Why can’t the Review be objective about the Pilarcitos Creek park site?


By on Fri, June 22, 2007

No one has done more to confuse public about the Pilarcitos Creek park site than Half Moon Bay Review publisher Debra Godshall.

First, she devotes nearly two-thirds of her Wednesday column to a rambling allegory about a profligate household head who, against the advice of his attorney, buys a piece of land he can’t afford which happens to be infested with California red-legged frogs. Now you know how Ms. Godshall earned her reputation for subtlety.

After wasting several column inches this way, Godshall raises four points against the park. The first two are irrelevant and the second two are unsupported.

Ms. Godshall says that the city spent too much for the land, and that documents were improperly withheld from the public.  I’m not saying these aren’t important issues, but they’re of no consequence in deciding whether to put a park on Pilarcitos Creek.  Every time they are raised in that context, you can be assured that either the commenter is confused or is trying to confuse you.

The Economist aptly defines sunk costs as that which cannot be undone.  Whether the city overpaid (which I doubt) doesn’t matter now that the city owns the land. Should the last city council have shared more of its work product with the citizens before buying the park? I’m not sure. Does it matter now? No, it doesn’t.

Then Ms. Godshall goes on to discuss the cost of the park, asking, "What’s the plan to raise the $10.4 million to make it into a real park?"  That’s a misleadingly precise figure, $10.4 million, considering that the city’s consultants delivered an unitemized and unsubstantiated estimate nearly a year ago. Since then, the city has done nothing to figure out what its options are and what they would cost.

Finally, Ms. Godshall states, "If it is possible to develop the land after an endangered species has been found on the property, it will be a first for the Coastside, by the way."  That argument says that Half Moon Bay will never have proper park anywhere.  Perhaps she should ask how the city plans to deal with the endangered species no doubt lurking in its proposed park site on Sewer Plant Road.

She concludes: "We all want and deserve a park, we just can’t afford this one." Compared to what? Until the city costs out the park on Pilarcitos Creek and the one on Sewer Plant Road, how does she know?

Half Moon Bay must have a conversation about the kind of park it wants and what it is willing to spend. The Review has the opportunity to play an important role in that conversation, but it’s getting off to a poor start.