're going to continue to do it. So let's put some rules around it and act responsibly."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Beware of coyotes if walking your dog at Mussel Rock Park

Coyotes live with us on our hills, in our neighborhoods, and may visit our yards. 

......"Not picky,  I'll eat pets, ...... 
small children and you."
Pacifica Tribune, Letters-to-the-Editor, 3/20/12. "Coyotes kill dog" by Helen Nicely 
This is the second time this March that a poodle has been attacked by coyotes."On Saturday, March 10, at 5p.m., a 15-pound dog was seized, stunned and dragged away by two full-size coyotes at Mussel Rock Park. The owner of the poodle was unable to find his pet; he is certain his dog was killed by the attack. The attack occurred during daylight on the hilly path leading to the paragliders' airfield.

The area of the attack was near rabbit warrens, and it is thought that the dog may have looked like a rabbit in size and color. The Peninsula Humane Society mentioned a similar incident in which a small poodle was attacked by coyotes, but was successfully retrieved.
Mussel Rock, north Pacifica/Daly City

The low rainfall this winter has brought the rather unusual sighting in February of a pack of 5 coyotes out together at 4 p.m. around the same site, close to the swamp where they drink water below the copse of willow trees, in full view of hikers, paragliders and pet dogs. Dog owners are urged to keep their dogs in view all the time while at Mussel Rock near to the gate, paths and swamp area." 

Reference:- Coyotes in our San Mateo Neighborhoods, .Coyotes in  San Mateo County Park Lands.  Note:  Helen Nicely also posted the article on  Pacifica Patch, 3/12/12. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Milpitas citizens have found reasons to recall 2 city council members

Milpitas Post/Ian Bauer, 3/21/12. "Recall group formally notifies council members." 

"Milpitas City Councilmembers Armando Gomez and Althea Polanski received formal notices of an effort to recall them via certified mail Friday.  "The enclosed form is your official notification of our intent to circulate a petition to place a recall measure on the Nov. 6 election ballot," the March 15 notification reads, sent by the recall group's spokersperson, Linda Windisch. "You have seven calendar days to submit your answer." 

Throughout her 28 years as an elected official on the Board of Education and city council, Polanski said she had never seen a council recall in Milpitas. "I'm disappointed the people started a recall process; I don't understand the real reason," Polanski said. "It's kind of a surprise and hurtful. As the process goes forward I will be working very hard to uphold my reputation and my dignity. I think this is very politically motivated." Polanski said she would whole-heartedly fight any attempts to recall her from the council."This committed, dedicated public servant is not willing to sit back and take it," she said.

During the city council's March 6 meeting, Linda Windisch, resident and wife of former Milpitas City Council candidate Robert Windisch, told Polanski she did not like her support for medical marijuana dispensaries, though none operates or has been approved in the city.  Dan Manassau, a resident and former member of the Milpitas Citizens Budget Task Force, spoke later and said he had once voted to elect Gomez but  "Your ongoing pursuit of marijuana shops is but one example," Manassau said.added since then the councilman has "worked against the best interests of the residents of our city for far too long."

In January, the city council voted 5-0 to direct city staff to continue studying regulating medical marijuana dispensaries, prior to returning to the council with a full report on the subject next month. Though her group's grievances also relate to the council passing and then rescinding a campaign disclosure ordinance aimed at political consultants, and a public records lawsuit brought by Councilwoman Debbie Giordano that the city lost in court, Windisch said she was most upset about the potential for medical marijuana clinics coming to Milpitas."

"To recall somebody for trying to study the issue is totally unfounded and targeted," Gomez countered Friday. "It makes you wonder what the recall is really about ... it's a complete waste of money."  Gomez said he believes the recall effort likely relates to a prior council vote to stop developers from buying vacant buildings in Milpitas' industrial areas and converting them to housing. Windisch said if the 27 signatures gathered for the notice to circulate a recall petition are verified by the Milpitas City Clerk's Office, they will subsequently need to collect approximately 5,000 signatures from registered voters here. Those signatures will have to be submitted by late July.  Gomez said the city, not the recall group, will have to pay for the recall election if it advances. The exact cost is not yet known."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Monday, March 26, 2012

Our new council member is...

Ginny Jaquith was selected as Jim Vreeland's replacement, serving through the November election.

