Menu

Business gains new Clout by Gideon Rubin, Pacifica Patch – December 2012

The era of Pacifica’s environmentalist wing’s dominance of city politics is over.

That’s according to the top two vote-getters in last month’s election for the two-year term on the city council.

Mike O’Neill and Victor Spano represent a pro-business faction that’s emboldened by an apparent repudiation of a once-mighty Pacifica environmentalist voting block.

O’Neill’s decisive win in the two-year race figured prominently in an election that dramatically changed the dynamic of a council that for decades has been dominated by the city’s environmentalist faction.

Pacifica voters last month gave the city’s pro-business faction a decisive 4-1 majority on the council, voting in Karen Ervin and returning incumbent Mary Ann Nihart, who along with O’Neill and newly elected Mayor Len Stone give the city’s pro-development wing more clout than it’s had in recent memory.

Sue Digre is Pacifica’s only remaining environmentalist left on the council.

“I think it shows that (Pacifica’s) pro-environmentalist movement subsiding,” said Victor Spano, the runner-up to O’Neill in the race for the two-year seat.

Spano finished ahead of Sierra Club-endorsed Richard Campbell by a razor-thin 23-vote margin (4,060-4,037).

The two pro-business candidates combined to garner more than 60 percent of the vote.

O’Neill said the election reflects a change in the electorate, with Pacifica voters expressing their angst with years of budget deficits, shuttered businesses and proposed cost-cutting measures.

“I just think people realize that there’s got to be more revenue,” O’Neill said. “The days of getting services and not paying for them just aren’t there any more.”

For his part, Campbell rejects the notion that Pacifica’s green movement has become non-factor in city politics, noting that his pro-environment stands did not in his estimation represent a hindrance to economic development.

“I think that’s a false choice between economic growth and environmental protection,” he said. “I don’t buy into that notion and that I was just representing environmental folks in town. I had a lot of support among a broad base” of the electorate.”

Campbell said he campaigned on economic development, too.

“I think the message was (that voters) want to see progress on development in the city,” he said. “All three of us campaigned on that message and all three of us split the vote.”

O’Neill acknowledged that Pacifica’s environmentalist faction is in tune with the city’s desperate need to promote economic development.

“I think they’ve acknowledged the realities of today’s world,” he said.

He also acknowledged that pro-business in Pacifica doesn’t mean the same thing as pro-business Bakersfield does.

“I don’t want to see the hills developed,” Campbell said. “There’s a reason you live in this town by the ocean and there’s a reason you have 60 percent open space. What (voters) want to see is a realization that there’s a budget and services that are in the city of Pacifica and there has to be some sustainability in order to maintain them.”

Spano and Campbell said they’ve both congratulated O’Neill on his victory.

“I wish Mike well,” Spano said. “We’ve got a great council now and as a member of the Pacifica Economic Development Committee I want to help out the entire council any way I can.”

Campbell said he believes O’Neill’s real estate background is an asset to the city.

“I wish him well and I believe he can serve effectively,” he said.

Both left the door open to a 2014 council run.

“Why not?” Spano said. “I thought the people of Pacifica received me well. We’ll see in 18 months.”

Campbell acknowledged he’s thought about another council run, too.

“Sure, it’s something to consider,” he said. “Absolutely.”

 

Advertisements

Pacifica BACPAC Questions

 

  1. Are you a homeowner? How long?   Yes, since 2008, I bought a bank owned house.  We love Fairmont.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Issues:

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

Chamber Candidates Forum – Attendee Questions

PACIFICA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Pacifica City Council Candidates Forum

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Nick’s Restaurant

Questions from the Attendees

Question #1

Why hasn’t Pacifica had the economic progress like other neighboring cities?

If you fly, your plane ride experience is as good as your pilots are.  You might hope that instead of a “greenhorn”, you might have a pilot with hundreds of thousands of hours of experience, like that guy who landed the plane on the Hudson, with nerves of steel and unparalleled skill.  Otherwise you might find yourself in a heap of trouble, there have been a few airline incidents that have ended tragically in the news over the years.  Same goes for Council. Some times the best intentions have negative effects.  Pacifica’s current and former councils allowed an adverse development climate to evolve and proliferate.  In other words, the reputation for investors and developers that Pacifica has, is that Pacifica is a place where you will lose money, because the neighbors come out an oppose your project and your project will not be approved.  Or your building permits take “forever” to come, just like the co-owner of Surf Spot wrote two years ago in Pacifica Patch.  The new coffee shop owners taking over in Linda Mar have also been delayed.  Instead of the outside consultant, let us talk to South San Francisco, San Bruno or Daly City about doing our permits and being our ‘permit desk” if the people we have here cannot speed things up.   These are just two reasons, why Pacifica has not had Economic Progress.  

