Beware Fool's Gold

Beware of fool's gold! Florida developer Don Peebles is frantically trying to woo voters into supporting his huge 355-housing unit project. He is darting from group to group in our community promising all sorts of goodies -- anything that will get their support and votes.

But it's all just empty, meaningless promises. Sadly, those few who may buy his line and attempt to grab for the gold are going to end up with a fistful of pyrite. I think that Mr. Peebles now knows that his project is in big trouble with the voters. Pacificans don't want thousands and thousands of additional daily vehicle trips dumped onto an already congested Highway 1. Let's not forget that developer Peebles has made it clear that he certainly won't be putting out the millions of dollars necessary to solve the hideous rush hour congestion problems at the Fassler and the Vallemar bottlenecks.

Also, someone should tell Mr. Peebles that Pacificans don't like to be threatened, particularly by someon out-of-town developer. Mr. Peebles has been spreading the notion that, if he loses in November, he can just go ahead and build something far worse.

No, Mr. Peebles, you cannot, and you know it. Any project on the Quarry must be approved by the Coastal Commission and, furthermore, any dog of a project you may want to slap up in revenge is subject to the public taking it to a referendum vote. All it takes is a simple petition drive to drag you back before the voters. Now let's get it straight. There is no "plan" for the public's vote. You will only get what Mr. Peebles has on the ballot, and that is mainly 355 housing units. Remember, there is no adopted Development Agreement. The "new urbanism" drawings were nothing more than a sales tool to lure voters, like a sales brochure hawking green, lush home sites in the middle of the desert -- nothing more than a mirage. I am a longtime believer in "new urbanism" and "smart growth," but don't kid yourself. That's not what is on the ballot.

On the upcoming November ballot there is no town square, no movie theater, no performing arts center, no aquatic facility, no library, no city hall, and, cruelest of all, no significant money for schools. And if he wins the election there is absolutely no way to make him provide those things-- only what's spelled out on the ballot and nothing more.

It could have been very different if Mr. Peebles had put an actual plan, including a map, on the ballot, showing exactly what would be built. That's what happened with the Mori Point development proposal in 1984. That measure passed.

Mr. Peebles could have worked out and signed a binding Development Agreement with the city. He could have worked with the Coastal Commission and California Fish and Game to see what is possible on the Quarry. He could have completed an Environmental Impact Report. He could have worked with community groups and the schools. After that, he could have gone to the ballot with a true new urbanism plan.

But he didn't, and this November he is going to pay the price for his smoke and mirrors. By now, everyone sees the pattern here. Tell the voters anything to get them to sign the petitions. Promise them anything to get their votes. It's all flim flam.

But I have faith in Pacificans. They were not bamboozled by Trammell Crow and they won't be bamboozled by Mr. Peebles.

The above was also sent to the Pacifica Tribune and printed as a Letter to the Editor on July 26th, 2006.