OWN VOICE ARTICLE. VIDEO ~ Cherie Chan (Pacifica) & Gregg Dieguez (Montara)
Pacifica Puts Profits Over People (Well, Except For One Land Owner)
In another stunning victory for parasitic profiteering and climate denial, the Pacifica City Council ignored the pleas of its citizens and voted 4-1 Monday night to approve a Local Coastal Plan (LCLUP) which denies the Climate Crisis while also taking away critical wetlands reserved primarily for recreational opportunities.
The Council also denied a Brown Act Appeal filed by citizens because of the City’s back-door dealings with a private land-owner. As a result, substantial changes were made to the approved use for a critical 5.2 acre wetlands adjacent to Pacifica State Beach at Linda Mar (from recreational to residential uses) with no opportunity for informed public comment. First there was the billionaire at Martin’s Beach, and now there’s SAMCAR’s 3 favorite Pacifica council members, restricting Linda Mar State Beach access, spoiling views, and refusing to plan for Sea Level Rise. (SAMCAR ~ San Mateo County Association of REALTORS)
The Pacifica Local Coastal Plan, last updated in 1980, serves as the backbone of Pacifica’s land use policy in the Coastal Zone west of Highway 1. The City started updating the General Plan in 2009 which was stalled in 2014, primarily due to neighborhood opposition over the proposed land use change on the 5.2 acre wetlands, formerly owned by the Catholic Church and sold to its own real estate agent in a private deal for $550,000.
While the neighborhood has consistently rejected this taking of a vital visitor-oriented property, it is now eligible for conversion into 35+ homes in a tsunami evacuation zone, within a coastal neighborhood with only one entrance and exit. Hundreds of resident letters have been ignored, including massive and damning expert testimony from a Coastal Ecologist, a Geologist, and an Attorney
What is stunning about the decision is not merely the manipulation of coastal protections for all to favor real estate interests, it is that the City is not learning from obvious reality. The City’s own Planning Department noted that it had not had an opportunity to update its Local Coastal Plan since 2014, because Coastal Erosion had necessitated the demolition of apartments along Esplanade Avenue. Just this past August, the city accepted a $188,000 Grant from the California Coastal Commission to study Sea Level Rise. Rather than learn from these recent experiences and return with a sustainable General Plan, the City has resubmitted a Local Coastal Plan which continues to deny the Climate Crisis, and plans for dumping more sand and unfunded sea walls as potential solutions for Sea Level Rise, while green lighting more development in key, vulnerable properties.
Worse yet, the City continued to take back-channel meetings with the land owner, including making complete changes to the existing land use designation – while characterizing them as mere clarifications – on the day of the Planning Commission meeting. And in a dramatic conclusion, the City has the audacity to propose that no Environmental Review will needed, because their actions are unlikely to result in any changes to the environment.
The Council then signed a Resolution certifying that the LCLUP is fully in conformity with the Coastal Act, and finding that approval of the LCLUP is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Wasn’t the Coastal Act supposed to prevent building houses on the coastline?
Note the implications for coastal protections all along our Coast. First, the developers get the rules changed. Then they avoid conforming with CEQA. Voila! Profits for them and costs and congestion for the rest of us. Residents in Moss Beach are seeing this same script followed for the Cypress Point housing project.
So, if you enjoy going to the beach, or enjoy watching surfing, or enjoy a view of the beach, or think that building on an eroding coastline is a waste of everyone’s time and money, then click and shout this article and forward it to every one who surfs, or lives in Pacifica, or cares about responsible government. On the other hand, if you loved those videos of Pacifica homes falling into the ocean, or watching Pacifica get denied critical statewide funds for its failure to comply with state law, Never Mind.
– Cherie Chan (Pacifica) & Gregg Dieguez (Montara)
2020-02-24 Pacifica City Council - Full Agenda-1287