Local Government Committee passes AB1991—next stop: Appropriations Committee

Updated

Posted by
Wed, April 30, 2008


Montara Fog
Montara Fog now has videos of the hearing. Click the picture to watch them.

Correction: an earlier version of this story said it was headed to the Assembly floor.

By a vote of 4-to-2 the Assembly Local Government committee has voted to pass AB 1991 out of committee.  It now heads to the appropriations Committee, according to the Assembly member Gene Mullin’s office.


Thing are looking up for AB1991, as well as land owners not being bullied by environmental agencies banding together outside of their edicts.

If it were “outside their edicts” as you claim, then AB 1991 wouldn’t be needed now, would it?

Comment 3
Wed, April 30, 2008 10:00pm
Ken King
All my comments

If Assemblymember Anna Caballero, chair of the Local Government Committee, had voted against the bill, that would have killed it right there; her words in saying she was going to vote to let it out of committee, but that she was deeply troubled by it and could not guarantee she would vote for it on the Assembly floor should concern would-be early celebrants about AB 1991’s prospects. Caballero also told Mullin that he’d better plan to compromise with the environmental groups for it to have any hope of passage.

The problem is, of course, that the settlement agreement doesn’t have any room for compromise in it, and since the city already threw away its only leverage, the right to appeal, that just means a lot of additional lawyers’ expenses tweaking this thing before it dies on the vine anyway. This is a truly sad state of affairs.

Some observations from the video:

Mayor Bonnie McClung claimed to be an “environmentalist” and in the same breath claimed that AB 1991 “will not undermine environmental laws.”  Oh I get it, by “exempting” Beachwood/Glencree from all state environmental laws they are not actually “undermining” those laws. Dear Madam Mayor, please check in with reality.

Vice Mayor John Muller claimed that Beachwood/Glencree “would not harm the environment.” Then why does Beachwood need an exemption from state laws that are in place to make sure that it would not harm the environment?  Answer: because Beachwwod really would harm the environment.

Later, Muller claimed that if the City took ownership of Beachwood by paying Keenan $18 million, the land would be essentially worthless. He claimed that land he himself farms across Hwy 1 would also be worthless for housing. Dear Mr. Vice Mayor, maybe that’s because your land is zoned for agriculture whereas Beachwood is zoned for residential. Assemblywoman Soldana caught Muller in this distortion. (As aside, I am wondering why Muller was not required to recuse himself from the Beachwood negotiations since he has an economic interest in close proximity.)

Local police union representative Officer A.J. Johnson was at least being honest when he admitted that “The City will be able to pay $18 million” to Keenan if necessary. But then he lamented that such an action would prevent the City from being able to “keep expanding public safety services.” For crying out loud, how much more money does the union want for the police department’s budget? Spending on police went from $2.7 million per year in 2001-2002 to nearly $5 million per year today.  The police department already gobbles-up nearly 50 percent of the City’s entire $10 million annual budget. And they want to expand even more? This is why paying $18 million is considered such a hardship?

In response to a smart question by Assemblywoman Caballaro, lawyer Anne Mudge (hired by Keenan) was incapable of explaining why an initial step in the environmental review process (the granting of a vesting tentative map way back in 1990) would somehow endow Beachwood with the right to avoid going through the standard environmental review required of every other coastal development project. Mudge described AB 1991 as “a belt and suspenders move to prevent the project from going through the washing machine.”  (I’m not making that up. Perhaps it’s a technical term she learned in law school). Coastal Commission Legislative Director Sarah Christie then provided a very clear explanation of the truth: Beachwood has never gone through the full permitting process required by law—-in contrast to what Gene Mullin, Lanny Davis, and the HMB City Council have been going around claiming.

Later, Mudge gushed in agreement when Republican Assemblyman Guy Houston threw her a bone and said “all we’re doing is locking in the rules from 1990 right?” Actually no, we’re also ignoring the rules from 1990. All of these state environmental laws were in place back in 1990.

Assemblywoman Galgiani also asked a smart question. “Why did the HMB City Council agree to such a large expenditure of $18 million without seeking voter consent?” Probably because the arrogant HMB City Council believed they could avoid paying $18 million by trampling over every state environmental law on the books. They routinely ignore laws at the local level, so why not try the same thing at the state level too? Galgiani later voted Yes but she was participating at the special request of termed-out Speaker Nunez. She replaced Assemblyman DeSaulnier who stated that he likely would have voted No on the bill (see link below).

http://www.capitolweekly.net/article.php?issueId=x2g41snhsjkbaa&xid=x30pwa3z6w0dyj&_adctlid=v|jq2q43wvsl855o|x31if5gbzhw3rn

Lastly, both McClung and Mullin claimed that the $18 million settlement amount would “devastate” the City’s budget while failing to mention that it was the City Council itself that agreed to that figure, presumably after doing its legally-required due diligence. This brings to mind the old story of the guy who murders his parents and then begs the court for mercy because he is an orphan.

Kevin wrote: “Lastly, both McClung and Mullin claimed that the $18 million settlement amount would “devastate” the City’s budget while failing to mention that it was the City Council itself that agreed to that figure, presumably after doing its legally-required due diligence. This brings to mind the old story of the guy who murders his parents and then begs the court for mercy because he is an orphan.”

Thank you, Kevin, for putting this idiotic situation in perspective. If I still owned a home in Half Moon Bay (which I did for 28 years), I would be looking for ways to sue the Gang of Four, which took a bad situation and made it worse; i.e., impossible to resolve without breaking either my pocketbook or my values.

I’ve heard people talking about recall. Great idea, but it just doesn’t do it. It lets them off the hook.

Janet

“‘Why did the HMB City Council agree to such a large expenditure of $18 million without seeking voter consent?’ Probably because the arrogant HMB City Council believed they could avoid paying $18 million by trampling over every state environmental law on the books.”

Wouldn’t the more simple answer be, “Because they could”?

I thought Pete Price and Sarah Christie were particularly concise and well-spoken—clear on the matter of precedent for all of California. Christie was especially impressive in her direct, factual answers and points in the back and forth questioning. She had obviously done her homework. It’s a shame it’s more about politics than anything else in Sacramento.

Carl May

Quote of the Day:
“Which is why we need this legislative relief.”
*Anne Mudge
The belt-and-suspenders phrase was noteworthy too, but this “legislative relief” comment is a two-word summary of: We need a legislative workaround to the laws and conditions that this property, wetlands or not, would be audited against, and was audited against.

Separately:  Mike F.: hope you didn’t incur much pain pulling those daggers out of your back, inflicted upon you by Madam Mayor while you spoke about the price of lots and utilities.

Proposing AB 1991 makes no sense to me, so I watched these three video segments with an open mind, attempting to understand the proponents’ view.  Thank you Darrin for having taken the time to post these videos.  Assemblymember Lieber makes too much sense in her line of questioning of the CDP history and the land’s possible value.  Her questions were not clearly answered by the proponents of AB 1991, but they were objectively answered by the opponents.

A bit more background on Chop Keenan’s hired lawyer Anne “belt & suspenders” Mudge

http://www.coxcastle.com/lawyers/bio.cfm?type=desc&attorneyID=180

Interestingly, she was the Chair of the Planning Commission for the City of Oakland in 2006-2007.

Keenan and the HMB City Council would like nothing better than to make this place look more like Oakland in terms of housing density. They and their friends could make lots of money in the process.

Its good to see that the City has a very professional law firm with good PR expertise helping them get out of this unfortunate situation.

Looks like the first round was won by the citizens of HMB.  But its too early to start popping the champagne cork yet because the opposition is so well funded and organized.

To those who think Keenan is making lots of money,  I’m sure there are easier ways.  This like so many other projects here are 10-20 year battles with millions spent on lawyers and endless studies.  Should this project get built,  it will take years to complete and many more millions spent in the process.  Quite the contrary, trying to do business in HMB is a hard way to make a buck.

And should this bill fail to pass,  paying $18 million,  while a staggering amount of money,  is better than paying out $50 million.  The appeal was not a certainty as Judge Walker’s decision shows.

On to round 2.

Always the city’s apologist, aren’t you Steve? I love your spin that those opposing HMB’s development conspiracy are well funded. You’re telling it backwards - Orick et al has our blank check to pull out all of the stops for AB 1991. The enviros fight it gratis (that’s free, Steve) to preserve California’s environmental laws.

Let’s have truthful disclosure, Steve, that Orick sold this strategy to the city so it will make million$: no wonder Bonnie McClung dodges reporter questions about the cost of this campaign.

I do feel that the opposition is well funded,  well organized and very savvy.  Its good to see that City was able to hire a group that will make this somewhat even.

Of course Orick has a strategy.  Otherwise they wouldn’t have been hired.  Its true that in most of these situations the lawyers are always the ones who make out,  win or loose.  Wish I could work that way.

“But its too early to start popping the champagne cork yet because the opposition is so well funded and organized.”

Most of the opposition to AB 1991 is not even allowed to spend more than a small amount on trying to influence legislation.

The opposition to AB 1991, as shown in the listed groups for and against the bill, is very poorly funded compared to the rich interests in favor of it. A person simply cannot make such a statement and know anything about the groups and constituencies involved. I haven’t done it, but it would be an interesting exercise to add up the paid lobbyists for those in favor and those against.

What is more, the few bigger environmental groups listed against the bill are spread thin over multiple issue areas nationally, whereas the groups favoring it are mostly concentrated on making money out of real property. The money is on the side of the developers, and they are the side that favors AB 1991. One wonders if people making statements about “well-funded” environemntalists have the first clue what the budgets of such organizations are like. For those not familiar with where to look for such information, Guidestar is a start.

In their fervor for obtaining wealth, anti-environment people seldom bother to reflect on the fact that those trying to prevent the trashing of our surroundings have nothing to gain financially, whereas those who favor environmental degradation alost always do it for the money to be made.

Carl May

Looks like the first round of the housing market decline was won by the citizens who didn’t listen to all the glad-handing realtors who tried to sell them houses they couldn’t afford. But its too early to start popping the champagne cork yet for lower sales commissions because the opposition is led by the National Association of Realtors which is so well funded and organized.

Now I don’t really mean that of course. But you see how easy it is to construct an aggressive comment that is designed to provoke or annoy. Right Steve?

I have observed over the years how well organized these groups are in championing their positions.  Whether or not they have tons of money,  they do seem to have the ears of many legislators.

Maybe what we are seeing here with this bill is that the proponents are well organized too.  And who knows,  perhaps Mr. Davis can even persuade his former boss to come out here to save HMB.  That would be very cool to see Bill out here on the stump.

And Kevin’s wish is starting to come true because our commissions are down as we are selling many of the distressed homes in the lower price points.  These homes are going now for less than people paid 1-2 years ago.

