The Review’s publisher is confused about park financing, democracy


Posted by on Fri, June 15, 2007

Review publisher Debra Godshall has a blog. Good for her. But she has posted to her blog exactly twice in the year she’s had it.  Once to chide a guy named John Lynch on technicalities of residency in Half Moon Bay. And this afternoon she used it to ridicule Mr. Lynch’s circulation of a petition supporting the Pilarcitos Creek park site.

She gives Mr. Lynch what-for, saying that the only way that Half Moon Bay is going to get a park will be through private charity and that he should be raising money, not signatures.

Whatever happened to the idea that real communities figure out how to pay for their own public improvements? Besides, supporters of the park have already said that private fundraising should contribute to the cost of some amenities on the site, along several other public and private sources. And the immediate cost of a park financed with bonds, developed incrementally, and properly funded will be a heck of a lot less than the scary $12 million she cites.

But the immediate priority is to make sure the city council doesn’t kill the possibility of any park forever. Ms. Godshall knows that, so her blog entry today looks more like misdirection than any attempt at a conversation about community priorities.

What disturbs me most is that of all the things that she could comment on from her position in leadership in our community, she chooses to ridicule a citizen on the sidewalk with a petition in his hand.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m proud to call John Lynch my friend.

I’m especially appalled at the comment “get off his duff”.  For a man who just celebrated his 80th birthday, John is off his duff more than most people in this town. 

I’ve seen John at beach clean ups, out distributing food to the less fortunate, hauling donated turkeys, sorting food for the food pantry and spending hours outside collecting money and donations for the holiday Adopt-a-Family program.

If more of the people attacking John Lynch did half as much as he and his wife Jule do, our community would be so much the better for it.  I’m also not surprised that, as usual, most of the naysayers hide behind anonymity.

From me, and the clients of Coastside Hope - we thank you John and Jule.  There’s a special place in heaven for you both.

Thanks Debra for giving us yet another reason not to read the Review.  More thanks to John Lynch for getting off his duff.  I got off my duff also to gather signatures and received a tremendous amount of support for the 21 acre park with both ACTICE and PASSIVE uses.  I’m glad to say that the Review doesn’t reflect the voice of the community I care to call home.
It seems to me that the City Council needs to understand that a huge number of the residents in town want the city to keep the 21 acres we already own and get “off their duffs”, do their job and find the funding that is available. (Please note those “duff” words belong to the Review) One slogan says it all:  If not now, when?
Instead of the Review’s publisher’s usual political labelling, why isn’t there any community activism from that approach?  Helping on the coast for good causes always makes a person feel better about themselves.
God bless you John and all you duffers!

John and Jule, where to begin to praise them for all that they do and have done for the City and the Coastside. Padre has a special place in my heart and I’m not surprised that he is out on the sidewalks with a petition to save a City park. I would say drawing Debra’s attention is the strongest form of flattery and confirmation that he is doing the right thing. lani ream

Debra Godshall is self-serving.  She put the IAFF Local 2400 supporters on the front page of her newspaper with all kinds of positive press for doing exactly the same thing that John Lynch is doing(September 13, 2006 and February 14,2007).  They didn’t have a viable plan to finance the status quo at Coastside Fire.  Why a different standard for John Lynch?  Stoking the fires of controversy at Coastside Fire helps create strife that passes for news and I’d guess criticizing John Lynch reassures the construction and real estate advertisers they are getting their moneys worth in her newspaper.

Is her newspaper serving the public interest or just stirring the pot to assure more tax dollars get wasted for the sake of news and some special interests get taken care of?

Thank you for posting your editorial comments regarding Mr. Lynch and the Pilarcitos Creek Park site.  As a newcomer (less than two years) to this lovely area, I found your editorial as well as all of the information regarding the timeline involved in the purchase very helpful in getting a grasp of the situation.
My comments. like my knowledge of the issue, are limited to the tone of Ms. Godshall’s remarks, and the benefits of a large well developed park to the image and community of a city.
It is very unfortunate that the publisher of our local paper would find it necessary to disparage any citizen for participating in the democratic process.
To scold John Lynch for his community activisim seemed mean spirited.  What we need are the facts involved.  It would have been better for Ms. Godshall to take her editorial time to explain why a city of the size of Half Moon Bay, where real estate values are off the charts, would find twelve million dollars for the development of a park an outrageous sum.
And, why should a senior activist attempt to raise twelve million dollars, and with whose permission and on what behalf could those funds be raised?
Elaine Carrington

Vince, you hit the nail square on the head. It’s probably no surprise, then, that the only reason many people read the paper, if at all, is for Louie Castoria’s column or the classifieds.

