Thursday, July 26, 2018

Save our homes and businesses

Jim Wagner and Mark Stechbart

To quote Mark Twain “No one’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” Or the Pacifica CityCouncil.
Let’s review the severe threat to homeowner value posed by the city’s sea level rise planning. It hits existing homes and businesses and all future development and remodeling.
The flood zone has not been clearly described to Pacifica homeowners and businesses. Everything west of Hwy 1 is exposed. In Linda Mar, everything west of an imaginary dotted line from Peralta Road to Fernandez Way is in the flood zone.
Managed retreat is in the sea level planning document. That means let the sea erosion chew east. Which properties are protected and which are unprotected? What neighborhoods will enjoy shoreline protection like seawalls and which will be unprotected? We don’t know because after months of talk, the members of the Council has not made a firm decision. Our suggestion is managed retreat must be rejected for the entire Pacifica coastline to protect our existing homes and businesses. Protecting homes must be the first priority.
Properties in the flood zone include at least several hundred homes; most of our hotels; Hwy 1; 80 percent of all Pacifica businesses; sewer, water and communications lines; schools; shopping centers. In short, the heart of Pacifica.
The City’s sea level planning incorporates a lot of California Coastal Commission language that is also under review but not fully disclosed to Pacifica homeowners. The Coastal Commission wants this: structures in the flood zone will need a bond or lien, paid for by the owner, to pay for the structure to be moved or demolished and the affected area restored at the applicant’s expense. The coastal commission will determine removal “triggers” and the date the order is given.
Will Pacifica become labeled the “Town Falling into the Sea”? The consequences and domino effect are clear. Home values will stall or drop. Buyers will be uncertain about buying a 30-year mortgage for a home under a sea level cloud. Mortgages will be tough to get if the property life is unknown.
Insurance will be hard to secure and expensive. Who wants to move to a town where the business district is eroding? When Hwy 1 is threatened, east side home values will suffer if buyers can’t commute out of town. When sea level rise threatens sewer and water lines, all homes and businesses in town, regardless of location, will face hundreds of millions in new taxes to move the pipes and facilities further east.
And here is the final insult to not having a clear rejection of managed retreat and a full commitment to shoreline protection: city finances take a huge hit and bond ratings drop.
Fifty percent of total city revenue for essential city services comes from property taxes. The math is simple—do anything to damage property value and city tax collections drop. Additionally, Moody’s, the bond rating company, has already warned coastal towns that if property values are not maintained from sea level rise, bonds ratings will drop. The City and school districts rely on property values to pay off their bonds. If property values are dropping or uncertain, bond costs increase and investors will hesitate to buy the bonds because the underlying ability to repay is questionable. No one in the City or school districts is talking about sea level issues damaging the fundamental economic health of Pacifica.
Our solution is for an informed citizenry to attend the next sea level rise meeting Saturday, Aug. 11, noon, in the community center. Ask, even demand, that City Council and anyone running for Council this November take a full-throated pledge to reject managed retreat and pledge to support shoreline protection measures. Our homes and businesses require the certainty of a clear Council policy. No reason to study managed retreat when that policy will cut the heart out of Pacifica. Managed retreat—a bad idea we can’t afford.
(Jim Wagner and Mark Stechbart are longterm Pacifica residents active in the Pacifica Business and Community PAC supporting forward looking solutions to Pacifica issues.)

Submitted by Jim Wagner


Larry said...

Great op-ed. Lays out the shadows and mirrors surrounding this whole debate. The whole "ignore the man behind the curtain" crap they are pulling with managed retreat. Coastal commission says we have to put it in. Bullshit. It's "highly recommended". If that is a veiled threat call them out on it. Don't endanger Pacifica for the pipedreams of some old hippies in town.

Anonymous said...

We need to make a concerted effort. I will help. We have to inform the citizens of the danger to their economic security from the so called managed retreat.
How can we co-ordinate?

Anonymous said...

Jim and Mark please run for council. You two could do so much for the city.

Honestly please run.

amy vegan said...

Everyone please look at for a graphic representation of how sea level rise will affect the entire bay area. look at pacifica at 1 foot through 6 feet and then zoom out and look at the interior of the bay.

Concern Troll Paging Obvious Troll said...

Yes Amy, we are all going to die.

amy vegan said...

sure. we are all going to die eventually. but not from sea level rise.

Anonymous said...

Stupid commies hate happy homeowner middle class peeps. Earthquake proofing and regulation just wasn't working. So now it's the sea. Agenda 21 will be here in 2030 but according to the Deep State we need Agenda 21 now. So the sky is falling. No it is not. They're just running out of time.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous. lololollolololololololololol.

todd bray said...

Geese, Mark and Jim: get a room.

Mr. Hanky said...

The "Bray" stirs! No one is safe.

Anonymous said...

Todd Bray! I'm surprised at you. Mark and Jim shacked up with geese? Scandalous.

Anonymous said...

When Todd Bray, throws you some shade. It's time to regroup. Time to implement plan B & C.