Posted by Steve Sinai

Reminder - City Coucil meeting tonight, March 26, 2012

Meeting begins at 7pm, or shortly there following. Link to article and agenda.

Item 13, agenda update 3/26/12, 1:57pm:  Letters of Interest for the vacant city council seat were received from the following applicants: 1)  Gil Anda, 2)  Bruce Banco, 3) Karen Ervin, 4) Cal Hinton, 5) Ginny Jaquith, 6) William "Leo" Leon, 7) Gary Mondfrans, 8) Victor Spano, 9) Susan B. Vellone.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bankruptcy may not be a bad thing

Fish. Why worry, our city is already broke?
Pacifica Tribune, Letters-to-the-Editor, 3/20/12,  
"Bankruptcy" by Todd McCune Bray

"Editor: A declaration of bankruptcy by Pacifica may not be a bad thing. I'm researching what it may mean for our town, mechanically, to go through a Chapter 9 bankruptcy but given our current financial circumstances choosing a Chapter 9 bankruptcy maybe a really smart thing to do.

While there are issues of resident and business flight, in this economy that is doubtful. The most interesting aspects of a Chapter 9 bankruptcy are court appointed time to restructure debt and commitments to things like our pension liabilities coupled with the protection of the federal government against seizure of city owned assets from creditors.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Recall - poor city management errors

"..what the heck happened." to the city?
"Editor, as I watch Pacifica's inability to prevent a crumbling infrastructure, the result of poor city resources management over years with failed decisions on fire tax, sales tax to cover for management errors, I can see that a recall notice would come forth. In private industry people would be replaced with new management. 

Pacifica has the highest garbage rates and had to be sued on proper notification of rate increases that were already built into the garbage contract or city would default! With a $48 school tax and huge annual sewer tax increase that will cost people plenty voters will have to save on city costs. Pacifica police now are up for further sacrifice and current officers would probably have better job security with the sheriff's department.

As I enjoy walking by the pier, I look at the valuable old sewer plant and wonder what the heck happened; so no wonder the city is hurting. It might be too late to get a game change."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Response to Notice of Intent to Recall - Sue Digre

I say "Our environment is our economy"
"As a longtime Pacifican and veteran Councilmember, I am keenly aware of the passionate nature of politics in Pacifica.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  Pacificans care deeply and sometimes very personally about the issues. No one is going to be happy with every Council vote.  Some may even be unhappy with the outcome of measures put to a public vote, but this is our form of government.

The complaints made by the recall proponents are vaguer, ambiguous, and lack specifics.  It seem to me that these complaints are not of an individual nature.  Rather they may concern actions and decisions by several City Councils on a number of very complex issues.  The foundatin for a Council decision includes study, open discussion and public input.

I take my oath of office very seriously.  I have always carried out my duties with due diligence and great care.  I have never, nor would I ever, violate my oath of office or betray the voter's trust.  I am proud of our city and optimistic about our ability to create a vibrant Pacifica."

Sue Digre

Submitted by Therese Dyer

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Response to Notice of Intent to Recall - Pete De Jarnatt

"I believe the allegations made against me are vague, very difficult to understand and completely baseless.  I have always taken my duties on the city council very seriously.  I feel my decisions as a councilmember have consistently been in the best interest of the community.
 15 1/2 years, the Pacific ocean is our economy.
I greatly appreciate the Pacifica voters' support and confidence in me as demonstrated by electing me to four consecutive terms from the first time I ran in 1996.  Although I have found this position to be interesting as well as extremely challenging I have made it clear that this will be my last term.

I am very sad that what I consider to be a small group of malcontents have resorted to this divisive strategy at a time when we should be working together for the good of Pacifica.

I will continue to honor my commitment to preserve our city's environment, support a local police force to protect our families, neighborhoods and businesses and support reasonable growth for Pacifica.

Its has been a honor to serve the city of Pacifica for the last 15 1/2 years."

Pete De Jarnatt

Submitted by Therese Dyer

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Friday, March 23, 2012

Planning Commissioners Brown Act violation, remedial action taken

"In a letter to a resident who accused planning commissioners of violating public meeting law in September, an assistant district attorney said that the law was broken but remedial action already taken was satisfactory," (Carmden Swita).  