My career was in Economic Development, making things happen, to help facilitate new revenues.  I want to bring my experience to the table here where I own a home.

Question #2

What can you do, if elected to City Council, to increase public, (including visitors and tourists,) awareness and use of Golden Gate National Recreation Area parklands and trails?

I would like to work with federal representatives Speier, Boxer, Feinstein, as well as State representatives Hill, Mullin and others to establish a Golden Gate National Recreation Center Visitor Center in Rockaway Beach, preferably in the vacant space next to the Chamber of Commerce, or elsewhere. Such a visitor center can be found near Sutro Baths.  A Visitor Center would draw tourists to Pacifica, as well as bring new traffic to our restaurants, hotels and other businesses in Rockaway and throughout Pacifica.   

The Chamber of Commerce has done an excellent job of marketing Pacifica, I served on the Tourism Committee while it met, one of the great outreaches done is the youtube video, “Pacifica’s Time in the Marketplace” which has universally drawn great responses.  I feel an outreach to the BRICS countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China, to publicize Pacifica as a great destination in the San Francisco Bay area as a “base” for tourists to discover the GGNRA in our midst, can up our visits 5-20%.  

 

Question #3
What steps are you going to take to find the $3-4 million dollars that are missing?

I support the City Manager who has retained a “Forensic Accountant” to look at the city’s books over the years and determine the disposition of the “missing funds”. 

Large inter-fund transfers, or temporary to long-term loans from one fund to another should appear in the City Council consent agenda, for public view, and to inform the Council.  

I join many Pacificans in being infuriated at members of Council for the lack of stewardship of this substantial amount of the public’s funds.  A squandering of the public’s trust.

 

Question #4
In terms of both short and long term revenues, if the best offer for the Beach Blvd. project was for the property without the Library or the pump station, would you support it?

Yes, sure.   We need to get a broker now to cast the net and find us the best offer.  The expression “Time Value of Money” applies here.  The City could have began negotiating a year or two ago, as it proceeded with entitlements via the Coastal Commission and other bodies.  So, by the time the Coastal Commission gives the project it’s “blessing”, instead of needing to start from scratch, we could be well along the way in negotiating a project.  So by not acting, the City loses tens of thousands per month, or hundreds of thousands per year when it cannot afford to.   

Palmetto is a “pioneering location” for a hotel developer.  Any hotel developer will need concessions from the city, including, but not limited to free land, or rebate of transient occupancy tax.  Construction costs will be high.  I think that the Council’s or certain council person’s idea of the value of the site may not take that into consideration.  The hotel will be the “loss leader” for this project and diminish the value for the entire site.  New hotels that I had a hand in in Daly City, as well as the Four Seasons property in East Palo Alto had some concessions to get them going.  

With all that said, I believe a 22,000 square foot piece, at the corner of Monecito and Palmetto….a small piece of the entire nearly 4 acre site, can be reserved for a library.  If the library doesnt happen it can either be sold to the selected developer on a first right of refusal basis, or some other party for some other purpose.  I don’t think reserving a small piece of the site for a library affects the marketability of the balance of the site, or a library use.  This is a great site whether it includes it or not, I am aquainted with a boutique hotel developer who loves this site and wants to do the project.

As for the pump station, I believe there are engineering or design solutions which can “screen” the new development in terms of visual or other impacts that would not entail the large expense of relocating it.

 

Question #5

What Pacifica committees have you served on?
Pacifica Economic Development Committee, 2011-2013, including Chair.

Question #6

Are you in favor of Quarry development?

