Fact vs. Fiction

Peebles' Financial Fantasy

You've seen the signs and TV ads that promise $17 million in new tax revenue for Pacifica. It's always been a case of "If it seems too good to be true...," but until recently it wasn't possible to analyze where that number came from and see how believable it is. Now that Peebles has finally released an economic analysis, we can see that this number is 100% fantasy.

Long history of litigation

In Pacificans for Sustainable Development's public No on L statement we said that "Measure L makes our city vulnerable to this developer's lawsuits." History tends to repeat itself if people are not informed. Now Pacificans are doing their own research, resulting in many concerned references to his litigious history in articles and letters to the editor.

Pacifica deserves better

As a homeowner who has been actively involved in this community for 25 years (3-time PB&R Commission Chair, Pacificans Care, Family Fun Fest and Fog Fest Board member, Alternative Class Parent, etc.), I too want a quality project in the Quarry. I was willing to keep an open mind on Measure L but the negatives kept piling up. My vote is based upon integrity, due diligence, trust, fair play, and civility. Would I buy a used car from this company without looking under the hood? No. Do past negative actions and tactics speak louder than words and promises when evaluating future choices? Yes. In addition to the ballot arguments, here are 13 things that have triggered my No vote:

Seven reasons to vote NO on L

With November 7th drawing near, now's the time to summarize why Measure L is bad for Pacifica.

  1. Measure L exists only to allow 355 housing units in the Quarry. It's not a straw poll or a survey. It's a permanent change to allow 355 housing units in a C-3 commercial zone.
  2. More houses mean more cars. Measure L's high-density housing "vision" would merge hundreds more commuters directly in between the two worst-rated intersections on Highway 1 in Pacifica. Miami high-rise developer R. Donahue Peebles has claimed he'll build multi-million-dollar, 4,500-square-foot houses there. The residents of those "Tract Villas" will almost certainly own and drive multiple cars, and commute to big-city jobs to pay their mortgages.
  3. Peebles has repeatedly threatened us with a mushroom cloud of "big-box" retail if we don't give him his 355 housing units. But that "choice" ignores the vast middle ground between those extremes. Peebles deliberately chose an "all-or-nothing" approach, instead of negotiating a development agreement first.
  4. Measure L asks Pacificans to forfeit our right to vote on the specifics. Why authorize 355 housing units and a dramatic change to the character of Pacifica, without assuring anything in exchange? Measure L puts the cart before the horse. It would give away those lucrative houses before negotiation even begins. That's not a negotiation, it's a fold.
  5. Attempting to get Pacificans to fold is big money politics, straight from Miami and D.C. The "yes on L" campaign has spent $1,310,384 so far to try to push Measure L past Pacifica voters. It's an extravagant sum for an election in a quiet coastal town.
  6. Peebles has claimed that Measure L will solve all our problems and fulfill nearly every wish. We've been told that it'll give us a sports complex, a library, a movie theater, a new City Hall, an aquatic center, affordable housing, a performing arts center, loans to the City, and more. Those would have to be built, maintained, and staffed with taxpayer's money, and it's unclear where exactly that's going to come from. Without a development agreement, the promises are meaningless anyway.
  7. Finally, there is no "town center" in Measure L. The words don't even appear in the ballot language. There's no specific number of houses other than 355. There's no specific amount of commercial. There's no specific amount of space for any public buildings, parks, or amenities. It's just not there.

Measure L is an attempted end-run around the public process. It has been sold through:

Peebles financial claims questionable

After only 5 months, Peebles' posted his financial analysis. It assumes:

  • an average sales price of $2.3 million per housing unit
  • an average assessed value for each hotel suite of $880,000
  • an average suite room rate of $595/night

Even with those inflated numbers, he still has to include $500,000 in sales tax (which at the charrette he said he couldn't estimate) and $100,000 in business improvement district fees in order to reach the promised $17 million. (Actually, $16.7 million.)

Pacificans receive Peebles "push-poll", part two

Peebles and his P.R. firm Davies Communications are running a new push poll, in a blatant attempt to "sell" Measure L through leading questions. The calls appear to be coming from "First Media Services" of El Paso, Texas-- a location known for low-cost labor for telemarketing operations.

Peebles spends $1,310,384 (up from $895,137, up from $867,163) to buy Measure L election

Update 10/27/06: The current total spending by the Peebles-funded "Yes on L" campaign through 10/21/06 is $1,310,384.78 according to today's election report. That's $415,247.75 just over the last 21 days, or $19,773.70 per day. More details, and the full report, here.

The empty threats continue

South Florida developer R. Donahue Peebles keeps threatening in letters and mailers that he will build a "big box" store if voters reject Measure L's blank check for 355 houses. Then in public he apologizes for making the threat or denies that he made it. Then the next mailer repeats the threat.

Pacificans receive "pledge" letter from Peebles

On October 2nd, The Peebles Corporation sent a letter to the City Council, copied to two community groups, and to the "Citizens of Pacifica"-- indicating it is a P.R. stunt intended for publication in the Tribune. The letter repeats Peebles' usual campaign promises, including an offer to donate some unspecified amounts of land for public buildings under some conditions, and also to loan money to the City for some public works.

Excerpt from Forum on Rockaway Quarry Concerns at Vallemar

Excerpt including comments by Mike Vasey, former Pacifica City Council Member, from the October 1st Forum sponsored by Concerned Vallemar Neighbors.

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