 Pacifica Patch/Carmden Swita, 3/23/12. "Assistant D.A. says Planning Commissioners broke the law." 
"Knowingly caused a Brown Act violation."
The assistant district attorney tasked with judging whether Pacifica Planning Commissioners violated public meeting law last year announced today he was closing his case, and stated that the law was broken. At a Sept. 19, 2011 meeting, the commission discussed at length and voted on issues pertaining to Caltrans' plan to widen Highway 1 that were not on the meeting's agenda.

"It was within this context that the Commissioners' actions violated provisions of Brown Act," wrote Assistant District Attorney Al Serrato in a letter to Mark Stechbart, one of two residents who filed a complaint with the D.A.'s office following the meeting in September. Stechbart and Jim Wagner, the second resident to file a complaint, claimed that commissioners knowingly violated the law in order to make a jab at Catrans over its plan to widen the highway, a controversial topic in itself.

Some members of the public seemed to believe that no violation had occurred, and voiced their opinions in the comment threads of Pacifica Patch's coverage of the issue. The Planning Commission officially responded to the allegations, however, when it voided all votes and testimony made outside the law at the meeting. The commission also took a one-time city training on public meeting law to better educate itself about what is legal and what is not at a meeting.

These actions, Serrato said, were satisfactory in correcting the violations and demonstrated good-faith effort to abide by the law. "In taking these steps, the Commissioners corrected the violations and demonstrated a genuine commitment to following open‐meeting laws," he wrote. "As the remedial purposes of the Brown Act have thereby been satisfied, no further action by my office is necessary."
Stechbart, who sent a letter to the Pacifica City Council today asking it to recognize the assistant district attorney's letter at its March 26 meeting, believes that an apology from Planning Commissioner Leo Leon is in order, as Leon played the most active role in Sept. 19's discussion of the highway widening plan. "Since Mr. Leon had such an active role, he certainly owes Pacifica voters an acknowledgment he was wrong and an apology," Stechbart wrote to the council."  Read more, the Assistant Attorney's letter to Mark Stechbart.

Submitted at the same time by Jim Alex, and by Bob Hutchinson 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Don't fergit: Rotary/Chamber of Commerce Mixer, Friday, March 23, 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Hi all,

Tomorrow night the Rotary Club of Pacifica is hosting a joint mixer with the Chamber of Commerce.

The purpose of this event is to promote local businesses and meet their owners.

I have additionally invited the Best of Pacifica recipients.
This is an informal get together that was very successful, well attended, and fun a few months ago
at Grape in the Fog.

It will be located downstairs from the MoonRaker (The Cove) 6:30-9:30pm
No Host Bar   Scooby Snacks   Free admission to the Public    Free raffle for prizes

Please attend if you can, invite friends, and have a great time!
If you are a businesss owner, please bring business cards/info for all.

Madam Prez of Rotary
Susan Vellone

Thursday, March 22, 2012

City council appointee interviews - what interviews?

Pacifica Tribune/Jane Northrop, 3/20/12."Chamber of Commerce board suggests questions for City Council appointee interviews." 

"Improve the local economy?"
"During its last meeting, City Council invited interested residents to apply for the vacancy created by the resignation of Jim Vreeland. Letters of interest with any supporting documentation may be submitted to the City Clerk's office by noon on Friday. The council members are expected to discuss who to appoint during its next meeting on Monday. 

Whomever they appoint, the new council member will serve a term that lasts only until November, when the seat will go up for public election. The council members decided they did not want to conduct face-to-face interviews of the candidates. They have not prepared a list of questions, said Mayor Pete DeJarnatt.

"We are not interviewing," he said. "We are just asking for people to submit their names and apply. There is no form. It can contain a resume or not. We have a pretty good idea of who will apply and I expect they will write anything they think is relevant. The only way we could interview would be public and I don't see that as being helpful to the process. I don't want people to have to campaign to us.

At the last council meeting, I didn't hear anyone interested in interviewing candidates, but that's not to say it wouldn't happen. I don't want to ask specific questions. I don't think that's appropriate. I don't want to have people commit themselves to specific answers to questions. It's not a job that works that way. It's a very difficult job. This is untraveled territory. We only want to appoint someone until November. I feel comfortable with the voters electing someone then." 