But in all seriousness,  its so sad to see massive amounts of money and time being wasted on this infill parcel. The attorney fees alone already have exceeded the value of the land.

Steve,

Have you ever considered that “these groups” have the law on their side? That the number of Californians concerned about the adverse effects of excessive development is growing? Both explain the influence anti-AB 1991 groups have on legislators.

The anti-AB 1991 side is asking for the law to be applied equally and uniformly. The pro-AB 1991 side is seeking to exchange exemptions to the law for a select few that will benefit monetarily or politically or both.

I prefer laws that treat folks equally, especially when the application of those laws cause elected officials to be held accountable.

I would be more inclined to support AB 1991 if it sought exemptions in exchange for, say, a 30-year moratorium on all development in HMB and de-certification of their LCP.

The City of HMB is in a tough spot with poor options.  One is bad and the other is worse.  But that’s the price you pay when you litigate things to death.  And the City lost. 

Despite the popular opinion here,  settling was the smart choice. And now the Judge’s decision is settled law.  Hopefully now other cities will learn from our mistakes and tread more carefully or they too can stare down the barrel of choking judgments.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out with all the lobbying efforts from both sides. If this bill fails,  HMB is going to have to do some serious belt tightening including cutting legal fees and selling assets before they come to the voters for money.

I also can’t imagine all the vacant land owners are going to agree to a moratorium so this infill lot can be built.  That would end up being a class action lawsuit that would truly be the end of HMB.

As I previously said,  more money so far has been wasted on attorney fees than the land is worth. And if this bill doesn’t pass,  we will have the privilege to pay $18 million for it.

“Hopefully now other cities will learn from our mistakes and tread more carefully or they too can stare down the barrel of choking judgments.”

The best way for HMB—and other cities—to learn from HMB’s mistakes is for AB 1991 to fail.

That will place all of the accountability right where it belongs—with the City of Half Moon Bay.

If the bill fails,  we’ll see where the City finds the $18 million.  That’s the $18 million question that hasn’t been answered yet.

That’s the amount negotiated by the city, so we have to presume it’s an amount HMB is capable of paying.

If the bill fails, as I believe it should, the Commission will likey do everything in its power to help the city develop the lots to the fullest extent allowed by law so they can recover as much of the $18 million as possible.

The Commission clearly has compassion for HMB’s plight, and it would be good public relations for them to apply their knowledge and expertise to help HMB out of their predicament without exempting them from environmental laws.

That would be a great lesson for other coastal communities.

The city has not been honest about the real cost of this settlement so far. The agreement was presented as an either/or scenario, either pass AB 1991 to build 129 homes, with the city collecting fees on 46 of the houses, or pay $18 million dollars with interest to Keenan.

Now we’re learning it is anything but this simple, with the first option including millions of dollars in legal fees the city pays to pass the bill, fight the agencies, clear the Federal permits, etc. versus paying Keenan and buying his option on Glencree, which means the city has yet to negotiate a price with that developer, a price the developer is sure to set above market value because of publicity about its dormant lawsuit threat that would follow Beachwood’s winning formula. The city can’t afford to fact that again under any circumstance.

By throwing away its right to appeal, Half Moon Bay gave legs to Glencree’s blackmail threat, so has no alternative but pay whatever price Glencree’s owner sets.

Instead of $18 million then, there are the several million for attempting, but failing, to pass AB 1991, and the additional millions for purchasing Glencree. And meanwhile, the city is going to have to figure out how to finance all of this while its constituency begins to wake up to the fiscal shenanigans of our supposedly fiduciary stewards.

The crazy thing about all of this is that the old guard and realtors like Steve (I loved that Judy Taylor and others did not identify themselves as real estate agents) who trapsed to Sacramento seem to really believe this is a good deal for the rest of us. I’m starting to wonder if there is the vaguest possibility that they could be right about any of this after all?

Nah! No chance.

“I have observed over the years how well organized these groups are in championing their positions.  Whether or not they have tons of money, they do seem to have the ears of many legislators.”

This so soon after you said they were “well funded”?

Of course they are organized. What citizens have in opposition to wealthy special interests are votes. What their groups have in addition to staff paid for with piddling (in most cases) budgets are volunteers.

So this is how the battle over AB 1991 in Sacramento will continue to shape up—wealthy special interest vs. public interest. The HMB City Council caused this with premature capitulation to their developer buddy in the terms of the settlement. They forced the issue statewide with AB 1991; and any surprise at the growing opposition is either naive or disingenuous. With the high-priced legal team they bought for the cause, one would have to guess disingenuous.

Carl May

I bet the total cost will be closer to $30 million when you add in some other costs.  Who knows how much of the City’s time and expenses with staff, experts has piled up over the past 10+ years.  And we are only talking about Beachwood.  Go add to that monies spent on N Wavecrest and Pacific Ridge and you are really talking about some serious money.

The next few years are going to be so interesting watching this play out.  Ken, you Kevin and I will become such good buddies as this drama unfolds.  We actually agree on a few things already even though we’re approaching it from different sides.

As I said in the Review,  anybody who thought living in a small town was boring doesn’t know HMB.

The Beachwood mess began 25 years ago, not ten years ago.

Whatever it costs now that the millions are piling up quickly, the current City Council bought into it. Now the myopic fools want to extend the negative effects of their missteps far beyond the city limits and have even been so crass in their arguments as to suggest outsiders who object to AB 1991 should help pay for the alternative.

The piss-ant city is boring to me. I happily forget the place when it is not forcing itself into my business. I wouldn’t be commenting and don’t really care what happens to it as a result of its Beachwood bumbling except for the burden on the rest of us on the midcoast and throughout California—worse traffic, weakening of already inadequate environmental protections, more overpopulation, etc. Our distinctly separate unincorporated communities to the north have long endured the foibles of over-reaching HMB government and its pet property exploiters. Let the citizens of HMB suffer for the people they put into office. Maybe they’ll wake up and do better next time (yes, I’m joking).

Carl May

Steve wrote: “I have observed over the years how well organized these groups are in championing their positions.”

And that doesn’t even touch it… it was never more apparent when Barry was able to blast dozens of organizational symbols supporting the anti-AB stance. Then when I saw someone from Clear Air whatever speak out in Sacramento against it… I am continually convinced these “organizations” ... (some of which need to fold and consolidate for taxation/revenue purposes (sepearte thread)) just band together and rub each other’s backs in order to show opposition en force. Was waiting for Code Pink to make some cameo at the meeting in Sacto.

Makes more sense to stop housing here ... an already low pollution area with great natural ventilation, and let them “eat pollution cake” in the East Bay hills where gorgeous rolling golden hills are fair game [hypocrites] and pollution is highest in the bay area, since that’s the bastion for housing supply, where it’s a non-issue. Quite NIMBY, ...send the dirty air elsewhere.

Do you have a problem with Americans freely associating with one another to promote their common point of view? According to the US Constitution, we do.

Do we have a right to decry suspending environmental laws in return for cash? Of course we do. The resources being protected are those on state lands. No private property owner within the Coastal Zone has the right to develop in a way that adversely affects those resources.

Not sure where you’re going with that “eating pollution cake in the East Bay hills” comment.

Steve Hyman wrote:

“If the bill fails, we’ll see where the City finds the $18 million.  That’s the $18 million question that hasn’t been answered yet.”

The City Council already answered that question Steve—in their due diligence analysis of the settlement agreement. If they didn’t answer it, then the City Council is guilty of gross negligence.

Mayor Bonnie McClung is deceiving people by going around making statements that imply the City can’t pay $18 million. As I have said before, if the City really can’t pay $18 million, then McClung and the others should be prosecuted.
 
At the AB 1991 hearing Officer A.J. Johnson admitted that the City could pay $18 million—-but it would mean that the City couldn’t keep expanding spending on police services to the tune of about 15 percent growth per year.

Nearly 50 percent of HMB’s annual budget is already spent on police. The City of Vallejo, which is on the brink of bankruptcy spends 74 percent of its budget on police AND fire. So if you take out the spending on fire for comparison, HMB is probably pretty close to Vallejo on police spending as a fraction of the City’s budget. Not a good thing.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/05/03/MNIJ10FV5N.DTL&hw=vallejo+bankruptcy&sn=003&sc=207

Kevin Lansing,

Vallejo will file for Chapter 9 protection. They voted last night.

HMB next?

Ken Johnson

Really don’t know enough about the City’s expenditure on Police to voice an opinion other than anything that represents such a large percent of the budget showed be carefully examined.  There are also other areas that can stand some cutbacks.  Hopefully a less litigious City Council will allow us to trim that budget item significantly without causing any harm except to the outside lawyers.

And lets not forget that the City has millions of dollars of real estate that can be sold.  Cities do this all the time.  We sold a HWY 1 lot recently and the Harbor District is selling the Burnham Strip. Eventually the City will be able to sell Beachwood to another developer and recoup a small portion of their purchase price. These are examples of non-performing assets that will be better used by others and raise cash too.

Bankruptcy is an irresponsible way to settle ones obligations.  And its not needed either.  There’s plenty of money here.

But let’s hope AB 1991 passes so we don’t have to face these bleak alternatives.  Maybe Lanny Davis can have his friend Bill come out here and twist some more arms in Sacramento.  I understand he’s going to have more free time soon.

Steven Hyman wrote:
“Really don’t know enough about the City’s expenditure on Police to voice an opinion other than anything that represents such a large percent of the budget showed be carefully examined.”

For some details, background, and discussion on the police department portion of the HMB budget, you might find this useful as a starting point:

https://coastsider.com/index.php/site/news/is_the_hmb_police_budget_out_of_line/

APPROPRIATIONS Committee
HEARING DATE   :  05/14/2008

Ken Johnson

The hearing is now scheduled for May 22.  I believe this is the last possible date for a hearing for this particular bill.

Steve Hyman wrote “This like so many other projects here are 10-20 year battles with millions spent on lawyers and endless studies.”

I propose the following rule of thumb:  If you need to hire lawyers to ramrod a project through, maybe the project shouldn’t be built in the first place.  What fraction of the total number of projects built require lawyers?  It’s a vanishingly small percent.

Later, Steve wrote “But in all seriousness, its so sad to see massive amounts of money and time being wasted on this infill parcel.”  It’s only infill due to earlier leapfrog development which likely trampled other sensitive areas.  So Steve’s “infill” argument devolves to simply “we’ve already ruined most of the land in the area, so let’s just complete the destruction.”  “The attorney fees alone already have exceeded the value of the land.”  Thank you very much Steve for demonstrating how outrageous the judgment is.  At worst, the City should have been required to pay Keenan the value of the land, which you’ve just put some upper limit on, far below even the $18M.

