The debate about Measure L has become excessively confusing, perhaps by design. My perspective is there are four main points to consider; housing, open space, traffic, and Mr. Peebles' vision.
Let us look at the housing element, which is the only portion of the initiative that makes any change to the quarry's zoning. The initiative does not say 131 stand-alone houses, as Mr. Peebles' supporters tell us; it allows "up to 355 residential units" of varying types. It does not specify what type.
Three hundred and fifty-five homes are more than in Fairway Park where I live. It would be a dense and intrusive development. 355 single family homes built on standard 5,000 sq. ft. lots cover 1,775,000 sq. ft. of land -- 40.75 acres -- not including sidewalks, roads, easements, and right of ways. Voting for Measure L might gives a developer the right to build homes on just under half the land.
Mr. Peebles and his supporters make a big deal about the fact that 45% of the land, 39.15 acres, will be donated to permanent open space. It is not build-able land! Forty-five percent takes in the steep slopes, Caltrans right-of-ways, and land surrounding Calera Creek. How generous of Mr. Peebles to "donate" land he cannot use.
The argument on traffic should be a no-brainer. You do not need to see the studies to know that northbound traffic between Crespi and Reina Del Mar is horrendous in the morning commute. The afternoon traffic is not always as bad but all it takes is one stall to snarl Highway One from Sharp Park southward.
The Measure L supporters would have you believe that the traffic problems are a figment of your imagination, or that they are Half Moon Bay's fault, and that increased housing in the Quarry will have no effect. It is a certainty that any development in the Quarry will add to the problem. The debate is which will adversely affect traffic more, housing or commercial/retail.
I believe housing will make it worse. Housing will mean more commuters. It is a fact of life that most Pacificans leave Pacifica to earn their daily bread. Even if there were only one commuter per household (doubtful) that would be 355 extra commuters trying to get out of Pacifica in the morning and returning in the afternoon.
Consider a hotel and retail in the Quarry. It is likely that most employees of any new development would be counter-commuters. Add in the fact that most retail does not open until the end of the morning commute and you have minimal adverse affect. There would be increased traffic to the retail but much of it would be outside commute hours.
Much has been made about the fact that there is money available to mitigate the commute. Mitigate does not mean resolve, it just means making it better. My personal belief is that it would be an incremental improvement and not enough to offset 355 homes.
I am tired of hearing about Mr. Peebles' "vision." If Mr. Peebles felt so strongly about his vision then it would be on the ballot and we would not be voting on a wholesale change in the Quarry's zoning. The only concrete plan Mr. Peebles has presented the voters of Pacifica is 355 residential units -- HOMES!
I keep hearing that Mr. Peebles is a trustworthy guy. I am sure that John DeLorean seemed trustworthy when he sold Northern Ireland his vision of an auto plant. Do you have any idea how many DeLorean cars are produced in Northern Ireland right now? There is a big difference between dreams and reality. The reality is Measure L will allow 355 residential units -- homes -- in the Quarry.
Mr. Peebles' supporters want you to believe that the people against Measure L do not want anything built there. I can only speak for Bruce Hotchkiss. I want development in the Quarry. I want to see businesses thriving and contributing to our tax base. I do not want to see housing. Until I see a proposal that truly benefits Pacifica and has a chance to be economically viable I will say no to bad development. Measure L is bad for Pacifica. I urge every registered voter in Pacifica to vote NO ON L.
The above was printed as a Guest Column in the November 1st, 2006 Pacifica Tribune, and is republished here with the author's permission.