- Are you a homeowner? How long? Yes, since 2008, I bought a bank owned house. We love Fairmont.
- What prior elected offices have you held in Pacifica? Describe community involvement and membership in groups that you belong to.
No elected office previously. Member and chair of Pacifica Economic Development Committee 2011-2013. Fogfest Contest Chair, Rotary Club of Pacifica, president elect, club administration, website and youth exhange chair. Pacifica Chamber of Commerce member, tourism committee member.
- How much have you raised for your campaign? What is you total budget for this election? Who are your committee chair, treasurer, and key volunteers?
About $12,000 in actual contributions, my own funds, endorsement award, or commitments for future contributions, from friends from and outside of Pacifica. I’m a solo act, no committee chair, treasurer, campaign manager, a handful of like minded residents, some Cabrillo School parents, former co-workers and grad school buddies help me now and then, but noone is spending more than a few minutes a week. I have not lived in the community all my life, and do not have the extensive networks that some of the candidates have, so I work harder. My wife Carmen is my biggest helper she is in charge of mailings Consistent work on the campaign, several hours a day, is what it takes. Multi-media campaiging: facebook, twitter, website, signs, are being used extensively. I have plenty of advice from former council members, school board members, political activists and others.
- With Pacifica’s $4 million deficit, what is your economic recovery plan for Pacifica?
I have estimated that the value of the Beach Boulevard, the Francisco Parking Lots, and the city’s corporation yard, put together, is about $4 million. Let’s start by marekting these and cure the deficit as quickly as we can.
We also need to facilitate Economic Growth. Encourage creation of new hotel rooms, bed and breakfast rooms, work with State and possibly federal authorities to receive transient occupancy taxes from “Air BnB” internet rentals.
Encourage housing development, within the limits set by the growth control ordinance, following “Smart Growth” as defined in the Climate Action Plan.
The Chamber is doing a phenomenal job of marketing Pacifica, let’s help them, work with them, bringing customers and dollars from outside Pacifica to Pacifica in the form of tourists from all over the country and all over the world. China, Russia, India and Brazil are sending an amazing number of tourists to the USA. Let’s do special outreaches in these countries in their languages.
Let’s facilitate the creation of 200-250 more hotel rooms here in Pacifica. Let’s consider lowering the transient occupancy tax to improve the competitive advantage of our existing hotel properties in the Bay Area market, in turn, creating more room nights and more transient occupancy tax for Pacifica. We should at the very least try this as an experiment.
Let’s bring KIMCO and Avalon Bay to the table regarding their Fairmont properties. As the area nearest to Colma Bart and San Francisco, this is a logical point for a “Smart Growth” transit oriented revitalization, which can dovetail Skyline Boulevard improvements.
We need to have a full time staff person, at Manager or Coordinator level, hired soon, to work consistently in the area of Economic Devleopment. The city has talked about this, but there is, to date, no recruitment occurring.
- For the past 11 years, inter-fund budget transfers have taken place with no public knowledge andno repayment plan. What is your position on this practice and solution?
I think it is a very common practice in many cities. I oppose.
Can the inter-fund budget transfers be listed on the Council agenda for approval, just as Check Disbursements are? That might take some courage, and it would consume time, but after all, there is mistrust, and such a move would restore trust and provide the public with rationale for doing so.
- The unused City sewer plant has sat vacant for 16 years (Beach Blvd project). What are your thoughts on the delay and ingredients for a successful development?
I attended a meeting during the early 90s at the Sharp Park Library regarding the Beach Blvd. Site. I think that over 20 years later, it’s pathetic nothing has happened. The City staff and Council has not pushed hard enough on the Coastal Commission to complete their review. As I said during 2012, the City needs to hire a broker to market the property “as is” and complete a transaction. Get the property on the tax rolls, and there will be even more income when the property is entitled and has a project built on it. Pacifica is now paying entitlement costs. This has to stop. Let the buyer complete the entitlement and pay the costs…to Pacifica. A private developer has more of a motivation to finish the entitlement. We don’t have a planning director now, this impacts the Beach Blvd site. We need to find a new one soon. Or have the City Manager step in that role, temporarily, until one is found.