Its a sad commentary about doing business on the Coast that people feel the need to get permit consultants and attorneys to try and get things accomplished in a reasonable time period.  The permit process for both the County and City have gotten out of hand and the process has become abusive, expensive and takes too long.

Its critical for large projects to hire these consultants.  Unfortunately,  the little person who just wants to build their dream house doesn’t have the resources to hire these people and is abused by the system.  This is what I call permit hell.

Personally,  this infill parcel looks out of place with homes surrounding it,  HWY 1, McDonalds and a sewer plant.  This isn’t like someone trying to put 500 condos at Ano Nuevo!

And as far as the size of the judgment and settlement goes,  that’s the price to be paid when peoples’ property rights are trampled.

It would be interesting if someone ever did a full accounting on what Beachwood really cost us.  Besides the $18 million settlement,  there’s the $5 million on HMB’s legal fees.  The other question is how much of other City services, fees, experts and employee costs were spent.  That’s got to be a few million more.  So when all is said and done,  this sacred piece of wetlands probably cost the community $25-30 million,  which grossly exceeds the market value.  What a incredible waste of our money and time.  Its very sad and will hopefully we will never see this repeated.

Steven,

Do you know anything about developing within the coastal zone? About the Coastal Commission? About the coastal resources they’re charged with protecting?

Judging by your comments, it seems you need to become much more familiar with the various environmental laws and processes used to enforce them. ONce you do, you’ll see the permitting process isn’t as onerous as you make it out to be for the “little guy.”

It’s the big developers that need consultants and lawyers to push the limits of the Coastal Act, and whenever and wherever possible, to exceed those limits.

I unfortunately have seen too many projects endlessly appealed to the Coastal Commission which perhaps explains my views.  I resent that things get dragged out for years, if not decades.

It would be great if the loser had to pay the owner’s expenses like attorney fees and interest.  That would cut down on the frivolous appeals that go on here.

The only positive thing I can say about the judgment and settlement is that this is the beginning of a more moderate approach to development.  Maybe the staggering amount of money being paid will be a wake up call that endless litigation has its painful limits.

Property owners have rights too.  And hopefully,  they will have more rights soon.

I’m sure that’s not what you want to hear but there are many people besides me who feel this way also.

I have said for years that this place has been run by the loud minority.  Its time for the silent majority to take our town back. And I think you are starting to see that.

It’s important to point out the non-sequitur: 

“I unfortunately have seen too many projects endlessly appealed to the Coastal Commission which perhaps explains my views.  I resent that things get dragged out for years, if not decades.”

The truth is that Beachwood has been a <u>City of Half Moon Bay</u> problem that has dragged on for years, not an endless California Coastal Commission appeal.

Steven,

You’re all over the map with your reply, but you answered my questions satisfactorily—you don’t know enough about developing within the Coastal Zone, and you don’t know enough about the Coastal Commission or the Coastal Act.

May I recommend you spend more time learning about the process than lamenting it?

A good way to start is to sit through a Coastal Commission meeting at least once. Their next meeting is in Santa Rosa June 11-13th.

Everybody’s entitled to their opinion but you don’t have a clue as to what I know.

Suffice it to say,  having lived here for 25 years and being involved in real estate for over 20 years,  I have seen how this place has developed. Observing the progression (or stone walling) of many projects gives me the views I have.

Land owners have been relegated to second class citizens here.  Hopefully,  this is the beginning of a long overdue change.

SHyman: “ts a sad commentary about doing business on the Coast that people feel the need to get permit consultants and attorneys to try and get things accomplished in a reasonable time period.  The permit process for both the County and City have gotten out of hand and the process has become abusive, expensive and takes too long.

Its critical for large projects to hire these consultants.  Unfortunately, the little person who just wants to build their dream house doesn’t have the resources to hire these people and is abused by the system.  This is what I call permit hell.”

We built a house not long ago and had a rather different experience. I suspect it’s because we employed a rather sneaky ruse to get past your permit hell. I’ll explain the trick, and you should feel free to pass the tip on to your <strike>marks</strike> clients.

My wife, acting as our general contractor, talked to the permit-issuing agencies, explaining what we wanted to do. They in turn explained the regulatory requirements, which we followed.

No snags, no delays. (Except for HMB Fire, where we got some rather contradictory advice; I attribute that to their rather high rate of personnel turnover. And it worked out in the end anyway.)

I suppose you might equate compliance with hell, but it has real advantages. Give it a try sometime.

Steven,

I’m sorry you took my post that way.

Judging by your comments on this thread, you would benefit by learning more about the Coastal Act. I believe that knowledge would benefit your clients, too.

You can have a far greater impact in 3 minutes before the Commission (they have daily public comment sessions) than at any other public agency. But you need to know the Coastal Act to be effective.

There may be better ways for you to learn about the Coastal Act on your own, but I believe the best place to start is by attending a Commission hearing.

The Commission’s meetings move around. Their June meeting is in Santa Rosa. Their December meeting is in San Francisco. You can find schedules for all their public meetings at their website.

Friday meetings tend to be 1/2 day sessions that deal mostly with the North and North Central Coast.

I’d be happy to with meet you at one of the meetings to share what I know of how they do business. You may not agree with what they do, but you will definitely appreciate knowing more about their purpose and processes.

Steve,

I would like to add to Mr. Lundell’s comment.

Coastal Commission staff can be very helpful to folks that want to build their dream homes within the Coastal Zone, and do it it a manner that conforms to the Coastal Act.

This is especially true of folks that provide the information sought by the Commission in a timely manner, and those that attempt to incorporate some of staff’s recommendations.

The most powerful tools you can have to obtain Commission approval are knowledge of the Coastal Act and staff cooperation. A site map that clearly shows the constraints on your development (setbacks, wetlands, easements, etc) is the best way to acquire the latter.

Scroll down to item F7a of the meeting last Friday:

http://www.coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html

In this case the Commission denied an appeal by 18 neighbors that sought to stop a couple from building their dream home because they were allowed a 50-foot setback from the local creek whereas the neighbors were required to provide a 100-foot setback.

You may be interested in downloading that file to learn why staff recommended denying the appeal (no substantial issue found).

There are many, many stories like these you’ll never hear about from the pro-development community. The Commission doesn’t waste resources on public relations, so you have to dig to find them. But they do exist, and in far greater numbers than you might believe. And most, if not all, of those folks are now proponents of conforming to the Coastal Act.

I’m always open to learning new things and understanding different view points.  I’ll probably take you up on this.  I may just have to heavy up on my blood pressure med so I keep my cool.

And I’m glad to hear that Jonathan’s experience in getting a building permit went smoothly.  You are a lucky man.

I have heard and seen too many instances that were quite different.  And then you add to that some of the cases I have heard from other Realtors,  gives me the views I have.

It now takes almost 1 year to get a permit from the county and the fees have increased significantly.  And on top of that,  they are now adding Green ordinances that will add to the construction costs.

I know you’ll be pleased to know,  that these increased times, fees and building costs are making building the “dream Home” more of a nightmare.  And these delays also makes builders less likely to take a gamble on such a drawn out process.

And BTW,  its insulting to refer to people who buy and sell real estate on the Coast as MARKS.  Several of the posters who share your views here are my clients/friends and I can’t imagine they would take kindly to your poor choice of words.

SHyman: “And BTW, its insulting to refer to people who buy and sell real estate on the Coast as MARKS.  Several of the posters who share your views here are my clients/friends and I can’t imagine they would take kindly to your poor choice of words.”

Steve, have you told a client in 2008 that now is a good time to buy?

Just curious.

“And BTW, its insulting to refer to people who buy and sell real estate on the Coast as MARKS.  Several of the posters who share your views here are my clients/friends and I can’t imagine they would take kindly to your poor choice of words.”

And you, of course, would never dream of insulting natural scientists and those who apply their findings?

Carl May

Steven,

The length of time it takes to review a project within the Coastal Zone is a legitimate complaint. (It takes upwards of 18 months in Sonoma County and maybe a little less in Mendocino County.) But there are better ways to address that problem than eliminating environmental laws or the review process altogether.

For one, review agencies need to be adequately staffed. In my opinion, staff shortages are a real problem in Mendocino County and at the Coastal Commission. Maintaining adequate staff would greatly help the review process.

Timely submittal of items requested by the review agencies would also help. But most developers, especially small developers, are reluctant to pay all the consulting fees needed to obtain the requested information, especially if the costs are unforeseen.

I think more could be done to inform small developers what to expect when they apply for a Coastal Development Permit. Unfortunately, the Coastal Commission and administrators of local coastal plans don’t have the resources to develop and maintain that information.

Say, that leaves an opportunity for someone to write a book ...

I have been telling people and writing in the Review that I think this has been a buyers’ market since late 2005 when things started to cool.

The statistics bear that out.  On the Coast,  you have inventory at near record levels, sales volume has been declining since 2004 (with 2008 turning out to be worse than 2007),  sellers are realistic,  selling time is increasing and mortgage rates are declining.  There are even a growing number of distressed sales,  mostly at the low end,  cause of lax lending with 0 down payments.

But people buy a home cause they need a home.  I think anyone who tries to do it for a flip is asking for trouble.

My crystal ball is pretty good for 6 months out.  After that,  its a crap shoot.

It would be interesting to find out whether the select few that continually voice their opposition to HMB and any sort of improvements in our daily lives here on the coast have any sort of financial interest in this area. It would be intesreting to see if the usual suspects here on this site are still sitting under prop 13 protection and have invested very little (in comparison) to the vast majority that live on the coast. When reading the posts related to this article it seems to me that the usual suspects want HMB to also be under chapter 9 protection, which adds very little weight to their rhetoric. And I truly hope readers can see through this.. It is not about being on the side of developers (or being against developers). It is about having a quality of life that you would expect in this period of our country.

No, AB 1991(Mullin) is not “about having a quality of life that you would expect in this period of our country.”

It’s about suspending state and local environmental laws in exchange for cash and the bad statewide precedent it would set.

And no, I don’t have any real estate interests in HMB. I could care less about the effect its failure to pass would have on HMB.

I’m more concerned about how AB 1991 will be used as a roadmap to circumvent environmental laws in Mendocino County, where I do have real estate interests.

Ray says, “It would be interesting to find out whether the select few that continually voice their opposition to HMB and any sort of improvements in our daily lives here on the coast have any sort of financial interest in this area.”

Is financial interest the only kind that matters?

Francis states: “I could care less about the effect its failure to pass would have on HMB”. Hopefully that statement really highlights to the readers on this site how little merit your opinions are to tbe financial predicament our city is currently in. And all because we have been pressured on how the coastal commission deems what is a wetland, and what is not.