Nevertheless, the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce board did prepare a list of questions they hope would be used to vet candidates through a question and answer process printed in the Pacifica Tribune, said Jim Wagner, Chamber board member. Besides listing why the candidate is suited for council, civic and elected involvement and supporters, those questions are:
•What is you position on the Caltrans Route 1 improvement project?
•Do you support an economic analysis of all general plan and zoning decisions so future economic impact to city revenue and be evaluated?
•What is your position on the Jefferson Union High School District's $48 parcel tax proposal on the June ballot?
•What are your thoughts on contracting with the sheriff's department for police services?
•What would you do to transform Palmetto Ave into our Main Street?
*How would you work with our business community to improve our local economy?"

Addendum, what was left-out of the Pacifica Tribune article: 
1.  "Issues questions" (above):  "Closing statement, 200 words."
2.  "Council appointment questionnaire":  1) Why do you think you would make a good interim council member. 2) Past civic or elected involvement. 3) Supporters.

The questions were accompanied by an action statement:  "The Pacifica Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors feel it is important to ask these important questions of prospective appointees. The next 9 months that this term will run will present important and difficult challenges to whomever this council chooses to fill Mr. Vreeland's seat. The issues addressed in these questions are of particular importance the our chamber members and prospective appointees need to recognize that our business community has a vested interest in our towns fiscal health. We will send each applicant this list of questions and ask that they return their answers in writing to the Tribune office by noon on Monday March 26th."  Jim Wagner, Chair Pacifica Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee.

Submitted by Jim Wagner 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

California law prohibits city bankruptcy with exceptions

Where did the money go?

Cal Watchdog/Wayne Lusvardi, 3/2/12.  "Will Stockton Trigger Bankruptcy Run?"

"Stockton … Hercules … Lincoln … Milpitas.  The list of cities has grown to four in the span of one week.  These are all cities in California recently threatened with budgetary insolvency — where expenses exceed revenues.  All have started to explore filing bankruptcy or drastically reducing their budgets and effectively doing the same, as would happen in a bankruptcy court.

AB 506, by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, became law in 2011 to prevent or delay just such a run of bankruptcy filings.  The California Legislature does not want a run of cities filing bankruptcy because the state budget continues to run a $20 billion annual deficit and is unable to bail out insolvent cities. 

AB 506 prohibits a municipal government from filing a federal bankruptcy unless it either:  1.  Undegoes a neutral evaluation conducted by a third party and involving all interested parties, including unions and creditors. This applies to the cities of Stockton, Hercules and Lincoln; or  2.  Declares a “fiscal emergency” that threatens the health, safety or well-being or residents without bankruptcy protections. This applies to the city of Milpitas.

The city of Stockton has initiated the mandated neutral evaluation process preparatory to filing bankruptcy.   The city of Milpitas has declared a “fiscal emergency,” preparatory to raising taxes or filing bankruptcy if a tax ballot initiative fails.  The cities of Hercules and Lincoln have drastically reduced their budgets, as they would be forced to do by a bankruptcy judge.   But they are all in the same “fiscal” boat with budget deficits.

The Start of the Great California Muni Bankruptcy Run?

Stockton Hercules Lincoln Milpitas
Population 290,000 26,000 43,248 66,790
Median Household Income $47,946 $87,869 $60,883 $92,694
Budget Deficit $20 – $38 mil. $1 mil. $2 mil. $5.2 mil.
Percent Budget for Salaries & Benefits 82% 51%60% 1 yr. ago 83% 84%
Percent Median Home Value Decline 65% 62% 50% 33%
Deficit Reduction Strategy Determine bankruptcy feasibility Reduce 37% of employees Consultant hired to reduce costs Declare fiscal emergency prior to poll to raise taxes or file bankruptcy
Deficit Drivers:
  1. Lost $2.3 mil. in property taxes;
  2. Retiree costs grew from $8.5 mil. to $16.8 mil. in 3 years
$1.85 mil. bailout of Redevopment Agency created deficit New $16 mil. library created deficit City had to bail out Redevelopment Agency for $39 mil.

Each city has its own unique story as to how they ended up with an insolvent budget."   Read more.

Broad archived continued reading  Northern CA Bankruptcy Lawyer Blog, 3/7/12.

Submitted by Jim Alex

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Young Pacifica woman stabs cabbie, and takes his cab

Anyone know this young woman?  This story is unbelievable, but true and its on cab video. 

