Another bill to exempt developer from the law submitted to Assembly

Posted by on Mon, June 9, 2008

In an obvious parallel to Half Moon Bay’s AB1991, a Los Angeles developer is attempting to get the state legislature to pass a special exemption so he can develop 229 homes on a golf course that the city wants to keep as open space. As a bonus, the law appears to be a gift to the developer in exchange for a campaign contribution, reports the LA Times.

The company, MWH Development Corp., wants to construct 229 homes to replace the 63-acre golf course in Tujunga, which is not in Fuentes’ Assembly district. The firm is headed by San Fernando Valley developer Mark Handel, who said former Los Angeles Building Commission President Scott Z. Adler is a partner in the project.
"I was disgusted," said Councilwoman Wendy Greuel. "We believe Sacramento should not be trying to dictate land-use policy on city matters. We also don’t believe legislation should be designed to benefit one developer."
Greuel said Handel’s true goal is not to develop the property but to sell it at a profit. At the same time he is pushing the legislation, he is talking to the city about a possible sale of the land to the city, which would maintain it as open space. Greuel says Handel wants permission for the high-density development to raise the property’s value so he can get a better price.

The Times says the bill "was written so it applies only to the city of Los Angeles and makes changes that would specifically address Handel’s wish to build on the golf course site."

This certainly puts the whole notion of “no precedent” into a new light.

AB 1991 “sets no precedent” claims the Half Bay City Council’s so-called “Truth Squad” (conceived and operated by professional lobbyist Lanny Davis).

The citizens of HMB need a Truth Squad to correct the lies told by the City Council’s Truth Squad.

The LA Time story shows that AB 1991 is a template for all kinds of future abuses.

And here is another example of the damage done by the HMB City Council. By caving in to Chop Keenan’s lawsuit rather than fighting it on appeal, the HMB City Council has encouraged another local developer (in Pacifica) to follow the same playbook. This is just the beginning if AB 1991 passes.

Now is the time to fax your letters to State Senators asking them to oppose AB 1991. Our Senator Leland Yee needs to hear from all of us that we oppose this destructive bill.

Here’s another article in the Trib showing what can happen if a city doesn’t just roll over for a judgement against it in favor of a pushy developer:

Here’s a paragraph from the article that gives a strong clue as to how the Ninth Circuit would have treated Walker’s damage award if the City had appealed.

“As a further boon to the city, the Ninth Circuit also found the lower court’s award of compensatory damages flawed. The Ninth Circuit held that there was no actual injury as there was no reduction in value attributable to the challenged condition because development could not go forward until NP obtained a development permit from the Coastal Commission. As the court noted “[e]ven if we were to agree that NP should have prevailed on its equal protection claim, it would have been entitled only to nominal damages.”

Its getting so hard knowing who to believe these days.  There’s the Truth Squad, liars of the Coastal Commission and our own home grown Chicken Little crowd.

Here’s a solution.  Why don’t we take the beautiful weeds that everybody’s so hot for and transplant them in the new mediums being built among HWY’s 92 and 1.  Then we can all marvel in their splendor without getting out of our cars.

And,  of course,  let Beachwood be what it is meant to be,  a neighborhood.

To your other point,  AB 1991 is only for HMB.  The fact that others may try and alter it to suit their special needs is a testimony to the creativity of the American spirit.

If we are lucky enough to get this bill passed,  the Chicken Little crowd can take the credit for its passage.  The current CC is just trying to clean up the mess they inherited.

Steven Hyman,

Why do you call the Coastal Commission liars? Because they’re calling AB 1991 for what it is, namely a vehicle for developers to skirt environmental laws?

How many similar efforts up and down the coast do you have to see before YOU recognize what AB 1991 does?

And while you’re at it, when are you going to answer the simple question—what environmental laws do you support? You’ve been skirting that one long enough now.

Like Rush Limbaugh, “ditto” crowd calling him just entertainment, Steve’s “funny” (you can’t possibly be serious, can you, Steve?”) comment derogating threatened species and relegating them to medians really lays bare his hostility toward environmental law, and a lack of understanding of the science of species preservation. I look forward to his reply to Francis’ inquiry.

If people who share is values were in the majority…we’d be where we are today :-(.

In addition to Francis’ inquiry, I just one more question: aside from the commissions, don’t you like it here?

Steve, the “weeds” that you hate are where they are due to the wetlands.  Transplanting them won’t change the current location from being wetlands.  And they might not survive in a place that isn’t wetlands.  Kind of the whole point—wetlands are special places.


Seems only the CC4 didn’t believe in the strength of a City appeal.

