The owner of the Rockaway Beach Quarry, R. Donahue Peebles, was profiled by The San Francisco Bay Area Guardian issue of 8/29/06. Their profile of his meteoric ascent in the real estate business in D.C. and Florida stated, "He earned a reputation for resorting to multimillion-dollar litigation when those relationships went bad." But did Mr. Peebles mellow after arriving in California? Apparently not. Mr. Peebles' partnership filed suit against the California State Mining and Geology Board in March 2006, a month after being fined a tenth of the maximum fine for failure to file an acceptable assurance instrument for the reclamation of the Quarry. (Rockaway Beach Ltd. v. SMBG et al.) At the "charrette" meetings I attended in May, Mr. Peebles described himself as completely cooperative with the State regarding reclamation of the formerly quarried property. Curiously, he and his agents made no mention of the fact that aspects of the reclamation matter were in litigation.
One of the great things about Pacifica is that this community has a lively sense of civic involvement and a strong sense of democracy. We are really lucky that some people in the city were thinking about the needs of our community when they developed the Rockaway Specific Plan, that calls for mixed-use new urbanist development at the Quarry site. We are also lucky that city politicians built in a mechanism to make it such that the people of Pacifica could have veto power over any development agreement to build housing on that site. The people of Pacifica exercised that power in a responsible way when it rejected the Trammell Crow plan.
After much thought and analysis, including meetings and many conversations with Quarry owner/developer R. Donahue Peebles, Pacificans for Sustainable Development (PSD) steering committee has decided to oppose Measure L.
Clearly, our community is under attack again. This is not the first time that an out-of-town developer has proffered a scheme for radical change through overdevelopment of open land. We seem to be a target for those characters, whose ideas are so far out of the well-established mainstream of Pacifica thought.
This past week I received a slick publication packet of Peebles' propaganda. It was followed a few days later by a phone call.
After asking if I had received the packet, the caller asked if I had any questions or comments. I replied that I could find no plan as referenced by Mr. Peebles. I requested additional materials for helpful clarifications about Mr. Peebles non-plan "plan" which he refers to as his "vision." I also asked who the "we" were to which Mr. Peebles continually refers. The response (after a pause) was "Mr. Peebles and his staff."
I was unable to attend last Saturday's debate between Peter Loeb and Mr. Peebles. However, one comment that was brought up in several Letters to the Editor regarding Saturday's debate was that Mr. Peebles is such a "nice person." Of course he's being a nice person. Mr. Peebles is a very successful businessman and he knows that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Every Pacifica voter possesses something he would very much like to have: a yes vote on Measure L. He will do and say whatever it takes to get that vote.
Regarding the article "Condos challenge Coastal Act" published Monday August 28th:
The Sierra Club is equally concerned about the proposed development for the old quarry in Pacifica. Developer R. Don Peebles proposes the same type of luxury development that not only is not aimed at ordinary families, but will impact ecologically sensitive habitat and endangered species. Pacificans said no to a similar proposal in 2002. However, this time the developer is even more of a concern than the development project (which is vague at best). Mr. Peebles has gone to great lengths to mislead the community by greenwashing his project, threatening to build a WalMart when that is not possible under the current zoning and Coastal Act protections, and using deceptive tactics to create the illusion of grassroots support. It is critical that the San Mateo Times and other reputable news sources cover this story accurately, thoroughly and most importantly in a timely manner. The residents of Pacifica have a right to know who they are being asked to make a deal with.
A ticking time bomb awaits the California voter this November. Proposition 90, known as the "Protect Our Homes Act," would radically change the way in which land-use regulations are used (or largely voided) in California. A coalition of wealthy real estate moguls and Libertarian activists have been funding and promoting not only this initiative, but others in western states.
Have you ever had to wake someone, and found out later that they were in a particularly wonderful dream?
Initially, they may hardly respond. However, as you persist in trying to help them reconnect with a reality that does not include the cherished dream, one often discovers that they can become quite grumpy, even outright angry, in response to your well- intended efforts!
Quarry owner Don Peebles has been promising Pacificans everything but the moon if they will just vote to rezone the Quarry for 355 housing units. Since most of the promises are not binding and are not even in the ballot measure, they are not enforceable. Yet, voters are being asked to put blind faith in Mr. Peebles, based on nothing but his self-proclaimed integrity. So far, he has put on an impressive show. But now, his credibility in the community is eroding.