Barry,
My point about financial interest is alluding to the possibility that I might have a financial obligation to pay for 18 million that is on table at the moment. I suspect that you truly may not care about that obligation, but please correct me if I am wrong.

First,  the net obligation isn’t anywhere near $18 million.  That’s what the city council and Chop Keenan want us to think. It’s a lot less.

Second, I think the city council negotiated a bad deal.  Don’t blame me, I didn’t get to vote for your city council.

Third, the decision was outrageous. A damn shame.  Let’s call it the equivalent of a natural disaster, and the city should get some help.

I would have supported a less aggressive settlement.  I now would support some kind of state help for the city in developing/selling Beachwood.  I shouldn’t because the city’s negotiated settlement is a Pandora’s Box filled with nothing but trouble for the state of California.

I totally agree the decision was outrageous. As for negotiating a bad deal.. That might be your opinion but I would tend to rely on actual lawyers for what are our options and what might be the best decision for our city.
As for your comment: “the net obligation isn’t anywhere near $18 million”. Can you clarify this statement? As far as the settlement paperwork and what was agreed by both parties, isn’t it actually $18 million? I know you’ve written another piece about this topic, but that I believe is mostly conjecture on your part, and not what was actually in the settlement. Please clarify.

It’s just dishonest to say that land that can be developed with 19 to 30 or more houses is worthless.

I took my best shot at estimating the value and no one has seen fit to refute it.

Furthermore, the burden of proof should be on the city, not on opponents of AB1991. They have yet to prove the land has no value. They can’t.

Ray,

HMB is in its current financial predicament because of its own actions. It is not the fault of the Coastal Commission or other Californians. It’s the actions of YOUR city council that caused the problem, not any state agency enforcing environmental laws.

Fix the mess you made for yourselves without adversely impacting other coastal communities. If you want the help of other Californians, try a little humility and stop dictating to us how we should help.

“It’s just dishonest to say that land that can be developed with 19 to 30 or more houses is worthless.”

So, are you saying Bob Mitton is lying?

“I took my best shot at estimating the value and no one has seen fit to refute it.”

Not in the least.  Since you have zero background in valuing development properties, your best shot has no bearing on anything.

“Furthermore, the burden of proof should be on the city, not on opponents of AB1991. They have yet to prove the land has no value. They can’t.”

I will repeat again what I have said elsewhere - Half Moon Bay has absolutely *zero* responsibility to explain the situation to you.

You are doing your best to make it seem that you or some “concerned citizens” are being “kept in the dark” according to some devious motive (something Grady tried unsuccessfully to argue last week).  The fact is, and this is something you know to be true, the City’s actions and the basis for those actions is the City’s business - not yours.  They must keep this confidential for very simple reasons, and you are well aware of them.

There are many questions that need to be asked before an accurate value can be put on the value of Beachwood.

Whoever buys this parcel will make their own assessments as to how many homes will be permitted,  that is assuming it is sold to another person.  I would assume that someone would assume the worst (like 19 homes) and hope they can squeeze out more.  But that’s a crap shoot.

Of course,  the real question is who in their right mind would want to buy this troublesome property with its litigious history.  Think about the years of grief and expense the new owner will have to endure.  Especially with so many other projects to choose from throughout the State with less issues.

So this property’s history will significantly lessen its value.  And aren’t we lucky cause this infill parcel with sensitive wetlands probably cost HMB over $25 million and we can sell it for a small fraction of that.  Such a deal!

Brian, Bob Mitton didn’t say that the land is worthless. As far as I can tell from the Review, he talked about the difficulties, but not the value.  Real estate development is about overcoming difficulties, and Beachwood would have fewer than most if the city takes it over.

Also, according Bob’s website, he’s a sales and marketing specialist, not a developer of ten-million-dollar projects:

http://www.bobmitton.com/Nav.aspx/Page=/About/Default.aspx

The land is clearly not worthless. The only people who are saying it is are those who stand to profit from AB1991.

And the city has a responsibility to explain itself to the state legislature in exchange for getting AB1991 passed. They’re trying to overturn a whole raft of environmental, coastal and planning protections by pleading poverty. But they’re not as poor as they pretend to be.

The fact that all use of the property was not removed—19 residences were allowed—makes Beachwood ineligible as a taking. Look up the Supreme Court decisions on what constitutes a “taking.” That alone should have been enough to clobber Walker’s decision on appeal.

Francis has it exactly right. The rest of us have no duty to HMB because of the city’s botched settlement agreement. The citizens of the state should not have to suffer a new model for weakening environmental protections almost across the board just because some backward people in HMB have a selfish, parochial sense of entitlement. Just because the City Council of HMB and the town’s dug-in, self-serving cadre of obdurate destructionists are incapable of being responsible (or even modestly able to work out problems such as Beachwood) does not mean the rest of the state should take pity on their incompetence. Goodness knows, we have plenty of problems of our own crying for resolution.

Carl May

Francis,
It is certainly not me that is dictating anything. It is the coastal commission that dictates whether a plot of land is now considered a wetland, and that our city must enforce an lcp. It is the judge that dictated that us citizens of HMB have to pay 36 million. What is fair about any of this?

And we all know that you if take the “wetland” definition very literally it would mean that all land on the california coast, probably for several miles inland is considered a wetland. I know I can find a plant growing in my backyard that is seen to have grown in a wetland condition. This is definitely a mess the state of california has helped us get into.

Ray, the Coastal Commission is not “dictating” anything—they are nothing more than the executive body for the Coastal Act.  The Coastal Act was passed by the Legislature in 1976 in order to continue the protections implemented by a popular vote of the people of California when they passed the Coastal Initiative in 1972.

The Coastal Initiative was passed specifically to preserve California’s coast for all people of California, not just those of us lucky enough to be able to live here.  Think of it as a tradeoff—in order to be able to own land here, develop here, or live here, you have to make concessions.  They’re reasonable concessions considering that the value of land / developing / living here is so much higher than the rest of the state.

(As Carl May has mentioned, it’s time to do another Coastal Initiative to close the loopholes that have been bored through the Coastal Act over the years.  And I have confidence that it would pass as easily as it did the first time.  One thing that I’d insert this time is Constitutional protection for the CCC’s funding, which would actually benefit developers since the CCC would have enough staff, resulting in time frames shortening to something reasonable.)

“And we all know that you if take the ‘wetland’ definition very literally it would mean that all land on the california coast, probably for several miles inland is considered a wetland.”

What wetland definition would that be?

“Wetland” is defined several ways in our society, and the legal definitions are often less than scientifically supportable because the wordings have been politically influenced. (Sorta like the Bush Administration rewriting reports by government scientists to make them say what they want them to say.) But even the contrived definitions don’t make more than a tiny percentage of the California coastal zone a wetland. Less than five percent of our coastal wetlands remain in California, the other 95 percent having been destroyed by human activity. And anyone who stayed awake in biology class can go to that five percent and see the human impacts that make these wetlands far from pristine and far from providing the full complement of ecological stability and subsidies we should be getting from them.

So, again, where is this definition which, when taken literally, makes all the land on the coast a wetland?  Or has someone been listening to too much right-wing radio?

Even that pristine plot of land called beechwood, right Carl?
I’m talking about the definition laid out in the coastal act, that the coastal commission has been given the authority to uphold. You know.. the part that says one of 3 criteria must be met: soil, plant, or standing water. Carl, I’m sure you can elaborate for us exactly this definition.

And I do not disagree with trying to protect our wetlands, and try to keep some sort of balance for our beautiful coast. That is why I’ve lived on the coast all my life. It’s just this stupid bickering on plots of land that actually, were originally planned to be developed in some way.

Ray,

http://tinyurl.com/5nksdf has the definition of wetlands. As you can see it is codified into state and federal law. The California Coastal Commission is charged with enforcing those laws within California’s Coastal Zone.

The Beachwood property could be developed in a manner fully consistent with the Coastal Act, but not with as many homes as you or the developer would like.

Preventing development that is 4 times what the Coastal Act allows can hardly be described as anti-development. It’s simply stopping excessive development, which is one of many legitimate purposes of the Coastal Act.

Still looking for that definition that “literally” makes “all land” in the coastal zone a wetland. Coastal Act Section 30121 doesn’t come close to that, even with the additional latitude linked by Francis. (One of the many huge problems with the Coastal Act is that it largely fails to recognize the ecological interdependence between certain kinds of areas, such as wetlands and surrounding upland areas. This has been the subject of confusion and debate in some of the famous southern California coastal wetland controversies.)

Or are we really confused about the definitions of “literally” and “all land”? Or the meaning of “hyperbole”?

I’ve read the link that Francis has provided before, and I think I can count 4 different definitions, but it refers to the USFWS version which I am quite amazed Carl does not seem to know. It states this:
“Wetlands are lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water. For purposes of this classification, wetlands must have one or more of the following three attributes: (1) at least periodically, the land supports hydrophytes, (2) the substrate is predominantly undrained hydric soil; and (3) the substrate is non-soil and is saturated with water or covered by shallow water at some time during the growing season of each year.” (Cowardin, 1979)

These I believe are the 3 conditions, only one of which has to be met. I can probably find a hydrophyte that periodically grows in my backyard, perhaps even riparian vegatation that would also be considered a hydrophtye, and grows annually in my backyard.

The point is not about the literal terms of the text… It is about deciding when (and when not) to apply it. And then to take it and say: well you could build 20 homes on this wetland and it would be ok.
I am not in favor of Chop boy, and I really wish some Lawyer can stick it to him.

Oh, and one other thing… My point about deciding that 20 homes can be built on the wetland… or perhaps 24, or even 130 homes. Where is that stated in the Law?

Years ago the CCC approved the project, allowing 19 houses to be built on the portion of the property which they determined wasn’t wetlands.  The developer didn’t like that (his net profit would only be $10M instead of $40M on the whole deal) so he sued (I think the CCC and HMB).  Regardless, the project has already received approval for a 19 house version.  Does that count as “stated in the law”?  Oh and by the way, that’s not “deciding that 20 homes can be built on the wetland”—the reason the CCC cut it down to 19 was that’s all that fit on the part that isn’t wetlands.

Ray,
You are flailing. Of course I have seen these definitions. I have even written critiques of some of the variety of wetland definitions, comparing them with common, textbook-level understanding in ecology, limnology, and aquatic biology. You may wish to go back to my message of yesterday to learn that the variety of politically influenced definitions was already accounted for.

So, take the Fisheries and Wildlife version, which has its limitations when it comes to ecology but will serve. You don’t seem to understand the part that says the land supports hydrophytes. This doesn’t mean a couple of water-loving plants growing under a dripping outdoor faucet with a bad washer or even in low spots on a property that is overwatered. It does mean an established, ongoing hydrophytic plant community.

