Caesar's rule was "Divide and Conquer" and Peebles and his associates are pursuing the same strategy: Divide the citizens of Pacifica and reap the spoils. Many well-intentioned and well-meaning citizens jumped on the Yes on L bandwagon. They see Measure L as an opportunity to bring needed tax revenue to Pacifica. They also have become emotionally invested in the process to the point where reasoned opposition to Measure L is seen and felt as a personal attack.
This is precisely what was intended by the Divide-and-Conquer strategy, so let us review how the good citizens of Pacifica arrived at this point.
Don Peebles bought the quarry property and he got a heck-of-a-deal. Don Peebles and his corporation are in business to maximize the profits for their investment, we can't blame them for that. He is not Santa Claus to Pacificans, so let?s not look for hand-outs. The Peebles Corporation gets the maximum return on their investment by building homes and selling them, but for that the zoning has to be changed through a vote by the Pacifica citizens.
The next step was how to position the zoning change, how to get people to buy into adding homes and increasing traffic at Pacifica's most clogged section of Highway One. The answer was to dangle a carrot, in this case the oft-repeated $17 million dollars in expected tax revenue. Never mind that the numbers don't work. Don't take my word for it. Go to their own website and click on Traffic, Jobs and Tax Revenues, the click ADE independent findings. According to those figures the plan and projections are for 355 residential units at $2.373 million dollars PLUS 42 live/work units. (Don Peebles actually contradicts the ADE study by stating on his blog:
October 12th, 2006 at 5:28 pm
Paul, I understand your confusion over this matter. Many opponents to Measure L are misquoting the project description by saying that I am planning to build 355 houses, when in fact Measure L clearly states that any development I plan to submit to the City Council cannot include any more than 355 residential units of varying types. Our vision proposes 131 single family homes, 42 town houses, 42 live/work homes, and 140 apartments. I hope this has helped clarify the confusion about the housing.
So either the ADE revenue projections are counting 42 units twice or the plan is for more than 355 units, which is it?)
Well, once the project is in and the numbers are not there, it can always be blamed on expert projections that did not materialize.
The process, in my opinion and from my observation, was never meant to be a dialogue between The Peebles Corporation and the citizens of Pacifica, but just to have the appearance of a dialogue.
The charettes were a charade to make citizens feel like they had input. Never mind that invitations to attend the charettes arrived days after the event had taken place.
The Measure L petition drive, in my opinion, was deliberately mis-leading and many people who had signed the petition, after finding out what it was really about, later wished that they had not signed it. This includes my wife.
The Rockaway Quarry Committee, Yes on Measure L, with Major Funding by an affiliate of the Peebles Corporation recently sent out an oversize post card with photo simulations of a horrible looking Big Box development and a bucolic photo simulation of the Measure L vision. Both are completely deceptive; they meant to stir up an emotional response. The old "carrot and stick" approach.
(Go to Google Earth to view the quarry, or better yet, take a stroll along the creek path in the quarry and look at the hills which would have to be flattened to accomodate either vision. And for those who claim that Highway One realignment or clover leaf interchanges are the answer to the traffic problem, pan on Google Earth over to the 101 and East 3rd, or the 101 and Marine Parkway clover leaf and see for your self how much space they take up. Pacifica would lose two gas stations and other existing tax revenue producing businesses.)
Glowing, unrealistic revenue projections or equally unrealistic dire photo simulations do not aid in deciding what is best for Pacifica. Do not treat Pacificans like simpletons who have to be cajoled like errant children.
Pacificans deserve better than this. This is a serious issue which requires a serious approach. We have only one chance to get it right:
Pacificans will be the ones stuck in traffic!
Pacificans will have to pick up the tab when the tax revenue projections do not materialize!
Future generations of Pacificans will hold us responsible.
The geography of Pacifica and the terrain of the quarry site defies easy answers and requires a logical and deliberative process which so far has been absent in this debate.
Please Vote No on Measure L. Maybe Mr. Peebles and his corporation will then start a real dialogue with the citizens of Pacifica instead of luring our votes with empty promises and idle threats.
The above was submitted as a Letter to the Pacifica Tribune, but was not printed. It is republished here with the author's permission.