The program that has been defined in the EIR is good enough, consisting of hotel, townhomes, restaurant and library. Several parties, including myself, have brought offers to buy the property and develop it, and let others develop the new library on or off site. The library bond referendum is suggested as a milestone in order for the marketing of the balance of the property to occur. It is to be seen as to whether or not anything will ever happen.
- Pacifica needs a Main Street. After all Pacifica as a city is 57 years old! What leadership will you bring to steer a Pacifica Main Street to its fruition?
I am spirited by Ryder Homes coming to Pacifica along Palmetto to do a first rate small development of 4 ample townhouses here, with marvelous architectural style that will change the face of Palmetto. In order to create a Main Street, you need to have some synergies in place. More residents are needed, and Pacifica needs to ask itself if it wants to, or can increase densities along Palmetto?. I am guessing there will be great resistance to that. More residents in the area will attract new business. I could see a small “trade school” along Palmetto, which might create “daytime traffic” here. We knew the owners of Candy Oasis which recently closed down after two years of operation. It was a great business, but it was dependent a lot on local business. If there are not many residents in a area, businesses find it hard to flourish. In absence of a large population, “joint-marketing” has been successful in increasing awareness. You would be surprised how many Pacificans have never been to Palmetto. You don’t know it exists driving down Highway One. A reader-board sign before the Francisco/Paloma exit, on school district property….or something less extravagent is needed to direct Highway One traffic to Palmetto. Former City Manager Rhodes had gotten some sort of agreement for “Business Route” signs, whatever happened with that? 2012 Mike O’Neill’s idea to rezone some properties in the West Sharp Park Area, like “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk” was an intriguing idea, I wonder what happened with that? I remember Kevin’s Cottage…having breakfast there, it’s too bad there are not more restaurants on Palmetto.
A lynchpin of Palmetto is the city’s Beach Boulevard Property. This can be an activity center. A first rate hotel will bring visitors looking for restaurants and activities. I am not opposed to a new library, I am opposed to indebting our children and ourselves for it. Selling the property soon, to a developer, minus a 22,000 foot “land reservation” for the new library, on the corner, or other community facility, is the thing to do now, or soon. Waiting for the Coastal Commission may take a long time, let’s get Jerry Hill or the Governor’s office of Economic Development to go to bat for us with the Coastal Commission so that they can “process” whatever they are processing. Lou Papan long ago taught me that kicking and screaming does some good, most of the time, he got a lot done, I want to follow his example and scream a little more at the bureaucrats with the Coastal Commission.
In Linkedin.com I have over 4200 connections in commercial real estate, local retailers, national retailers, developers, looking for opportunities. I believe I can help to recruit development to Palmetto. We don’t have an Economic Development Manager, or even Coordinator at this point, who would otherwise do these things. Leadership in this area needs to come from Council, not staff. I worked in Economic Development during my career with Daly City. Now that I am retired, I want to put that expertise to use, and help to create a community that works in harmony with our spectacular hillside, coastide, natural setting.
- What taxes would you support, or not support? Explain. Under what terms/conditions would you support a new tax in your next 4 year term of office? Explain.
I opposed and passed out about 2500 fliers against measure V, and contributed to their printing. The whole apparatus of what was supposed to be a slam-dunk campaign, with a well funded war chest…..was defeated by a handful of people with a fraction of the budget. I don’t like any new taxes for any new purpose. But if I were to want one, out of necessity, I would work with the chamber of commerce on such a measure, which the Measure V propagators balked at. All members of Council must go out and campaign for the tax.
- Several million dollars of dedicated sewer plant funds were loaned to the City to support employee pension obligations. Why was this done, do you think it was a fiscally responsible action and how and when will the money be paid back?