Finding a hydrophytic plant on your property means nothing to the definition; finding hydrophytic plants that are there annually due to prevailing conditions means something. And so on for the other parts of the definition. Wetlands are ecosystems; hydrophytic plant communities are indicators that such an ecosystem is present.

Going over the entire coastal zone landscape of the midcoast and HMB, very little of the land area has even one of the elements of the F & W definition or any other codified definition of wetlands. So I accused you of hyperbole in your sweeping assertion. I still do. You ought to learn what you are talking about before you make general suppositions.

I’m surprised you do not know about the 19 housing units that were approved under a Coastal Commission formula for the non-wetland (by the definition they were using) area of Beachwood. Those 19 units made the artificial establishment of new “wetlands” on the property not a “taking” by U.S. Supreme Court decisions on what constitutes a “taking.” Look up the SC decisions and learn that essentially all use of a property must be denied before a taking can legitimately be claimed.

This fact that Beachwood is a non-taking (by definition and regardless of Walker’s grossly erroneous and inexpert judgement) is just one of the elements of the self-inflicted mess made of the situation by the current City Council’s giveaway to the developer in the settlement. Why on earth should the rest of California suffer establishment of a new means for avoiding almost all state and local level environmental regulation just because the City Council and its legal/PR advisors schemed up AB 1991 as part of a sweetheart deal that can only be characterized as stupid and/or corrupt? If AB 1991 passes, look for a whole new marketplace for political exemption trading to be established in the state legislature—the familiar “you approve my (fill in) and I’ll approve your (fill in). All actively brokered by special interests and their lobbyists, of course.

Carl May

Oh Carl, it only took you a day for to write your VERY verbose, pompous, diatribe only to confirm that the words in the coastal act are actually “interpreted” by experts in the subject matter. And you call me flailing? That is soo funny.

And don’t you think it is a bit ridiculous that someone imparts judgement that a few yards away the land must be wetland, but over in this one particular spot, it has been determined that there are certainly no wetlands her?

I can visualize it right now…. Our coastal commission scientist is sitting at his desk and a call comes in. Some NIMBYer reports “Someone is starting to develop on this land that has been used for farming for so many years. My view of the ocean will be blocked… or I will no longer have direct access to the beach. Something must be done”.

So our coastal commission rep puts on his uniform and hat, with a label that reads, instead of “To Protect and Servce”: “To Protect and Prevent Excessive Development” (Thanks for the phrase Francis).

Our hero then heads out to the plot of land, takes a quick survey and says to himself “Why, this must be a wetland. But first, I must apply the scientific method!”

He then starts with step 1:
See if there is standing water on the land. After a quick survey he notices no water, but says “I must wait til the rains come. And the law says I must see this happen periodically”. he comes back in a few months to find water sitting and say “If I see this again, it must be a wetland”.

So onto step 2: Let’s test the soil. After carefully inspecting areas where the water consistently drains from the soil (but it is dry) he determines, this spot must be of hydric soil composition. So it takes samples to the lab to investigate. Perhaps tests were negative, but he takes many samples over the land, just in case.

And finally onto step 3: Let’s find a hydrophytic plant, there must be one somewhere. So he waits til the rainy season, and low and behold plants start cropping, so he takes photos and samples back to the lab as evidence.

I’m being humorous here… but could this be not far from the truth??

Ray Olson is a troll.

Ray,

Let’s pretend you are as confused about the basics of ecological matters as your latest try at fiction indicates. Part of the pretending will be that you are sincere.

One way you can begin to clear the fog away is to drop into a beginning environmental science course. One at any of the nearby JCs will do fine. Perhaps you can find one online. Such courses give the rudiments of ecology and related natural sciences with an applied slant toward the big environmental issues that concern us all. (Ecology is the study of the interactions betweens living things and their living and non-living environment—this definition is a freebie.)

Now such an introduction is not going to answer everything that dumfounds you, but it will give you an initial look at what is involved in the matters that you can only now address with made-up stories. You can go on to other related introductory studies—courses on geology, aquatic biology, etc. By gosh, before long you will begin to see how information that seems like it is from an alien presence turning cartwheels through the universe is developed right here on Earth. How terms are created. How observation and experimentation are employed to provide information on a subject. How mathematics come into play to quantify information and demonstrate relationships among data.

How field procedures must be organized to provide information and analyses that are supported and verifiable—so very different from the silly exercise of your little fantasy. How to genuinely critique scientific information without making a fool of yourself. How to spot doctored science and fraud, such as one can buy from rent-a-biologists and rent-a-geologists.

I feel really good about our little exchange today because I have been able to see some of the areas that throw you off track and lead to your confusion and have been able to suggest one approach for you to help yourself. All still pretending, of course.

Carl.. I’m just reading more pretentious discourse from someone that may not be living in the same real world that I am.

Anneliese,

Maybe you are right - I always thought of him as a turnip. But I don’t want to change the conversation from “Local Government Committee passes AB1991-next stop: Appropriations Committee” ;|

Ken Johnson

Understood Ken.

It’s important to give definition to the difference of genuine debate here, versus those who entertain themselves with internet flaming.

In case no one clicked on my hyperlinked “troll” above, the definition from the Urban Dictionary:
Troll - 1a. Noun
One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.”

To keep the conversation on topic:  “Local Government Committee passes AB1991-next stop: Appropriations Committee:”

Let’s remind everyone that this Thursday, May 22, is when AB 1991 will be heard by the Appropriations Committee.  Please contact Appropriations Committee members and urge them to oppose AB 1991 (Mullin).

I would encourage Kevin, Ray and Steven to learn more about the Coastal Act and to attend a Coastal Commission hearing the next time they’re held nearby.

After doing so they will become far more effective at arguing against Coastal Act policies.

Information about the Coastal Act and the Commission’s public meetings are available at their website.

Following up on Anneliese’s post. It is critical for those opposed to AB 1991 to FAX their letters in by Monday.

The City Council’s old guard supporters and their realtor/developer friends are sending in their own letters for sure.

Below is my own letter.

via Fax: 916-319-2113
May 16, 2008

The Honorable Mark Leno
Chair, Assembly Appropriations Committee
Subject: AB 1991 (Oppose)

Dear Chair Leno and Members of the Appropriations Committee:

As a former Chair of the Half Moon Bay Planning Commission, I am writing to urge you in the strongest possible terms to vote no on AB 1991. This bill seeks to exempt the 129-house Beachwood/Glencree project from having to comply with our state’s environmental laws.

AB 1991 would establish a precedent of overriding the interests of all Californians for the benefit of a few. This bill raises important concerns about equal protection under California state law. The bill also seeks to abrogate local laws that would require the developer to provide some affordable housing.

AB 1991 would effectively approve a 129-house subdivision on the basis of a preliminary environmental review (a 1990 vesting tentative map) that is now 18 years old. An up-to-date environmental review is needed to address the growth in traffic since 1990 and the current water situation that exists on the coast. The traffic generated by this huge project would be funneled through a new signalized intersection just north of an existing subdivision, likely causing gridlock during commute hours and restricting coastal access by visitors on weekends. It is critical that a full environmental review be conducted before this project is approved. AB 1991 would bypass that review.
 
The Half Moon City Council is claiming that AB 1991 is necessary to avoid an $18 million settlement payment to the developer. Please note that it was the City Council itself that agreed to the $18 million payment, after doing its legally-required due diligence to ensure that payment could be made. The City Council now comes before the Assembly and asks for “legislative relief” from its own fiduciary decisions.

Most troubling, AB 1991 lays out a method by which future coastal development projects can be exempted from environmental review simply by having a local government enter into a settlement agreement with a developer and then beg the legislature for relief. What if a member of Congress proposed a bill that would exempt one financially-strapped but well-connected company (let’s call it Enron), from having to comply with the SEC’s mandatory accounting regulations? Obviously such a bill would constitute a horrible public policy precedent and should not even be considered. The same goes for AB 1991.

We all owe a tremendous debt to the state legislators who had the vision and foresight to pass the California Coastal Act, the California Environmental Quality Act, and the California Endangered Species Act. These laws protect California’s coast for the benefit of current and future generations. The stakes involved here extend beyond Half Moon Bay to all of California. To protect this legacy, I urge you and your fellow committee members to vote no on AB 1991.

Sincerely,
Kevin J. Lansing.
Half Moon Bay

Ray, you’re welcome to disagree, but please be civil.

Its going to be fascinating to see how Beachwood plays out.  This could end up being a significant turning point in which some of the laws are scaled back in terms of reality.

There’s nothing great about saving Beachwood that warrants all this money and time.  But now that Walker’s verdict is upheld and AB 1991 is moving its way through the Capitol,  things might get a little more rationale.

I really sense a change in the public’s attitude and perhaps we will see more compromise in the future so that follies like this aren’t repeated. What a staggering waste of money.

And Bill Clinton’s lawyer will be interesting to watch as he works his magic on our state legislature.  After all,  these are the experts in parsing words.

Steven Hyman,

Actually the CC4 denied us the right to find out IF “Walker’s verdict is [would be] upheld” on Appeal. The galling thing is that the CC4 are spending our money, at an unprecedented rate, as you point out on the most expensive legal talent available to abrogate the vote of more that 70% of HMB’s vote on Measure A and 70% of California voters on Proposition 20 that resulted in the Coastal Act.

The irony, in your comment, is that if all else fails to stop the fulfilling of the terms in the CC4 ‘Settlement Agreement’, it will be the actions of a different prior liberal United States President in seeing to the passage of a series of environmental protection legislation 35 years ago. That would include the “Endangered Species Act of 1973” done by that flaming liberal - President Nixon.

How does the Appropriations Committee evaluate the cost to California in the passage of AB1991 and the “Road Map” it would create for the loss of even one unique species, let alone threatening an entire coastal habitat?

It is not a Liberal V. Conservative issue! It is not a Republican V. Democrat issue!  It is a Right V. Wrong issue!


One Planet.

Ken Johnson

Barry,
I apologize to you if you feel like I’m not being civil, as that what was not my intention.  But, I think you need to remind Carl as well.. His posts have such a belittling tone.
Also, I see a bit of name calling here which I think is uncalled for. Ken & Anneliese, I am no turnip, I am trying to make a point that I think many folks on the coast feel, and I’m sorry if the truth hurts.