Barry is doing a superb job here, but let’s face it, if the Review spent more time taking care of what it was supposed to, we wouldn’t be here having to comment on it.

Well said Frank. Some people are quick to attack community activists, whether they are gathering signatures or distributing lively and informative editorial news and comment.
-Jack McCarthy

There are always 2 sides or 2 ways to look at things. So from a definition standpoint. If one of them is “Community Activist” what would be the right opposing term.

I can hear all the cute, funny, insulting and pithy comments from some but let’s keep them off this so we don’t turn into just another trash slinging discussion.

I actually would be interested if those that feel “Community Activist” is a negative term to imply some bad action, what would they consider a valid opposing term for their views.

It’s high time I joined the chorus of praise for John Lynch that rose in response to Debra Godshall’s mean-spirited blog.

It is indeed difficult to find many individuals, let alone a husband and wife team, who have given so much of themselves to our community as John and Jule Lynch.

For all of us who are sick and tired of the divisiveness on our coast and of the petty partisanship that pervades our community, we need to look no further than to Half Moon Bay Review’s punblisher, Debra Godshall, our own Goddess of Discord and High Priestess of Distortion.

Sofia Freer


Sofia, kinda much (High Priestness of Distortion) don’t you think?

Jack, thanks for the comments on collecting signatures..door to door is an American honor, or sitting at Safeway…been there, done that…

I agree that John Lynch is a good man, and he is 80, but other good men and women can disagree, even if not yet 80, or that may never get beyond 76, huh?

I Really liked Debra’s article on the park.  I think she nailed it.

I repeat…Debra nailed the issue on the park.

She tried to reconcile dreams with fiscal realitites on the coast. I guess common sense may be a rare commodity around this coast, huh?  Like last months legal costs for the city HMB of $480K (But that is another subject, altogether) which does not help building a park at ALL.

I would like to point this thread to the one by Brian Ginna regarding the relative cost of said park, and my postings in that thread to the huge number of parcels ...hundreds…owned for “parks” by various groups on our coast…..AND that never become “parks” for whatever reason..

WHY is that our situation (always money to buy more land ,Never any money to make a soccer field, or boys & girls club, senior center, a park, etc) is the Real question for our coastside community…

Barry, I think we can have a park, and even many parks if we could just meet as neighbors, look at the hundreds of parcels owned in the name of “parks”, get a plan, get movin’,  and stop this incessant yammering…on your blog..

terry gossett

Terry, I agree that we could have parks if we could come together as a community. I’m surprised you’d single me out here. After all, I’m saying that this is a project that can be done and one which I will support.

It seems to me that the “incessant yammering” is coming from somewhere else. We’ve been saying clearly and directly that the city can build a park if it decides it wants a park.

Opponents of a park on Pilarcitos Creek have been crying over spilled milk—the price the city paid, the communication skills of the prior council, the due diligence report—as if the city of Half Moon Bay didn’t already own the park site. That’s yammering, and it’s not going to change the fact that the city owns the site and needs to decide what to do about it. Debra returns to these unhelpful themes in yet another confused column in Wednesday’s paper:

My bet is that any reasonable analysis of the options will show that building a park on Pilarcitos Creek is the best decision.

Barry wrote, “..... any reasonable analysis of the options will show that building a park on Pilarcitos Creek is the best decision.”

And what might those other options be? Condos? Light industry? Whatever we do with the site from a “park” perspective will most likely involve less traffic, require less highway upgrading, and will probably be less of a headache for Stone Pine residents.

The only reason I can see for a lot of sour grapes over the site’s use as a park is that there wouldn’t be any chance for developers and business management interests to get their greasy paws on it.


I think Debra asks some basic (not confused) questions that go directly to the point of this discussion. They are, from her column:

“Why was the land purchased at a price higher than the appraised value and without public input?

• Why was the existence of the appraisal and the subsequent due diligence report withheld from the public?

• What is the plan to raise the $3.1 million just to own the land and have it sit, unusable, as is? What’s the plan to raise the $10.4 million to make it into a real park?

• What’s the plan to overcome the environmental restrictions that will be imposed now that red-legged frogs have been found on the property?

Perhaps these can be editorialized, but they should at a minimum be answered.