The developer certainly didn’t believe in the strength of his case. He surrendered his $41,100,000 judgment while still retaining the property and instead accepting $18 million in exchange for the property in the City Settlement Agreement.

I guess the City Council Four have to want to win an appeal, to believe in it.

Ken Johnson

Steven Hyman,

I’ll venture a solution to your query: “Its getting so hard knowing who to believe these days.”
Read the post thoroughly, analyze it, check the validity of the content, do the ‘homework’; then, please, don’t hit transmit!

Ken Johnson

The CCC was not forthright in front of the State Assembly, therefore the remark.  But of course its ok to call our officials all sorts of names.  But in deference to being PC,  I’ll now use mis-speak.

As far as the CCC goes,  I would like to see their influence in our area reduced,  especially in terms of needs to go to them for permits. And I’m really talking about the individual property owner,  not the big developers who have armies of lawyers to fight their battles.

I see too many things in my job how ordinary people are jerked around by the endless, rising permit fees combined with slower turn around time to feel otherwise. The entire system needs a major overhaul but that won’t happen.

I along with many people think I’m funny.  But here I’m actually trying to show restraint.

In all seriousness,  its hard looking at Beachwood and taking this infill parcel as anything but that.  It would be a great joke if it wasn’t going to cost the town a fortune. 

Every time I show property,  I point out this site and almost everyone of them has stared in disbelief over it.  Not one person has said things like I see here.

Sorry but I don’t buy into the hysteria coming from the Chicken Little crowd.  And I don’t think the public at large does either.  Hope AB 1991 passes.

Steven Hyman wrote on Jun 11 at 10:26am:
The CCC was not forthright in front of the State Assembly…

Could you elaborate with verifiable facts?

I just watched two videos on which, back to back, gave a clear example of one person sharing a memory of what another person said really not capturing what that person actually said.

Can we find a statement where we can ascertain actual unforthrightness?

It doesn’t get any clearer than the statements made by our mayor who said “The Commission staff has intentionally mislead and knowingly spread false information to the State Legislature…”

Its a sad commentary to the levels people and organizations will stoop to carry out their agendas.  And I’m not referring to our City Council who made the best out of a mess they inherited.

Where is the verifiable fact in that statement?

I was asking for an example of a CCC statement to the Assembly that is verifiably “not forthright”.

Do you have an example?

Go read the City’s lengthy rebuttal of the CCC’s appearence.  And who better than Lanny Davis knows when people mis-speak.

Rather than offer a reading assignment written by someone known for spin, how about a single example that’s clear and “not forthright” and something you’re willing to call out?

Back to the original topic of this thread… The Los Angeles bill with eerie similarities to AB 1991 has been shelved by its author. AB 212 (Fuentes)  was due to be considered on the same day by the same committee as AB 1991.

I’d like to believe the assemblyman belatedly realized the damage he was doing. More likely he was deterred by the publicity that surrounded the deal. As the L.A. Times reported today:

“Fuentes’ legislation ... would have allowed 229 homes to be built by MWH Development Corp.

The firm, its principals and business associates backing the bill have given more than $16,000 to Fuentes’ political campaigns in the last two years.”

Steven Hyman,

You do a disservice to ‘your side’ by insulting the intelligence of the casual reader. By continually asserting opinion and never supporting it by fact, the reader must conclude that there is no validity to any of your statements. You assert, with seemingly a sense of pride, in not only your lack of knowledge of a subject but a sense of pride in your lack of desire to acquire a level of knowledge.

IMHO, Coastsider’s strength is that it offers any opportunity to discuss, in an intelligent manner, areas of public interest for which there is not universal agreement. You are squandering a valuable opportunity for ‘your side’ and by the weakness of your presentation making the case of your opponents!

Ken Johnson


You’re wasting your time with the Energizer Bunny of ideologues. He never changes his tune no matter what facts are presented. Ever.


I’ve stated many facts over and over again.  The bottom line is that we don’t agree. And its likely we will never agree and that’s ok.

You see this land as something special,  I don’t.

You wanted to appeal and I wanted to settle.

You don’t care if HMB files bankruptcy and I do.

I look at AB 1991 as a way to avoid paying $18+ million dollars for something worth a fraction of it.  You see the bill as a way to chip away at the environmental laws.

I could see that that is a remote possibility.  But to me and many other people,  what’s more important is not paying $18+ million.  The other ramifications are secondary to paying $18+ million.

Whether we are civil or insulting (and I didn’t throw the first stone),  it doesn’t change the fact that we view this very differently and most likely always will.

In some ways this has been kind of fun but frankly,  its now going on 6-7 months and we just keep rehashing the same old views and its getting old.


