I recently sent a letter to Mr. Peebles. I wanted to communicate simply as one human being to another. I thought Tribune readers might find the approach interesting, perhaps others may want to do the same. In a slightly shortened version, here is what I said:
You met me at your meeting at the Sanchez Center in Pacifica last Sunday (Oct.15). You did alleviate one or two on my concerns but you ended up raising other concerns. While I can support a project that has commercial aspects such as a hotel and movie theater, I can never accept the idea of more than 100 residential units on the property. I also want a court to decide whose interpretation of the 1983 initiative's language is right -- yours, which you claim forces you to present Measure L (no more than a concept) to the public first to get approval for mixed use before going to the City Council, or past practice, which has had a specific plan presented to the City Council and then later presented to the voters for approval.
While those are the main reasons I'm still against Measure L, I'm also not convinced that you are truly willing to play fair with the people of Pacifica and its current City Council, all of whom are excellent citizens who've guided this city well through tough times caused by bureaucrats at the state level lowering money allocations to cities. The recent "push-poll" is an example of this unfairness -- its "small" size is no excuse -- elections are sometimes decided by only a few votes. Politics is a nasty business, but this whole situation of pitting portions of the community against each other could have been avoided with a more suitable scaled-down proposal.
You yourself said that you have enough money -- why then pursue the "maximum" plan you've conceived of? You risk coming across as a standard "greedy" businessman who only pretends to consider the wishes of the community, while actually using the input you've gathered to find which folks in Pacifica can provide you support for your own plans for the site and then calling it a "community vision." You seem to have ignored the folks who wanted to limit the size of any possible proposal to an acceptable scaled down level.
A scaled down (especially the residential part) project can still generate enough profit for you, considering the bargain price you paid -- it can still generate lots of income for the city without adversely requiring money to provide more city services. This apparent greed factor will just generate bad karma for you and make citizens question your moral commitment to the community. As "steward" of such an important environmentally sensitive piece of our coastside, your leadership with your property will be recalled either fondly or bitterly by future generations here -- the choice is yours.
Measure L, if it passes, will generate enough bad feelings that the remaining approval bodies will be inundated with angry citizens attempting to block the maximum version of the project any way possible. But it didn't have to be this way -- a more reasonable proposal/concept could have generated much more support, particularly if it was not seen to impact commuter hour traffic adversely (ie. emphasizing commercial uses that generate most of their traffic between commuter hours.)
I still don't believe you truly understand Pacifica -- there's an impressive history of public-guided decision-making here that has resulted in our slow and careful growth, which a majority of our citizens (I believe) support. It's part of what makes us so unique. About 50% of Pacifica is preserved land (city, county, state, federal, and private) and most of us are very proud of that. It's something which has enhanced our property values and the overall quality of life here. Previous battles have often been with Caltrans and developers of the past who wanted to cover the coastside with houses and concrete. Some City Council candidates seem to support such outrageous growth again -- I'm confident they'll be defeated.
I'd love to have a chance to talk with you more, and perhaps to even walk around your property with you and discuss ideas that can truly help your name be remembered well here. You seem to be a developer who wants to do the right thing for our city, or so you profess -- but Measure L is not the way to do that. I feel bad that you've spent (wasted?) so much money supporting it -- the same money could have been spent on many better uses.
I look forward to hearing from you and perhaps beginning a real dialogue. Before that happens though, I'll be upfront and let you know that I'm helping the NO on L side pass out their flyers this weekend.
The above was printed as a Letter to the Editor in the October 25th, 2006 Pacifica Tribune, and is republished here with the author's permission.