Necessity is the mother of invention. This was easy money for the City to pull for another purpose. I don’t think it was the right thing to do. It’s part of a larger picture in which the City of Pacifica, through small and large actions, over the years, has neglected economic development. Had the city been, historically, more aggressive in the area of Economic Development, perhaps the city would be better funded, and not have to borrow from the sewer fund. The legacy pension costs are an obligation, that contractually we must meet. You just cannot walk away from it. Pacifica, as other cities have done, has joined in “pension reform”. However, we are stuck for many years, and the only way out is to “grow”….in terms of city revenues: transient occupancy taxes, sales taxes and property taxes. The new homes on Roberts Road, Harmony at One, if sold, at or near the asking prices, will be a small boost for the city’s finances in terms of the property taxes they generate. Responsible, environmentally sensitive development on some of the city’s “infill” parcels can help.
Pacifica must sell its underutilized properties, such as Beach Boulevard, and perhaps the Francisco Parking lot, existing City Hall / Municipal Offices, and relocate the corp yard for sale to developers to create the various tax revenues that can fund the cities current operations as well as meet pension obligations.
- Open government is a big issue, routinely supported by candidates everywhere, and routinely ignored in practice. In Pacifica, our City website is poorly managed. Council agendas are many times released at the last minute. City committees like Economic Development have no members listed, no member contact phones or emails, agendas with no attachments publically available and public comment is taken at the end of the meeting after all decisions are made.
What are your comments about these issues and when can we see formal motions authored by you at Council to correct the listed deficiencies?
I disagree with the notion that the whole website is poorly managed! The website is only as good as those who create and post the information, and the webmaster has created a great site in my view. We have a less than full-service city here in Pacifica. We don’t have the staff to provide the website manager with the most available content on a timely basis.
Can the chamber make a comprehensive list of everything that is missing and present it to the Council?. Has the chamber formally asked for any of the above? Maybe it could be done.
- What is your vision for Pacifica? Where do you see this community in 4-8 years?
Jerry Brown while mayor of Oakland set an ambitious goal of 10,000 housing units in their downtown to revitalize it and that years later has been realized. We need an ambitious goal here in Pacifica and I have one, its not too high a hanging fruit, we can do it by being a little aggressive: Sell Beach Blvd, for a mixed use including 75-100 room hotel. Build the proposed hotel on Oceana, build the Holiday Inn Express addition, and build another 100 rooms (could be Bed and Breakfast) anyplace in Pacifica where they might fit. 250+ new rooms online producing transient occupancy tax. Existing hotels upgrade to capture higher average daily rates. I see a better funded Pacifica in 4-8 years, thriving on the transient occupancy tax produced by all these new hotel rooms. The Pacifica Chamber deserves an award for promoting Pacifica! If there is no award, the Council should create one. No less than a heroic effort.
On top of the hotel rooms, we need to continue in the direction of enhancing our reputation as a go-to spot for tourists and local visitors to fill those new hotel rooms. I wrote about capitalizing on Mavericks in my letter to the Tribune a year ago. Our Pacifica restaurants and bars and attractions can band together to tie into this international event. Same goes for Dream Machines. I want to have more car shows, over and above Terra Nova’s show. A great analog is “Woodies on the Wharf” held in Santa Cruz. A great fun event for the whole family, it ties in car, food and the coastal backdrop very well. We could have something like this on Palmetto, or in Rockaway or by the Surf Spot. I would like to promote and cross promote our arts community. More open studios weekends, possibly merging with the Half Moon Bay/Coastside artists. We need to celebrate and continue to promote our two musical venues, Terra Nova, and Mildren Owen, and try to bring more national and international artists here in Pacifica.
The goal of all of the above is “Sustainable Economic Development” which does not degrade our environment, and is financially responsible. Our strong suit is our fantastic coastal environment. Let’s capitalize on that and be the model for other cities in the Bay Area.