You’ve referred to the “liars of the Coastal Commission”, and it’s fair to ask you to cite a specific lie. Or “mis-speak” now you’ve gotten all PC on us.

Just one lie. How hard can that be?

Steve wrote: “You see the bill as a way to chip away at the environmental laws… But to me and many other people, what’s more important is not paying $18+ million.” 


I have a third way of looking at AB 1991. As blackmail.

Four members of the current City Council chose to enter into a bizarre $18+ million settlement with Keenan that added Glencree (which hadn’t ever been part of the discussion) to the developer’s gift bag, even as they signed away the City’s right to appeal the larger lawsuit.

Now they’re blackmailing the state legislature into bailing them out of a contract they made, on their own, behind closed doors, without considering the knowledge or input of the city residents they claim to represent.

Haven’t you heard this sort of argument before? From a teenager maybe, who threatens to run away if you don’t give him the car for a night? From a daughter who would “rather die” than wear this outfit for a second or third time? Okay, your kids are “mis-speaking,” and they deserve a break, they’re your kids. But they are not a group of adults you elected to represent you.

If you’ve got a problem with the $18+ million ransom your City Council has presented to the state, you might direct your anger (and your sarcasm) at them.

I agree with Francis.

Like all realtors, Steve Hyman thinks about the world using a very simple and proven mathematical formula: More houses = More income for realtors = Good.

Nothing you can say will override his thinking, which is controlled by that formula.

The Half Moon Bay City Council’s thinking is governed by a similar formula:
More houses = More income for Old Guard developer friends = Good.

Steve, although we disagree profoundly on the best interests of the City, I appreciate your candor in coming to the unveiled chat rooms. Many who seem to share your point of view prefer to hide behind pseudonyms in that other chat room.

Kevin, while realtors are driven by profit in a very short horizon, I firmly believe that there are some realtors on the coast who realize that the natural beauty of Half Moon Bay is the goose that lays the golden egg, and that destroying it in the interest of short term is a low NPV option. They usually remain quiet in these debates rather than risking ostricization by their colleagues—after all, less principled members of the profession could retaliate. That leaves honest if myopic guys like Steve as an unrepresentative model of his peers.

Thanks again for having the courage of your convictions, Steve. If you do come up with that lie, I know that you will let us know.


How about a fourth option.  Keenan is a smart dude.  He was also helped by a $41+ million dollar judgment.

You have to admit that this was a very creative settlement with the plan a/b option.  Either way he wins big. And we do all the work.

I think I’ve been vocal about the City too.  We won’t win the Donald Trump award for paying $25+ million (land, legal, G&A;, etc) for something you can hopefully sell for $3-5 million.  That is if you can even find someone who would want ot buy this troubled property.

I have also been calling for the City to pay off the debt (should AB 1991 not pass) by selling off some of their many real estate holdings.  We residents shouldn’t have to pay for their failures in governance. 

And if the City has to pay for their mistakes out of their own pocket,  they will be less likely to do this again.

And to Kevin,  yes greed is good.  I like making money.  But I’m not rushing out to buy my new Mercedes tomorrow because of all the Beachwood homes I’m going to sell.  That isn’t going to happen for many, many years.  And I want my new car now.

I just read the article. Can you tell me where there is actual evidence that this issue in LA is caused by our actual HMB issue, and AB1991? I don’t see how you can claim that this LA issue is using anything related to our bill, which hasn’t even passed. I think you made quite a big leap, and am concerned that perhaps you might be creating some hystery build-up, if you know what I mean.
I think i’ve done what Ken claims he has done: “Read the post thoroughly, analyze it, check the validity of the content,”
and yet find there is no connection at all.


Just in case you are interested in writing a letter on AB 1991 and haven’t already done so.

I apologize for changing the topic.

BTW, Steve,
I guess there is something we agree on: as you wrote:

“The bottom line is that we don’t agree. And its likely we will never agree and that’s ok.”!

Ken Johnson

Growth is good.  More homes means more businesses prosper.  McDonalds sells more Big Macs, the cleaners have more customers,  etc.  Who knows,  we may even buy one of those million dollar traffic lights.

Actually,the only ones who really won’t immediately benefit from these new homes are the realtors.  Most big builders use in-house staff to sell directly to the public thereby cutting out most of the commissions.  They only use us when they get down to the last few homes.

So to blame all realtors as greedy people salavating over big fees from all these homes is incorrect.  If things go the way they usually do,  we won’t see hardly anything from this project.

