The burden of proof

So far as I can see, Measure L offers us 355 living units in an area where there should be no living units and the threat that if we don't allow the living units, we will get big box stores there.

I am reminded of one of the 10 funniest stories of World War II: "There was a V-12 program, (if you don't know what that was, just wait), at a small mid-western college. One of the students was assigned to sentry duty in the middle of the cold night. Even as you and I might, he nodded off to sleep. A Lt. Commander who had nothing better to do woke him up and said, 'Sailor, you can't sleep on sentry duty. What if you were asleep and you woke up to find a battleship steaming down the quadrangle right at you? What would you do?'

"Now awake, the sailor told the Lt. Commander, 'I'd torpedo it with my submarine, sir.'

"Where'd you get the submarine?

The same place you got the battleship, sir.

Well, it was funnier 60 years ago.

My point is that there is no big box store coming to locate in the Quarry.

Forty years ago, the Democratic Club sent Joe Fulford and me and a number of other people to meet with Bernie Lake, an employee of the Chamber of Commerce, to talk about how we could support bringing big stores to Pacifica. The Democratic Club was for that. He told us they wouldn't come, and he was talking about Macy's and the Emporium, not Costco.

I'm not crazy about Wal-Mart in the Quarry, but I don't think it's something we have to worry about or, for that matter, look forward to.

As for income for the City, I saw something saying that there would be extra money for 20 years if there were 355 living units in the Quarry. Well, I've been here 40 plus years, and I've seen a lot of developments. Most of them were supposed to raise more tax money for the City. So far as I know, none of them did. Once, Intel came to town and invited 50 to 60 community leaders to a lunch to try to convince us that they were interested in building a production facility in Pacifica and that we should help them. It wasn't true. They were just trying to get their first choice city to give them a better deal. I guess the other city did that because they built there.

I do know that adding homes adds demand for city and school services, and I don't see or hear anyone running to come forward to say that, in the long run, adding homes to the tax base does anything financially desirable for the city and the school district. And that's not even talking about traffic.

But I'm not sure that the income of the city is what this is all about.

The other day, I was having lunch in a restaurant in Pacific Manor which functions more like a private club than a lunch place. Two men who looked a lot younger than I were talking about Measure L. One of them was speaking very forcefully to the effect that people move to Pacifica to enjoy the beautiful environment and the clean air. He said that people were willing to accept fewer services to have the clean environment.

The environment is a bigger issue for most people than it was 40 years ago when we met with Bernie Lake.

People I know have been counting the garter snakes on the Quarry property just in case Measure L or something like it moves forward. They assure me that it is not true that there are no garter snakes south of Mori's Point. They have very honest faces, and how is it possible that there could be garter snakes north of Vallemar light and not south of it?

I certainly have no axe to grind, and I'm not ready to volunteer to try to write any more budgets for governmental agencies in Pacifica.

But I think that the person pushing Measure L has the burden of showing that it would be good for Pacifica. He may be able to do that, but I haven't seen it yet. And I certainly don't see how he could spend any more money trying to prove his case.

I have lived in Pacifica or practiced law in Pacifica, or both, since 1962. Currently, I have lived here for 10 years, and my office has been open for 36 years. I ran for the Laguna Salada Union School District Board of Trustees in 1965 and served on that board from 1967 to 1974 when I was elected to the City Council on which I served from 1974 to 1978. My three children attended public schools in Pacifica and two of my grandchildren now attend Ocean Shore School. For 11 years, I worked with elected officials, school superintendents and city managers to work out budgets that would provide Pacificans with the kind of services that they deserved within the restraints of the income of the school district and the City. We never had the money to provide services that were available in other cities and school districts. I think the same has been true since that time. People have worked to provide the best services to Pacificans that the City and the school districts can afford. I never saw any pie in the sky while I was in office. I haven't seen any since, and I don't see any now. Pacificans shouldn't expect any developer to come in here and solve the financial problems of the community. And certainly, we should be aware that the first interest of any developer who comes here is to make a profit for himself.

Sidney Lorvan

The above was printed as a Guest Column in the November 1st, 2006 Pacifica Tribune, and is republished here with the author's permission.