Oh, I must mention one thing..
Please support AB1991 as HMB desparately needs to move forward from the problems that past council members, and the coastal comission, has placed us citizens of HMB into. We cannot afford an 18 millon dollar settlement, and I feel we should not be placed with this financial burden. Please note that many folks on this site that oppose this bill, do not have to bear this financial burden, a financial burden imposed on us by the state, and the coastal commission that imparts judgement as to what lands should, or should not be, built upon

Ken,

We’ve covered this topic many times before and see things quite differently.  I think the City Council did the right thing by settling and trying to put an end to this long running budget busting nightmare.

Your option was to appeal endlessly and if unsuccessful,  file bankruptcy leaving the City with a potential $50 million debt.

Its precisely these attitudes that got us into this mess.  And this cycle of endless spending has to stop.  Too many millions of dollars have been wasted over the past decade on lawyers rather than things like the Boys & Girls Club.

Like you,  I was surprised at the creative solution of AB 1991.  Although if this idea can save us from writing an $18 million check,  I’m all for it. 

There’s nothing special about this infill parcel that’s worth the money or effort.  It looks out of place now with its field of weeds between 2 communities and HMB’s landmark “Stop the Light” sign.

Its amazing to think little HMB has Bill Clinton’s lawyer on its side.  He’s the ultimate spin meister.  Don’t forget he helped redefine the definition of sex and turned lies into “mis-speak”.  And now he only only has to convince state legislators.  In comparison to what’s he’s had to deal with before,  this should be a walk in the park.

The real problem with your strategy is that it doesn’t work.  When you litigate,  you put your faith in someone else’s hand.  If you settle,  you have more control.

There’s also no reason to have elevated this infill lot to such historic proportions.  But it may go down as a landmark case for property owners rights. And that’s a good thing and long overdue.

This is something that should have settled long ago.  And we would have saved millions of dollars too.

Steven,

There’s nothing so special about HMB that the rest of the state has to give up its environmental laws to save HMB $18 million.

The issue can be resolved once and for all without AB 1991. HMB will own the Beachwood parcel for $18 million. With its foresight and infinite wisdom, your City Council already negotiated those terms.

Now, if you want to keep lawyers engaged in the issue, consider what will happen if AB 1991 passes. I think a strong case can be made that AB 1991 is unconstitutional because it uses legislation to undo Proposition 20.

From a resident of HMB,  I’m more concerned about my town.  This bill has been crafted to only apply to HMB.

Could it be modified or a future road map for other people who’s rights have been abused?  Sure.

And that’s the price for picking silly fights.  Maybe HMB’s legacy will be a property right’s victory.

This is what happens when you put you your fate in other hands.  Now we ae at the mercy of politicians.  We’ll see which side does the best arm twisting.

This,  sad to say,  is the battle that never should have been waged.

Steven,

Your selfishness and capacity to cherry-pick facts shows no bounds.

HMB is no better at crafting “one-off” legislation than they are at administering an LCP.

HMB picked this “silly fight.” Their legacy is and will remain contemptuous and incompetent coastal government undeserving of assistance from other Californians.

Hopefully, the side that demands fair and uniform enforcement of state law will prevail over selfish special interests that benefit a few incompetent politicians.

I do agree that this battle should never have been waged. HMB created their own mess and they should clean it up without jeopardizing our state’s environmental laws.

If my carrying about the town I’ve lived in for over 25 years makes me selfish,  so be it.

I haven’t been pleased with the constant stalling of projects for too long and the wasteful spending of millions of dollars of money.

We all knew this day would come.  We just didn’t know the lawsuit that do the City in.

Anyway, 1991 only applies to HMB.  I do agree that it could be the future blueprint,  if altered,  to where it could work elsewhere.  But I’m less concerned with that maybe then finding $18 million.

And again,  this is what happens when you put your fate in other peoples’ hands.  So hopefully,  this will be the beginning on a new area in HMB.  If for no other reason,  the City will be too crippled financially to wage another battle.

I would say that when all is said and done, the winners will be the lucky lawyers who have been feeding at the HMB gravy train for years.  But isn’t that always the case.

“There’s nothing special about this infill parcel . . . It looks out of place now with its field of weeds between 2 communities.” Written by a blind person, obviously, one who’s driver’s license should be revoked.

And to Mr. Drouillard, when you write, “HMB created their own mess and they should clean it up without jeopardizing our state’s environmental laws,” I feel inclined to inform you, respectfully, that you bought the wrong party’s lie. Being where you are, and having only begun to pay attention once the settlement agreement and AB1991 garnered attention regionally, you’ve absorbed a fabricated story from ill-intentioned media sources.

HMB did not create the mess, that is the fiction that sprung from Judge Walker’s dexterous fingers. The city was guilty of failing to drain existing wetlands, not of manufacturing the ones that were present before 1984, and still extant when Keenan bought the land in 1993 - Walker dismissed a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Informed people around here were confident that a jury of Walker’s peers, the 9th Circuit Court, would dismiss the case for any number of at least a half dozen different reasons.

Since Walker’s decision, the city has made a hash of it deciding to go along with Walker and Keenan, so I agree with you that we’ve turned it into a statewide mess of gigantic proportions. I wish there were more people like you, Mr. Drouillard, who grasped the significance of this legislation for the rest of the state. And I apologize if my correction appears too gruff, but I find the reported consensus that the city caused the wetlands maddening.

p.s. To Steve Hyman: I only suggest revoking your driver’s license for reasons of public safety, not out of any malevolence for you. fyi

p.p.s. I admire your ability to repeat and quote yourself endlessly. Others might find it humdrum, but it’s also soothing, a sort of black-on-white noise that drowns out discord because disagreeing with you is the same thing as arguing with a recording. Acceptance is the key.

I’ll try and slow down next time so I can better take in that special Kodak moment.  The bright red color on the Stop the Traffic Light sign must be blurring my vision to where I can’t see wetlands.  It makes me just see weeds.

Perhaps you could help us all see what you think we’re missing by changing the color on the sign to traffic light red.  Then I’ll be able to see it your way.  Hopefully that change in paint color won’t require too many permits or too much time.

Francis wrote:

“Their [the HMB City Council’s] legacy is and will remain [a] contemptuous and incompetent coastal government undeserving of assistance from other Californians.”

Exactly. Our pathetic City Council has managed to start a high stakes war that involves every major environmental group in the entire state.

And let’s not forget our esteemed Mayor signing her name to several unprofessional official letters (written by Lanny Davis) that crudely insult an official state regulatory agency, namely, the California Coastal Commission.

AB 1991 is an abomination. With the help of their high-priced strong-arm man Davis, the City Council is trying shove AB 1991 down the throat of the entire state. The bill is a gross corruption of the entire statewide process of environmental protection.

So Steve Hyman wants to stop spending money on lawyers? Maybe he should start thinking about the cost of the legal fight that looms ahead if AB 1991 is ever signed into law.

Hey whats a few million dollars more among friends.  Just think how much money has been wasted on all this lawyering.

Maybe we should put a sign in front of Beachwood with one of those markings that measures money spent with a catchy headline like What’s Beachwood cost HMB?

And if we can do it in an artistic eco-friendly manner,  it may cast a soft shadow over the weeds turning them wetlands.  This is something that has been lost on all the blind speeders.

With the way seems to work out,  maybe we can have the worst of both worlds.  AB 1991 passes and then HMB spends millions on fighting the various appeals. The clock runs out in 2011 so HMB gets to hand over an $18 million check.

It would interesting if the City ever did a P&L;on what Beachwood has cost so far.  I’d put that number now at around $25 million and rising.

Steven,

I don’t know how well it works in the real estate business, but “wishing things to the cornfield” doesn’t work very well with essential environmental laws like the Coastal Act.

If you, a citizen of HMB, can’t find out from your City Council how much has been spent on this case, or how they derived the $18 million settlement amount, why should the rest of us Californians trust their AB 1991 scheme?

Ray Olsen wrote:

“I totally agree the decision was outrageous. As for negotiating a bad deal.. That might be your opinion but I would tend to rely on actual lawyers for what are our options and what might be the best decision for our city.”

I am very interested in knowing what protections the City has against further disputes over Glencree with Mr. Keenan and his trustee, Ms. Yamigawa, if the exemptions fail and the City pays $18 million for Beachwood, while Mr. Keenan keeps Glencree.

I question whether the City’s attorneys negotiated adequate protections of the City’s interests in the scenario in which the City’s good-faith effort to support the waivers of existing laws happens to fail.

Assuming that the City was indeed acting in good faith with respect to what has now become AB 1991, I would think that it also would have been fair to include provisos in case that effort was unsuccessful to either (a) allow the City to resume the appeal or (b) make the payout with an agreement that Mr. Keenan never again “darken the City’s doorstep”.

I would like to hear from the City’s attorneys or the four on the Council who made this agreement on this question.

Hal,
I’m glad you have interest in the financial well being of my city. I’m assuming you live in HMB too? Your points “a” and “b” seem legitimate but just want to make sure you have the same level of financial risk that I have at the moment. Or is it possible that you may be trying to raise any sort of opposition, in hopes of achieving some other non-obvious agenda?

Ray - I do, indeed, live in Half Moon Bay.  But my concerns should be just as valid, regardless of whether or not I do. :-)

Hal M. Bogner
Half Moon Bay

Ray Olson,

Once again, you have raised irrelevance to a new height. I would assert that any sentient being has standing as to the real substance and goal of AB 1991. AB 1991, at its heart, is a roadmap for circumventing the protection of environment and endangered species. All have a stake in saving a creation of God!

Ken Johnson

Wow.. if everyone on the coastside (or our county for the matter) were just as involved in our little city council’s affairs maybe we can just have a quick fund-raising campaign, and set this property aside as county owned public lands. I don’t necessarily agree with your statement of “But my concerns should be just as valid..”.

I am hoping that the reasons some of the negotiation between our greeder developer and our city was due to mitigating risk on other attempts to thwart the negotiation. I am certainly no expert in this legal battle, but it really seems like we have alot of “experts” here on this site. It is very easy to be an easy-chair quarterback.

Ken,
You and others quickly extrapolate that AB1991 is going to cause total anarchy and overdevelopment of the entire california coastside. It is totally untrue. The reality is that HMB cannot afford to pay this legal settlement, and it will lead us to bankruptcy (which is much much closer to the truth than the destruction of the coastal act, and the current wetlands definitions that have been made). You have absolutley no evidence to the contrary.

Ray, the failure of AB1991 will not bankrupt Half Moon Bay. Chop Keenan would never have agreed to the settlement if that were the case. He’s not that stupid.

Your “anarchy” statement is simply a strawman.

Barry,
Not sure what you mean by your statement “is simply a strawman”?

Please note some of the statements in this thread:
“All have a stake in saving a creation of God! “

or..
“The bill is a gross corruption of the entire statewide process of environmental protection”

or..
“..let alone threatening an entire coastal habitat?”

