Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pacifica's economic woes viewed by Elaine Larsen

Pacifica Tribune/Elaine Larsen, Editor and Publisher, 7/17/12.  "Let's connect the dots-- why Pacifica is not succeeding financially."

"I've been thinking about how our city is challenged to do better financially. Here are some top reasons that come to mind:

Building a balanced city economy
The only real income the city of Pacifica has known is property taxes, not commercial, and when the housing boom went bust, that income dried up.

The second city income was from sales of city property. Been there, done that. One shot deal. Nothing left to sell.

•Utility user's tax and fire assessment. Taxes are the ONLY thing the city can count on. Been there, done that. The average voter is tired of shoveling out more money.

Make it a beautiful by numbers picture
•Municipal employee contracts. Employees in Pacifica need to agree to some compromises. They've done so in the past. Good for them. But it's not "business as usual" in Pacifica, at least not right now. We all need to stick together and share the pain. Those of us in the private sector lost pensions years ago. And also any kind of 401K company match. Let's all be reasonable and work together so that all municipal employees keep their jobs.

•Development opportunity. Let's not fight every single thing that could generate income. Hey, City Council, this isn't a popularity contest. You need to vote for what's right for all of us, not just the guy next door to the development who doesn't want his view of the ocean obscured. Be leaders. There will ALWAYS be someone who asks you to vote no. Tell them NO. Do what's right. If you don't, I say we should vote you out.
•Quarry development. This is the most outrageous situation I've encountered. The Friends of Pacifica slate put a voter "overlay" on the property to ensure there wouldn't be too many houses. In short, they made sure that the public could always say "no" to any sort of development that involved houses. Even if there would be analysis and oversight beyond the public's knee-jerk reaction. That was a brilliant anti-development move because it's always easy to say "no" to housing before any hapless developer agrees to spend any sort of dime figuring out what can be built. Let's call a spade a spade: the notion that the quarry development was going to be the "crown jewel" of redevelopment was a serious lie that I repeated over and over as a young reporter. Well, it's a lie. Former Tribune Editor/Publisher Chris Hunter called it right: that once the city put the wastewater treatment plant on the site (which is still poorly functioning, I might add) that would guarantee there would never be development due to Fish and Wildlife involvement.

  That's a bite
•Pacifica has a lot of vacant storefront property controlled by land owners who expect too high a rent.

•Pacifica has a lot of vacant land controlled by out-of-town land owners and the land is full of weeds and the city of Pacifica abandoned its former weed-abatement program wherein the city paid someone to clean up the weeds and billed the land owners.

•Shopping centers are allowed to deteriorate and not adhere to a sign program and the city just turns a blind eye.

That's only a few of the reasons that I thought of. I'm just one person with one point of view after having lived and worked in Pacifica 25 years. I'd like to hear your feedback as would our readers as well.

Let us all know what you think and, just as importantly, what the city can do to improve our community's economy."

Note:  Editorial reprint in its entirety allowed courtesy of Elaine Larsen, Pacifica Tribune Editor and Publisher.

Posted by Kathy Meeh


Anonymous said...

Bravo, Elaine, Bravo.

Hutch said...

Very accurate commentary Elaine. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I like how Peter Loeb got all butt hurt in his letter to the editor in todays Trib.

Elaine you are first class. You even treated Loeb with respect.