I know that the Quarry is “owned” by a consortium of dentists, doctors, attorneys and other investors managed by Ambit in Pennsylvania.  I am not sure there has been a full-scale marketing of the property.  The website listed on the broker sign either is offline or often does not work.  I understand there have been many “tire – kickers” but no buyers.  Development climate of Pacifica is notoriously adverse, and any one googling “The Quarry” will learn of the past swings at the bat by Don Peebles and others.  The new general plan provides new guidance on the property.  We need to listen to Pacificans here and balance their ideas with the City’s needs for new revenues.  I would hope that any project would feature a visitor serving aspect, such as a hotel that does not conflict with the west Rockaway Beach business / residential district, but complements it.   But right now there is no proposal.  The highway issue is not resolved.  I cannot say that I favor or oppose because I don’t know what sort of thing a private party might bring.  We cannot overwhelm the highway with traffic coming from any use of this site.  Also, the City of Pacifica can probably not afford to buy it as a public park.  Any private use there will bring new revenues to the city in the form of property tax to pay for needed services.   But a substantial constituency would like no development there at all.  The future City Council will decide for all of us, what is best for the City as a whole.  Whatever happens there, it should and will be a collaboration between many stakeholders.    

 

Question #7

I like the idea of building more business office center like the Crespi Business Center. Why not one in Linda Mar? Have you ever thought of that? What about one in each shopping center to attract more business to the shops there?

Crespi Business Center is a mixed use project that includes a restaurant, offices and light industrial.  So what you are asking is that all of those uses be incorporated into all of the shopping centers?  I’m not sure that is going to work out, particularly for the light industrial uses which have noise or fumes.  Linda Mar Center already has some restaurants and some professional office space, namely the dentist.  Formerly real estate, insurance and other offices were there.  Pacifica needs to keep talking to KIMCO about their leasing program.  Since Pacifica has a vibrant arts community, perhaps they could follow Eureka Square in sponsoring a “pop up” art gallery.  During 2012, I brought KIMCO to the table with Pacifica to discuss issues and plan for entreprenuership events, and the Chamber of Commerce was invited to that meeting.

During 2012, I advocated Small Business Incubators and “Work Space”….places where solo entrepreneurs could enjoy office services, the company and companionship atmosphere of fellow business people, without the cost of renting a larger office or work place.  During 2012 and 2013, the Economic Development Committee sponsored entrepreneurship and business education events.  We took a list of people interested in sharing a work – space, but there were not enough who signed up and we were unable to make it happen.  There is a cost associated for the City to try to start up something like this.  My belief is that if private individuals or the shopping center management itself do not want to start these, the city has no business trying to sponsor them.  

Question #8

Regarding sewer fees, in 2012, the five year plan was approved by the City. In 2013 – 2017, there was an increase of 17%, a proposed increase of 16% in the years 2018-2022 and a proposed increase of 11% in the years 2023 – 2027. This equates to an increase of 44% in 10 years! Property owners in our City simply cannot afford such fees. Do you have a solution?

Also, I have a notice of a rate hearing in May 2012 that states “Sewer service proceeds may not be used by the City for any other purpose.” Yet the Pacifica Tribune reports that the City will borrow the funds. Is this legal?

In my canvassing of over 1700 homes, so far, the top complaint I hear is about the Sewer Tax and it’s administration.  Seniors and those on fixed incomes cannot afford.  I have written for the need to begin an Administrative Appeals Board for those who do not agree with the basis of their Sewer Assessments.  

I believe that the massive planned increase may result in a full insurrection here.  I would expect and support a ballot initiative, here in Pacifica, to cap or limit Sewer Tax increases to 2% a year, following Proposition 13 limits.  The City needs to figure out how to find the balance over and above that 2% annual increase.  

A good idea, said before and said again, is to foster Economic Development here, starting with City properties that are unused or underutilized, as soon as possible, so that private buyers can pay and develop more property taxes, transient occupancy taxes and sales taxes for our City.  “Smart Growth” of privately owned “infill” parcels, with environmentally sensitive projects will also help.  Helping existing businesses here thrive and expand, any way we possibly can, won’t hurt either.

 

 

Pacifica Tribune 2014 Candidate Questions

Victor Spano

Why are you running for office?