Ray Olson,

I am sorry you do not believe in God and we will pray for you! A loose ‘Straw man’.

Ken Johnson

ken,
So now you are attaching your belief in God to AB1991, that is so typical.
And you have no idea about my faith in God,
and frankly I take a little offense to that remark.

Ray Olson,

You asked about ‘Straw man’.

You are welcome.

Ken Johnson

Ray Olson,

P.S. The prior few comments should also demonstrate Anneliese Agren   on May 16 at 8:40pm comment.

Ken Johnson

Ken,
Go ahead and keep digressing from the main topic of this discussion, you are always so good at it!

Back to AB 1991.

The same coalition that supports AB 1991 were the ones that fought in 1972 California Proposition 20, Coastal Initiative. Hopefully, we will have the same result with the benefit of identifying the Anti-Environment Assembly Members for the upcoming election and their defeat at the polls.

Ken Johnson

This is the point in the conversation when I ask everyone to take a deep breath and think calm, friendly thoughts.

 
 
 

What is the cost of AB 1991 to us?

The CC4 won’t tell us! They could: Ask at the CC mtg 20 May

Orrick

$108,630   8Feb08 billing   Check 26Mar08
$154,498   8Mar08 billing   Check 25Apr08
??????     8Apr08 billing
??????     8May08 billing

This is just the beginning. After the Appropriations Committee, comes [maybe] Committee on Natural Resources and the Assembly Floor. Next would be a repeat of the whole thing in the Senate. Then who knows - a Governor Veto?

Following a doubtful passage of AB 1991, then the real money starts flowing out defending against real law suits by those who would have fought on our side. Just what has the CC4 budgeted for this?

Read the Settlement Agreement for what we are on the hook!

It doesn’t get any better than, with the exception of getting Harvard lawyer & Professor Alan Dershowitz as co-counsel for an appeal, having the free assistance of the California Coastal Commission and the State of California Attorney Generals office assisting on an appeal - Now, we will be paying to defending against their opposition.

CUSD will loose significant impact fees (what was in place in 1990 was far less than stat limit set today).


Ken Johnson

Here’s a first,  a complaint about legal bills! I guess it was ok to spend $5 million on Beachwood and who knows how many more millions on Pacific Ridge and N Wavecrest.

Of course, Ken was all in favor of happily spending untold monies on a dubious appeal that would have put this town in much worse shape.

Anyway should we lucky enough to get AB 1991 passed, the money spent on litigation is still a lot less than paying $18 million for that overpriced field of weeds.

It’s a mistake to disarm unilaterally, or to let yourself get a reputation for being easy to push around.

The current city council has not communicated intention of defending its Local Coastal Program, so it won’t be surprising to see more lawsuits in the future.

It could be just as expensive in the long run to capitulate as it is to fight.

What bears repeating is that HMB was in a poor bargaining position.  Its options were either appeal with horrible consequences from a growing debt they couldn’t repay or settle.

They chose the wiser tact by going for a sure thing and an amount significantly below the judgment (56%).  But when you try and settle,  you also can’t say we still want to be able to appeal too.

When you look at the results of the settlement,  you can see who had the upper hand and the deep pockets to slug it out for many more years. It also shows what a good businessman Mr. Keenan is.

And as to being easy to be pushed around,  we are already there.  The days of 10-20 year law suits are over.  The money is gone for that.

The City will have to settle things with people more quickly.  And frankly,  there’s nothing wrong with that. Its done in business all the time.  And without the deep pockets of others,  what else can you do.

Steve Hyman wrote:
“What bears repeating is that HMB was in a poor bargaining position.”

Wrong. The City’s recently hired law firm told us at a public meeting in January that Keenan could never collect the $41 million that Judge Walker awarded because it meant that essential City services would need be curtailed. Hence, the $41 million was uncollectable and our City Council knew it.

So Patridge & Co. schemed up a way to give Keenan even more than Judge Walker awarded: AB 1991 would hand him full developlment rights not only on Beachwood but also on Glencree.

This is by far is the most corrupt political backroom deal in the history of Half Moon Bay.

We need term limits at the local level to remove entrenched Council members who sacrifice the public good to grant favors to their developer friends.

I agree that the City probably doesn’t have $41 million,  which by the way, would have mushroomed to close to $50 million with several years of interest added.

Surely to satisfy this amount, most of the City’s real estate holdings would have to be liquidated including City Hall, Community Center and even its acres of land by the Coastal Trail.

To me,  that’s not a winning hand.  The City had to settle.

Steven,

Please re-read what Mr. Lansing reported—the $41 million settlement was uncollectable and the City Council knew it.

That fact should have some effect on your opinion in the matter.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not familiar with how municipal bankruptcies work.  That being said, the City would still have to sell-off many assets to satisfy its obligations.

That would be devastating to the community.

All the options are bad,  appealing is worse.  I’m glad our elected officials did the right thing. That took a lot of courage.

“Did the right thing”? 

Patridge & Co. schemed to reward the developer with a windfall and now they are trying to trample over every state and local environmental law on the books.

Maybe for a realtor like Steve that seems like “the right thing.” I would say it is criminal.

It’s possible to make you point without getting personal.

 
 
 
 

Steve Hyman - Did you attend the public meeting presenting the experts from the two firms hired by the City to explain the appeal strategy?  It was explained at that meeting that assets such as City Hall are not subject to liquidation in a municipal bankruptcy.

I don’t understand why settling is such a bad thing.  Obviously the stone walling litigious approach has been a financial disaster for everybody,  except the lawyers.

Anyway, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.  Maybe we could get something done here for a change.

And I did attend a special meeting with the City prior to the public meeting in January,  however,  selling City land didn’t come up then.

Steven Hyman,

You really need to read about Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code BEFORE writing. Silver Sage Partners, Ltd. v. City of Desert Hot Springs, it was held that City assets need NOT be sold. It also allowed continued delivery of ALL City services.

Sorry to confuse with facts,
Ken Johnson

P.S. Marc Levinson of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is Vallejo’s bankruptcy attorney

Steven Hyman,

Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. § 901 et seq., is entitled “Adjustments of Debts of a Municipality.”

Ken Johnson

At the Beachwood workshop held in late January, Orrick’s attorney told HMB citizens that city services couldn’t be interrupted because of a debt to a private party, nor could the city be forced into bankruptcy because of such a debt, so Ken Johnson is right according to what the city’s law firm told us.

It’s fascinating, then, to learn that even before we were told that the city could not be irreparably harmed and that it intended to appeal, it had registered a week earlier in Sacramento to lobby the legislature - three months prior to announcing the settlement agreement that hinges on passing AB 1991, entailing a full-scale lobbying assault. In retrospect, to the untrained eye, it looks a little like they had already decided the road they were going to traverse, doesn’t it?

To give the lobbying effort spine, and to avoid the onus of deadbeat status, the city worked with the bond firm, T. Rowe Price, to schedule an acceptable, albeit reduced amount to Keenan, the “upset fee” of $18 million that includes lots of other strings.

Somehow this hasn’t made it to my top 10 stack for night time reading.  If AB 1991 doesn’t pass,  maybe we should make some eco-friendly flyers on Chapter 9 that we can put in a newcomer’s welcome basket. 

I still don’t think the HMB cartoon should be included yet.  But if Ken and I keep being such good pen pals this summer,  I’ll be glad to give him a framed version for a Christmas present.

Steven Hyman,

I look forward to it - I’d appreciate it if each person in it signed it.

Ken Johnson

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
[Staff] BILL ANALYSIS

“Key policy question .
While the specific circumstances leading
        up to this settlement are unique, passage of this bill will
        nevertheless create an unwanted precedent that may undermine
        the state’s legitimate role and responsibility to preserve
        land in its coastal zone. This is largely because (a) the
        state would be relinquishing all of its authority for
        environmental reviews pursuant to an agreement to which it was
        not a party, and (b) this extraordinary action would be
        occurring as the result of a lower court decision that the
        city chose not to appeal.

        In view of these concerns, the key policy question is whether
        the state should give up its responsibility for all
        environmental review, or allow the city to take possession
        under the terms of the agreement it signed. Under the latter
        option, the Legislature could help the city obtain maximum
        value for the land by, for example, requiring expedited
        environmental review, establishing a larger footprint for
        development, allowing higher density development, and
        providing other assistance for wetland preservation and
        housing development. While such an alternative may still raise
        undesirable precedents, the alternative would involve targeted
        changes, as opposed to wholesale environmental exemptions, and
        the state would set the terms under which the city would be
        receiving special consideration.”

I’m sure I know where you like it signed.

Steven… enough of that reasonable rhetoric now. Sharpen up kid. I’m with ya on the Top 10 reading.  My dreams are filled with riding the 1 into the Tom Lantos tunnel as exit onto the Gina Papan Bridge, unto to Lou Papan Highway…

Who voted Yes:

You have to ‘admire’ Republican Assembly Member predictability in just what they will vote for. On the other hand, Democrats…

Mark Leno - Chair       Dem-13     
Mimi Walters - V Chair  Rep-73 YES
Anna M. Caballero       Dem-28 YES
Mike Davis              Dem-48 YES
Mark DeSaulnier         Dem-11     
Bill Emmerson           Rep-63 YES
Warren T. Furutani      Dem-55     
Jared Huffman           Dem-6     
Betty Karnette          Dem-54     
Paul Krekorian          Dem-43     
Doug La Malfa           Rep-2   YES
Ted W. Lieu             Dem-53  YES
Fiona Ma                Dem-12  YES  Coauthor
Alan Nakanishi          Rep-10  YES
Pedro Nava              Dem-35     
Sharon Runner           Rep-36  YES
Jose Solorio            Dem-69  YES

BTW Kevin Barron,

Please explain exactly what your ‘comment’ has to do with AB 1991, if you can.

Ken Johnson

You also have to tip your hat to the slick lawyering and lobbying of Bill and Hillary’s man.  But would you expect anything less.  He did learn from the master.  HMB is lucky to have such a talented high priced man on our side.   

Its interesting to hear all the concessions being offered now as this bill looks like it will sail through the Assembly.  Too bad these weren’t offered many years ago.  Maybe we wouldn’t be wasting all our time and money on this infill parcel.

Steven,

Those weren’t concessions. They were alternatives that would have been evaluated as part of the normal review process that would have occurred without the need for the special interest legislation or the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by HMB in legal fees.

Ken,

I’m a conservative Republican, and I do not ‘admire’ the predictability of their Assembly Caucus. There used to be a day when Republicans deplored such legislation. Now, California Republicans are so beholden to developers they’ve abandoned their core beliefs in a vain attempt to retain what little influence they have. They’ve foolishly adopted an environment-vs-property rights stance that will steer them towards further irrelevance in California politics. You can see that with AB 1295 (Ducheney) and 1991 (Mullin). Developers will have to abandon Republicans and start manipulating Democrats as that is where the power resides in California.