San Mateo Daily Journal/Staff, 3/21/12.  "Attempted murder charges for woman accused of stabbing cabbie."

"A 21-year-old Pacifica woman accused of stabbing a cab driver in the neck and making off with his vehicle last Friday is facing attempted murder, assault and carjacking charges. Amanda Jenille Aldeguer returns to court March 27 to enter a plea and identify her court-appointed attorney.

Amanda Jenille Aldeguer
Pacifica police arrested Aldeguer after her mother called them to report an injury to her hand and they connected it to an earlier stabbing and carjacking report. Officers responded to that call at approximately 5:50 p.m. in the area of West Manor Drive and Esplanade Avenue.

They found a bleeding man, a driver for Serra Yellow Cab, who said a woman he picked up at Serramonte Center pulled out a knife during the trip to Pacifica and stabbed him in the neck. As he resisted, she continued to stab, he said.

After the driver stopped the car and fled, the woman later identified as Aldeguer got into the front seat and drove away. Police found the car near a Pacifica park with a knife inside. The car’s video camera recorded the attack, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Aldeguer was apprehended in South San Francisco.She remains in custody in lieu of $500,000 bail and has no prior adult criminal history in San Mateo County, according to court records."

Submitted by Jim Alex

Posted by Kathy Meeh

City council meeting, Monday, March 26, 2012

Attend in person, 2212 Beach Boulevard, 2nd floor.  Or, view on local channel 26, also live feed internet  The meeting begins at 7pm (but usually starts a few minutes late).   City Council Agenda, 3/26/12, pages 1-120, . Item 4, amendment1, 1-6 pages, . Item 13, Letters of Interest for vacant city council seats.

A.  Closed session (6:00 pm)
1)   Conference with Real Property Negotiator, price and payment:  APN 023-073-050 and 80, Dave Colt.
2)   Labor negotiations, conference with labor negotiator with Pacifica Police Officers Association, Police Supervisors Association, Police Management Teamsters local 350, Firefighters local 2400,  Teamsters local 856 Battalion Chiefs. 
3)   Conference with legal counsel-anticipated litigation, 1 case.

B.  Open session (7:00pm) - Call to order, salute to the flag, commission liaisons, closed session report if any. 
Todd Bray and the sign he made for last year's Earth Day
 Consent Calendar (pass through), pages 1-2.
1.   Approval of cash disbursements.
2.   Approval of Minutes (meeting of 3/12/12).
3.   Approval contract for  retirement of a Police canine, subsequent purchase from handler, cost $1.   
4.   General Plan traffic amendment #1, new C/CAG model, Dyett & Bhatia consultant. See amendment link above.
5.   Beach Boulevard project, 2nd amendment, phase III, Leland Consulting Group. 
6.   Approval of Mayor's response to Grand Jury Report, "The county, San Carlos and Cal Fire, a missed opportunity."
7.  Adopt an ordinance to fill city council member vacancies by appointment only until a Special Election can be held to elect a successor.  
Special presentation - Proclamation - Earth Day

Public Hearing
8.   Resolution to update the city park development fee, and establish a city parkland in-lieu fee (Quimby Act).
9.   Authorize the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Beach Boulevard redevelopment, given the recommended concept (boutique hotel, restaurant, 84 housing units, library, underground parking, and  subject to any legal changes, RBF Consultants.
10.  Update and direct staff to proceed with Linda Mar Beach paid parking and closing lot overnight.
11.  Approve and recruit an Economic Development intern position, and recruit a voluntary summer intern (recommendation from the Economic Development Committee).
12.  Extend Coastal Commission growth control ordinance #604 C. S.
13.  Consideration of, discussion,  and possible appointment to vacant city council seat. See Letters of Interest for vacancy link above. 
14.  Consideration of a city council member meeting attendance policy and resolution.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Support Pacifica Resource Center

PRC sign
Pacifica Resource Center
I received this petition and I think it's very important to sign and support the Resource Center, as the upcoming budget battle threatens their city funding, which is a miniscule $83,000 per year.  

Sign on-line petition here.

Its easy, just 1) add your name, 2) email address, 3) any comments, 4) "show my name or not", 5) click "sign now".  Done, unless you want to make a contribution on page 2. 

And, if you feel this is important, please forward this to your fellow Pacificans. Thank you!

Submitted by Lionel Emde

Posted by Kathy Meeh