I live in Fairmont with my wife Carmen and my son, John, a fourth grader at Cabrillo. I first thought of running for office long ago when working at Daly City City Hall during the 1990s.I was first inspired by Mike Guingona. Here was a young guy, young as me, running for office, winning and making a difference. I recently wrapped up a long career as a municipal employee. I know what municipal employees are going through, and now I want to make a difference on the Council side of things. As I lived in Broadmoor until 2007, I could not run for any council. But soon after I bought my house here in Pacifica, I noticed all the vacant storefronts and wanted to apply my expertise in economic development, so I volunteered to help out and was appointed to the Economic Development Committee, which I served on between 2011-2013, including as chair. I floated some trial balloons discussing the possibility of running with some EDC members. Len Stone and Mary Ann Nihart encouraged me to run, Sue Digre signed my nominating petition, and in November 2012, I did not do too badly for an unknown, coming in second, or actually statistically tying with Rich Campbell. I was encouraged by some business people to try again in 2014, and here I am.

I made an offer on the Beach Boulevard site earlier this year on behalf of an overseas investment group to do the program — hotel, townhouses, retail, restaurant, vetted by the neighborhood, but the city was not ready. I want the city to jump start the Beach Boulevard project, with or without a library. Like many in town, I want to preserve library services in the south part of town. While many are gung-ho about a new $35 million library, I’m more concerned about the condition of our two fire stations (said to be seismically questionable,) as well as issues brought to my attention regarding the North County Fire Authority by some former employees. A second dog park for north part of town and a new bike/skateboard park near Park Mall or Frontierland would work for me too. I wrote the letter to the editor regarding Council Member Mike O’Neill’s slide show about capital improvement projects and how the northeast parts of town were “left out.” I am hoping those living in the northeast part of town will come out and support representation or better representation for their neighborhoods by voting for me. While the folks down the hill argue about Highway One, I want to shift some attention to Skyline Boulevard and get the Council to request Caltrans do a feasibility study for improving that road. As for Highway One, I believe the road should be improved; however, if there are attributes that can be changed beforehand, let’s look at them. I’m open minded.

Is this your first political office?

Yes

What’s your profession?

Retired Economic Development Coordinator.

Are you involved with any local organizations?

President Elect of Pacifica Rotary and Contest Chair for Fog Fest Organizing Group, member, Pacifica Chamber of Commerce. I want to get more involved with Fairmont Subdivisions Improvement Association in the future.

Aspiring Entrepreneurs Mixer

Pacifica Aspiring Entrepreneur Mixer – Open a Shop In Pacifica

Pacifica Aspiring Entrepreneur Mixer - Open a Shop In Pacifica

Have you thought about opening a shop in Pacifica?  Are you already planning but don’t know your next step?  Do you already own a business and want to network?  The Pacifica Economic Development Committee, Kimco Realty Corporation, the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Small Business Administration and First National Bank of Northern California are presenting Pacifica’s First “Aspiring Entrepreneur Mixer : Open a Shop In Pacifica!” event.  Light Refreshments will be served.  For questions, contact Victor Spano :  pacificaopportunities@gmail.com
Location: 1367 Linda Mar Shopping Center next to BofA and Metro PCS
Agenda is as follows:
Opening Remarks: Pacifica Economic Development Committeee
KIMCO Keys Program:  Rick Turner, Director, Kimco Realty Corporation
U.S. Small Business Administraton Programs:  John Quinn, U.S. Small Business Administration
First National Bank of Northern California, Tom McGraw, CEO and Cassandra Monteith, Vice President
Proposed Small Business Incubator and Mentoring Program:  Pacifica Chamber of Commerce and Pacifica Economic Development Committee
Networking

Renaissance Comes to Pacifica

Small business training and

support for current and aspiring

Pacifica business owners

POSTED:   07/02/2013 05:07:43 PM PDT0 COMMENTS| UPDATED:   ABOUT A YEAR AGO

The City of Pacifica’s Economic Development Committee is partnering with the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce and the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, a 25-year old, San Francisco Bay Area 501(c)3 non-profit organization to bring a classroom-based, client-focused small business development program to Pacifica. The program kicks off with a “Launch Your Successful Business” orientation offered at the Oceana Art Gallery in Eureka Square on July 17 between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Refreshments will be generously donated by Oceana Market. The Renaissance program is supported by a grant from the County of San Mateo. This outreach is directed at Pacifica residents, but residents from Montara and points south will be also welcome.