Francis,

To your first point,  I’d say too little too late and its just talk.

And to your second point,  you forgot to mention that the Democrats are beholden to the environmental groups.

Francis Drouillard,

All true, we have too many RINOs and DINOs - Republican In Name Only and Democrats In Name Only - in the Assembly. 

The California Gubernatorial election showed again that a Republican can win in a Democrat state. I don’t think it was a coincidence that a Republican who was perceived as pro-environment beat a Democrat who was perceived as pro-developer / anti-environment. Admittedly, an over simplification.

I think you meant SB 1295 (Ducheny) Denise Moreno Ducheny D-San Diego Senate District 40 -
who should go.

I believe the anti-environment groups represent a very small minority and too many of our elected officials are simply a comparatively cheap date! The anti-environment groups should be relegated to the influence level of the Flat Earth Society.

Ken Johnson

More environmental and other outdoor groups are being added to the opposition. Because this bill flew under the radar until it was fully introduced (into the wrong committee for its content) in April, the word on it is still getting out.

It is being hurried through the legislature, so if it cannot be killed today, it might at least be postponed for due consideration. Making the rest of the state aware continues to be important. If it makes it through the assembly, growing opposition can give it a harder time in the Senate and (one can always dream) with the governor.

Ken,

I don’t know that I agree with you that the anti-environment groups are a small minority.  I think what you’ve seen over the years is a very committed well oiled minority getting there way.

As I’ve said many times,  Beachwood isn’t worth the fuss and MONEY.  What a mess for most people (except the lawyers).  And I’m sorry that I can’t appreciate this wetland wonder,  I still see it as just a field of weeds near McDonalds and the sewer plant.

In hindsight,  this was the wrong battle.  And AB 1991 will pass the Assembly this week with the help of the bogus “grass root supporters, shills and mercenaries”.  We met with George Mozingo of SAMCAR today and he is working hard to make this a reality.

Steve, you’ve got to enforce the law and you can’t allow yourself to be bullied out of it.  Half Moon Bay is getting the reputation as a town that would just as soon not enforce its own environmental and planning regulations, let alone the Coastal Act.

There is no question where the path of least resistance leads. I don’t want to live there, but it sounds like you do.

Steven,

Beachwood may not be worth the fuss and the money, but the rest of the California coast is worth protecting from overdevelopment on the Beachwood and Glencree parcels.

We are trying to make the best of a horrible situation.  All the solutions are bad but paying $18 million for something worth 5 is not acceptable to me.

I don’t see the scenic beauty of this site.  I could see if someone (and this is just an example I haven’t researched) wanted to build 129 Spyglass size homes on Martin’s Beach.  That’s another story.  That being said its also my favorite beach and I’ve fantasized about living there in a nice home.

Anyway,  this place needs to come together.  We can’t fight over every single thing.  We need to get things done in a timely manner.

This loss should be a wake up call that things need to change.  But unfortunately I still hear fight fight fight.  And that’s too bad.  I guess we will need more painful lessons still it sinks in.

Steven,

Honestly, the more you write the less sense you make.

What’s so horrible about maintaining the integrity of the Coastal Act and HMB recovering most or all of the $18 million with development that conforms to the Coastal Act?

If Beachwood was sold to one person,  my guess is that its worth $4,5,6 million.  Then to maximize the value of this parcel,  it needs to be subdivided into as many parcels as possible.

With the wetlands on this property,  who knows how many lots you can get,  how much money will need to be spent on reports,  maps made and streets with utilities built.  And of course,  how many more years of fighting.

Todays land prices go for around $250,000 to maybe $350,000.  So if you get 20 lots that’s max $7 million less all the above costs, plus lawyers.  40 lots might push that up to $10-$14 million.

Of course,  the real question (which will influence its value) is who in their right mind would want to buy it and deal with all the factions of HMB.

There are too many other easier opportunities elsewhere.

I want to hedge my estimate of Beachwood’s value by seeing how many water and paid sewer connections there are.  Water connections are going for over $40,000 now and the surplus unused hookups are worth some serious money to other land owners.

>>Half Moon Bay is getting the reputation as a town that would just as soon not enforce its own environmental and planning regulations

Vehemently disagree… Half Moon Bay and the residents thereof, are getting the reputation statewide as the city that is setting off the very “environmental trip wires” they’ve espoused and set for decades.

The more I think about it… the more I want 1991 to lose and HMB to get socked for TENS of millions ...and for what? farmland wedged between housing tracts on the East side of Highway 1. Coastal Act(s) gone awry. This is NOT what the CCC. Sierra Club et al was set up for. When will the common folk wake up and realize enough is enough.

Should there be a STOP Gina PAPAN campaign Blitz? The election is next week!

I drew back in horror when I read Darin Boville’s comment on “Meet the Democratic assembly candidates tonight” re AB 1991 that: “Hill said he wold oppose it in its current form, ditto for Holober (with even more emphasis), Papan says she supports AB 1991.” If true, it changed my support!

A couple of references to read:

Dems pump up 19th Assembly race“Papan also has received independent contributions - money from outside groups paid to support or oppose a candidate without his or her knowledge. About $321,000 has been spent on mailers supporting her and $56,000 on negative mailers.”

Lobby groups pad Assembly race spending Papan at center of mailings
“Also on Tuesday, the Sierra Club’s Loma Prieta chapter publicly called on Papan to cease using the group’s name in her campaign.” “The club, which endorsed both Holober and Hill,”

The winner is the Presumed winner in the fall.

Ken Johnson

>>>Should there be a STOP Gina PAPAN campaign Blitz? The election is next week!

>>>>Papan says she supports AB 1991.” If true, it changed my support!

Day late, dollar short. 90,000 signs later… much less what I call “Dumb San Mateo County Voters”... she’s a lock on name recognition. The same galoots that would put Tom Lantos in time-after-time, yet 90%+ (and trust I polled them… and invite you to poll a Papan supporter once she’s in) wouldn’t have a clue on his voting record, much what exactly he did for SM County given it’s one of the highest (out of HUNDREDS) districts to produce revenue. Anyways… Papan is a lock. Voters in Westlake, Old Bruno, middle of Linda Mar will set their TV dinners down, and like sheeple go with the “known”. Frightens me who is allowed to vote. Wishful thinking that voters should take a test on what a candidate stands for, much less what a general obligation bond is (and how it affects their taxation thereof).

P.S. Love the dichotomy since Gina is a big Sierra Club Head yet pro 1991. tee hee hee.

Anyone who fought the Devil’s Slide Bypass know how bad backroom-dealing Lou Papan was for the communities of Montara and Moss Beach. One wonders if his daughter is out of the same mold. As a decline-to-state voter, I’ll be picking up the Democratic primary ballot next week because of this race.

But AB 1991 is now. The next Assembly member for District 19 may have to take a position on any legal dust-up that might ensue if it passes and is signed, but that only side-tracks the need to derail the thing as written now if that is possible. Opponents should not take their eyes off the ball while in the batter’s box.

Over a month back (while I was out of the country), Steve Hyman wrote: “Property owners have rights too.  And hopefully, they will have more rights soon.”

Does that mean, Steve, that you agree that the existing property owners in the State of California, who voted in the Coastal Initiative, have the right to expect that legislation to be enforced?

Does that mean that you agree that property owners in Half Moon Bay that voted on the City’s growth control measurs have the right to expect those initiatives to be enforced?

Or does “property rights” to you only refer to owners of parcels that have not yet been built on, who for some reason should be able to override the rights of their neighboring land owners?

I’m quite honestly confused by your constant repetition of “property rights” and failure to acknowledge that (almost) everyone posting here and on TalkAbout is a property owner, who hs rights, too, which AB 1991 would trounce.

AB 1991 is a “unique situation”, right? One that can’t be used as precedent for other cities?

How quickly do you think Pacifica’s City Council and attorneys will recognize a great opportunity to solve their own problems, if AB 1991 is passed?

In case you missed it, “Wetlands give developer, city legal headache” in the San Mateo County Times of June 10, 2008: http://www.insidebayarea.com/search/ci_9534520

Of course it isn’t exactly the same situation. But to quote Julia Scott, the staff writer, “The circumstances of the claim, filed in late May, bear an uncanny resemblance to Half Moon Bay’s controversial Beachwood lawsuit, which was settled in April after eight years of legal wrangling. Like Half Moon Bay, Pacific could face a lawsuit from a property owner who is concerned about losing his ability to develop the land because of the presence of wetlands.”

My bet is that AB 1991 will be the first of a flood of “unique” solutions, each of which weakens our environmental protections.

The City was facing several ugly options.  I think the settlement was very creative and obviously favored Keenan,  who was holding all the cards with a staggering size judgment.

I can understand the concern from many here about the law being tweeked to save HMB.  What I disagree with is this specific site.  It is an unimpressive infill lot.

What’s more important to me and many others is the over-riding interest in not paying $18 million.  That trumps the consequenses to other people elsewhere of this special bill.

I wish I could take a more macro view but I don’t have the time to worry about everybodys’ problems throughout the state. And with the real estate recession worse in other places,  there must be plenty of problems.

Its obvious that we are just as divided now as ever before and aren’t willing to learn from our past mistakes.  That means more fighting with the area held hostage to endless appeals and nothing getting done. 

Looks like AB 1991 will get through the Senate.  What happens afterwards is probably more legal fighting.

There’s also taking place a big shift in the people’s attitudes here.  The anti-growth forces are loosing influence as the results of their actions are coming home to roost.

People aren’t going to tolerate the stalling tactics that have dominated politics in the past.  We want things done quickly.  Why am I saying that,  we are talking about government and they don’t understand that concept.

“What’s more important to me and many others is the over-riding interest in not paying $18 million.  That trumps the consequenses to other people elsewhere of this special bill.”

One of the more direct statements in defense of greed, selfishness, lack of concern for others, lack of concern for the future, disregard for laws, disregard for community, lack of concern for integrity, etc. (I’m getting tired), that I have seen in a long time. But it’s quite characteristic of the blindered, money-lusting bunch that has dominated Half Moon Bay for most of its history.

Steve,

Whatever your definition of “weed” is, the site isn’t as important as the political precedent of AB 1991. Look at the organizations that oppose AB 1991 from all over the state. And before you say they’re all a bunch of enviro-whateveryoucallthem: note the League of Women Voters among them.

AB 1991 is a bad bill, pure and simple. If it passes it will cost HMB more in legal fees to defend it than will fit into the $5 million ABAG insurance is paying the city.