This week we have Debra Godshall’s latest “fairy tale”.  I’m not sure whether it is a bad metaphor of Mike Ferreira overcommiting the family to purchase a dream mansion on a toxic waste dump surrounded by disabled(from the toxics) red legged tree frogs or maybe we’re supposed to trust the women in the family to know what the City can afford and to have better real estate acumen.

The “yammering” on Coastsider brought to light what the current City Council in HMB was planning to do on short notice, with very little public awareness with the park land acquired by the previous Council.  Was The HMB Review asleep at the wheel on this issue or deliberately silent?  Look at the timing of the articles and who put the relevant information out first.  Yet again, The HMB Review was dragged into covering this story.  Why?

The questions remain for the residents of HMB. If you suspect the previous Council made a mistake, why would you let the current council make another? Do you trust your current City Council to dispose of the alleged white elephant “Half Moon Bay Community Park” site to some developer at a fire sale price with a promise of favorable zoning?  Will the current City Council, after congratulating themselves on their secret aggressive negotiations with one of their cronies, place all responsibility on the previous City Council?  What will be left over to build parks in your city? 

Don’t accept a fairy tale from your fairy godmother or a bunch of Bloggers spewing “facts”.  Demand transparency and accountability in your City Council.

A whole generation of Coastside children saw their middle school held hostage to Wavecrest.  One has to wonder whether today’s children of HMB will be adults, before the political issues over “Half Moon Bay Community Park” or any collection of parks with its potential are resolved?

I really have to ask for clarification of Mr. Williams’ statement that

“maybe we’re supposed to trust the women in the family to know what the City can afford and to have better real estate acumen.”

Rather than comment on what I think he’s saying (since it would really be off topic here on the font page of Coastsider and perhaps I’ve misunderstood his statement), I will suggest that he take this over to townhall and start a discussion there to clarify his meaing. I must not be the only one who has misinterpreted what he said.

Of course, he could be fearful of those spewing Bloggers

Keep in mind, on the internet no one knows if you really are a woman.

Actually, on Coastsider, you really do have a good idea who you’re talking to. For instance, I’ve met both Vince and Mary and nearly everyone else in this thread, and I’m confident that the two I have not met are using their real identities.

Mary Bordi,

The Publisher of The HMB Review spins a political “fairy tale” and us little folks are supposed to see all the hidden wisdom and none of the sexism.  I’m no expert in “fairy tale” interpretation.  Who exactly is the “he” in Debra Godshall’s political “fairy tale”?  Mike Ferreira, John Lynch, a member of the patriarchy, some incompetent lout or any man?  Why not a “person”?  Can a woman not be the head of a household and aspire to own a home?  Do men have a monopoly on making obstinate bad decisions? Aren’t publishers supposed to be on the cutting edge of political correctness and not perpetuate sexual stereotypes?

There is no need to make veiled aspersions of misogyny or attack my “he"hood by calling me out.  This thread is about what Debra Godshall wrote and what the citizens of HMB are getting from their current City Council.

Charlie, I’ve just posted my response to the issues raised in Debra’s column on Coastsider’s home page. I agree that it’s time for the city to do a fair and rational assessment of its park options, including the costs and environmental issues.  So far, this has not been done. I have no idea why.

Vince Williams

(Thanks for spelling my name correctly! I ‘preciate that!)

I am so sorry if you thought I was attacking your manhood. It certainly wasn’t personal, as I do not even know what you look like—and I would have said the same to anyone, including a woman.

I guess I am from the old school (San Mateo County schools all the way, too!) and look at the masculine pronoun as being used generically as it used to be before the feminists made a big thing about it. Old fashioned as I am, I still assume that when one uses a feminine pronoun they are singling out women. I must try to keep up with the times. Now that I don’t use the old wringer washer I might have more time to educate myself.

And all you folks (not singling Mr Williams out here) using “fairy tale”, well I don’t think I want to go there.

By the way, check out the park topic in Townhall. I posted a link to an interesting letter from POST.

Mary Bordi,

Sorry, I misspelled your last name.

A reasonable presumption for the reader of a newspaper is that a publisher knows how to write or can find someone around the office to edit what they write.

Debra Godshall in her Publisher’s Note said, “I apologize in advance if it reads a little bit like a fairy tale.” Those were her words. Readers upset or confused by her writing have every right to comment on this confusing piece, ask questions, disagree or use the label she supplied, “fairy tale.”