 This effort is the most recent by the City to support the business community and aspiring entrepreneurs of Pacifica. Last January, the Economic Development Committee sponsored an “Aspiring Entrepreneurs Mixer” at Linda Mar Shopping Center, which featured presentations by KIMCO Realty, First National Bank of Northern California, the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Administration.

“Technical assistance is fundamental to starting or growing a successful enterprise, particularly in a challenging economy,” said Victor Spano, Economic Development Committee Chairman. “We are very happy that Renaissance will do a direct outreach here in Pacifica, and possibly hold more classes here for our existing and new businesses. Their program is award-winning.”

Renaissance has in the past assisted clients from Pacifica. Waven Dean Fernandes, a Chamber of Commerce member, will be Pacifica’s Renaissance Business Development Consultant.

The classroom-based model Renaissance utilizes at its headquarters and satellite locations, including Daly City and a recently launched online program, has an established track record of success. Participants receive foundational knowledge about business and are encouraged to develop ideas along with peers and high-qualified instructors. A class schedule will be developed for Pacifica if there are sufficient numbers of persons interested; otherwise, Pacifica residents are welcome to attend classes to be held in Daly City during the coming months.

New clients and those that complete the program are entitled to an intake assessment and limited one-on-one business consulting. These sessions are intended to help those interested to learn more about the program offerings and implement their action or business plans.

All classes offered by Renaissance are open to the public and free to individuals who may qualify based on income.

The Oceana Art Gallery is located at 150 Eureka Square Shopping Center. To R.S.V.P. or for more information about the orientation or the Renaissance Pacifica program, please call Victor Spano at (650) 219-8038 or visit www.rencenter.org

Letter to the Editor : Sell City Properties

Pacifica Tribune/Letters to the Editor, 7/1/14.  “Sell city-owned properties to erase deficit.” by Victor Spano

“Editor: According to City Manager, we have a $4 million deficit. The city of Pacifica is holding on to three properties which could quickly erase the deficit.

Long ago, I was a licensed commercial real estate appraiser down in the South Bay. I believe Beach Boulevard and the old wastewater treatment plant is worth $3 to $3.5 million “as is.” The corporation yard could sell for about $1-1.5 million. The seldom used Francisco Boulevard parking plot could sell for $500,000 to $1 million.

All together the three properties could realize $4.5 -$6 million. That is enough to pay off the debts, and fund community services, such as the Beach Coalition, Resource Center and the Chamber. 

Simply putting these three properties into private hands at these prices would generate a five figure annual property tax stream for Pacifica. If the new owner(s) were to develop them, even more property taxes could be brought in. Now as city properties, they are generating nothing. There are better places for the corporation yard in town.

All three of the properties happen to be ideal hotel or retail sites, so sales and transient occupancy taxes are possible. It’s high time for the city to get out of the property management and real estate development business. Now is the best time to sell, the real estate market is at all time highs and there is a lot of interest out there for great development sites such as these.

Letter to the Editor : Fairmont Stepchild

Fairmont stepchild

Editor:

During the past few months, Mike O’Neill has been taking his Capital Improvements Projects Lecture and Powerpoint Presentation to various groups and organizations, of which I attended the Chamber lunch. Mike is to be applauded and commended for providing this valuable information (with some good humor) and I hope that he and others on the Council can continue to keep us posted in the future with such informative presentations.

What is astonishing to me, though, is that none of the projects are in my neighborhood, Fairmont, Westview or other Skyline neighborhoods. I pose the question to our council members: What about Skyline Boulevard, it could stand for some improvements, it is often congested, bumper to bumper between Manor and Hickey during commute hours?. There have been a number of collisions at the Hickey / Skyline intersection, including a fatal pedestrian strike. Skyline is Caltrans bailiwick, but could Pacifica be proactive with neighboring jurisdictions to work with Caltrans on looking at improving Skyline Boulevard?. One of the candidates in the last council election talked about a sound wall to help those residents living on Gateway last fall, and I agree with him, that’s a great idea for Skyline — attractively designed soundwall(s) would benefit the neighbors of that freeway (north of Hickey) and two lane road (south of Hickey).

Gateway / Hickey might benefit from a signal. Could this be studied?

