The Quarry Charade

During March 2005 Melissa Hippard, Lennie Roberts, & myself met with R. Donahue Peebles of the Peebles Atlantic Corporation at the Conservation Center in Palo Alto. The subject of the meeting was a proposed development by Mr. Peebles of the landmark quarry in Rockaway Beach; the quarry is adjacent to the Pacific Ocean & SR 1.

Mr. Peebles informed us that he was going to build out the quarry with a large scale residential development and a luxury hotel. Mr. Peebles spoke continually for one hour and thirty-five minutes, and at no time during the meeting did Mr. Peebles ask a question. Subsequent to the meeting Mr. Peebles shaped the following events to serve the purpose of building out the quarry. He circulated notice of his intention to hold six days of charrettes at the Best Western Hotel in Pacifica. Upon learning of the upcoming charrettes. Coastal Commission staff sent Mr. Peebles a twenty-two page written summary and explanation why it would be wise for him to understand that: “…“significant regulatory constraints exist under the Coastal Act that severely limit the feasibility of any development of the quarry site.”

Mr. Peebles was unimpressed by the Coastal Commission’s professional staff recommendation, and he proceeded to hold charrettes from May 15 through May 21, 2006. The charrettes were created and structured by noted architect and planner Andres Duany. Duany went out of his way to provide his audience with his gospel of the “New Urbanism.” The mantra of the “New Urbanism”: there would be enormous benefits from the Peebles planned development in the quarry.

During the week of the charrettes Mr. Peebles was informed by the California Department of Fish and Game that his development would take the habitat of an endangered species (San Francisco Garter Snake) and a threatened species (California Red Legged Frog) and was, therefore, inconsistent with existing laws which guarantee wildlife habitat protection for endangered & threatened species. Mr. Peebles ignored the informed opinion of the Department of Fish and Game; Peebles and company ended the charrettes by presenting their planned development which was for 355 residential units, and a luxury hotel of 350 rooms in the Pacifica quarry. Supposedly the charrettes existed to encourage public participation in the design of the proposed quarry development . In reality the charrettes were “charades” in that they failed to conform to the professional guidelines adopted by the National Charrette Institute, and constituted nothing more than a sequence of meetings clearly intended to disseminate Mr. Peebles’ propaganda, and deceive the public about the consequences/impacts of his development in the quarry.

In order to avoid the established public hearing process required for proposed developments, Mr. Peebles and his mercenaries began circulating an initiative/petition (during the week of June 12th) intended to place his development language on the Pacifica ballot for this November’s election. The language contains Mr. Peebles development proposal for up to 355 residential units, and a hotel of up to 350 rooms including a restaurant and retail space.

All indicators are to the effect that Mr. Peebles, and his mercenaries will acquire the 2300+ signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot. He knows that the Pacifica public defeated the less intense Trammel Crow development on the same site by a 2:1 margin only four years ago; he’s unimpressed. Mr. Peebles is spending large sums of money in an effort to manipulate public opinion: his proposal for the historic quarry site is in the public interest. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any development in the quarry will, of necessity, require the widening of SR1. That event requires the taking of an environmentally sensitive habitat area (ESHA), and triggers the deadly malignant urban build out cycle for Pacifica. Ultimately, this will result in the terracing of the hillsides above Vallemar and to the south in the same manner that one observes on the Daly City hillsides.

This outcome is out of the question, and represents an unwanted and disastrous environmental crisis in the making; it is the antithesis of what people have worked for to prevent Pacifica from becoming the new Daly City.