Hickey / Skyline and Manor / Skyline are gateways to Pacifica, some attractive landscaping and more prominent signage might boost the area’s identify as part of Pacifica, Fairmont is often confused as a part of Daly City and blends in well with Daly City due to the architectural styles.

Imperial Park, also located in Fairmont neighborhood, is in need of help and could be improved.

Why are the benefits of capital improvements only located and benefitting the areas of Pacifica down the hill?. This town is more than those areas Can a more “City-wide approach” to capital project planning be implemented so that all neighborhoods may benefit evenly from Capital Improvement Projects? One of my elder neighbors, an original Fairmont owner observed, I am paraphrasing, “Fairmont is the unwanted stepchild of Pacifica.” Perhaps he was being melodramatic, but I kind of get this feeling too..

Victor Spano

Fairmont

Letter to the Editor : Maverick’s

My Turn Column: Let’s adopt

Mavericks

Updated:   02/11/2014 05:04:34 PM PST

Let’s go Pacifica! We have a world class event on our door-step but we do not participate.

Every year the Mavericks Surfing Festival brings tens of thousands of visitors to the coast. The visitors pass through Pacifica and head down Highway 1. On the way, they spend a lot of money on food at restaurants, room nights at hotels and other services south of Pacifica — in Montara, Half Moon Bay, Moss Beach, El Granada and Princeton. Many, including myself have wondered, “How can Pacifica capture the excitement and spending power that Mavericks attracts?”

Our hotels and restaurants could coordinate with each other to advertise in surfing publications and websites to make the surfing community inside and outside of California who might travel here to witness the event more aware of Pacifica as a surfing destination. Let’s tie in our art galleries and history museum. Surf-related shows could be assembled and quality artwork is always of interest to visitors. Could a surfing film festival be held at Terra Nova Theater, showing the many great surfing films, such as “Men who Ride Giants.” or “Chasing Mavericks”? Could the Mavericks event be televised to Terra Nova Theater on a big high definition screen for a viewing event? I can think of at least a dozen restaurants and bars who could host viewing events on short notices.A simple banner sign on one of our Highway 1 bridges that says, “Welcome Mavericks Fans to Scenic Pacifica, Stop here for a bite” would not hurt.

Since visitors can no longer access the Mavericks’ site because of safety concerns, all public participation has been off site in south coast hotels and bars. All the media reports showed the celebration kicking off at 7:30 a.m. and running all day. Bands, dining, watching the heats, shopping. Tents were set up, and patios expanded. All the media reports said folks had a blast and mentioned all the venues. But Pacifica was not mentioned. The waves will return in 2015. Pacifica has to step up to become a partner in this ideal tourist and coastside focused event.

Victor Spano is the former chair of the Pacifica Economic Development Committee and is currently a member of the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce, Fog Fest Organizing Group and Rotary Club. He can be reached at pacificaopportunities@gmail.com

Reform Sewer Tax Ad – October 2014

Reform Pacifica’s Sewer Tax”   (center bold largest font)

by Victor Spano  (center bold largest font)
Candidate for Pacifica City Council

In my travels around Pacifica as candidate for your City Council, the most frequent issue and complaint I’ve encountered is the sewer tax.  Two recent letters and an article to the Tribune with complaints about sewer tax assessment underline the need to look at and reform the sewer tax. Proposition 13 was passed to keep seniors in their homes and protect them from tax increases. However, the sewer assessment is immune to the 2% annual Proposition 13 limit. Some seniors on fixed incomes, as well as families with low and very low incomes are suffering.
Council recently approved rate increases.  Because we have lost trust, we wonder if what is collected actually runs and maintains the sewer system, or pays salaries for other departments or other expenses?
One individual at City Hall responds to public inquiries about their assessments.  While this has worked, this is perceived by me as an incredible responsibility for one person, and an incredible amount of power.
I propose the creation of an Administrative Appeals Board, which would include the current staff member from Finance Department, an appointed resident, a councilmember (on a rotating basis), and perhaps the soon to be hired Assistant City Manager.  It would meet once a month to review and act on citizen complaints regarding the sewer bills, where the resident disagrees with the Finance Department.  It would be empowered to interpret the cities ordinances to provide relief in some situations, with a final level of appellate review by the City Council.  Such Appeals Boards often are used in Code Enforcement, I believe such a board for the sewer tax bills would be fruitful here in Pacifica.