So my support for ending this long running nightmare isn’t cause I’m going to make a fortune on commissions,  I just don’t see the logic in the endless arguing over this infill parcel within driving distance (and I mean golf) to my favorite restaurant.

Personally,  I think you picked the wrong battle to make this your Custard’s Last Stand. 

It certainly has made this sleepy little town interesting.  And to think we have Lanny Davis too.  If it wasn’t for the staggering amount of money,  this whole thing would be hilarious.

“Growth is good.”

Why? How, for example, has growth helped Half Moon Bay over the last, say, 50 years? Is Main Street healthier? Traffic better? Granted, we have more gas stations and fast food outlets, and more stoplights, but I don’t think I’d count any of those as a plus.

What are we shooting for? Pacifica? LA?

And for the record, I wouldn’t ever say that all real estate salesmen are greedy people salivating over Beachwood.

But Steve, about the example of a lie? When you find the time, just one, please.

Steve, (or anyone)

Just how much money has been spent on Lanny Davis and the entire PR campaign from when it was conceived to present.  It was $350,000 several months ago. Somewhere I read it is approaching $1,000,000.  True? 


“Growth is good.”

In the same narrow, self-centered, short-term sense, cancer is good if you make your money as an oncologist, care facility, drug company, or some other business dealing with the disease. Indeed, cancer is a form of growth.

In the natural world, growth is balanced by decay, births are balanced by deaths, uplifted mountains wear away, and so on as the overall systems and processes maintain. Artificial activities, artificial growth can be considered positive only to the degree that it can be sustained indefinitely. Beyond that, in what is called “overshoot,” growth is disease and degrades that on which it draws.

And so it has been in HMB and the unincorporated midcoast for quite a few years now, with a few benefitting financially and most suffering the higher costs of increasingly scarce resources, overloaded infrastructure, subsidization of growth and wealth-building for a few through higher taxes and larger payments for governmental services and facilities needed to support more development and people, and on and on.

The growth ethic is supposed to be accepted on religious-like faith, as there is no empirical evidence unsustainable development, limitless growth, is of any long-term benefit whatsoever to a society or community. There is lots of evidence to the contrary.

Growth is good.  Its the life blood of any community.  Look at some of the rust belt towns and you’ll see what negative growth does.

HMB will never look like Pacifica.  First,  there really aren’t that many unbuilt and buildable lots left.  Many of the lots in N Wavecrest,  for example,  won’t get built in my life time.

And this growth myth here is really over played.  We can build around 100 homes a year on the Coast and we don’t even have the demand for that.  On an earlier post I checked how many lots sold in 1 1/2 years and it was way below the annual amount.

Building has become such an expensive and time consuming pain,  that most people shy away from it.  And I can’t say I blame them.  But that’s too bad for the property owners,  many of which have owned these properties for decades.

And to answer your question about the mis-statements from the CCC,  I am using info from our Mayor.  The fact that she had to call out another state agency shows the lengths some people will go to sink this bill.

Like I said,  most of you won’t agree with me but hopefully we can be civil.  But if not,  I have thick skin and can dish it out too.  And more importantly, I’m having fun.

The decaying parts of the rust belt are that way because they could not be sustained, not because they did not continue to grow.

The info from the mayor in HMB is bogus, paid-for spin. The material written by the Truth Squid should be an embarrassment to every independent-thinking, well-meaning citizen of Half Moon Bay. But in an atmosphere where many seemingly buy, without questioning, the philosophical snake oil that “growth is good,” you can only question whether or not the necessary knowledge and self-reflection needed for embarrassment are present.

Hope midcoast people will remember episodes like HMB’s sleazy and destructive promotion of AB 1991 the next time mismanagement of our area by the county seems like too much to bear and voices suggesting annexation to HMB or consolidation of our districts with those of HMB are raised.

“And to answer your question about the mis-statements from the CCC, I am using info from our Mayor.”

Steve, you’re the one who talked about the “liars of the Coastal Commission”. Pointing fingers at Her Honor doesn’t cut it.

I see three possibilities, non of them particularly attractive.

1. You think that the CCC is lying, but you’re not prepared to cite even one specific lie.

2. You don’t think the CCC was lying. That would explain your inability to cite a specific lie. Calling that non-PC badly understates the case.

3. You had no idea whether the CCC was lying, but you asserted that they were regardless.

Steven Hyman,

My deepest sympathy for your loss - of any credibility!

Jonathan Lundell not only pointed to your great weakness - never supporting your statements - but he stayed with the point until you had no option but to expose yourself.

Simply stated: your assertions have no there there!

Please call the ‘minders’ and tell them to send another one over to Coastsider; that you were caught in a “depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is” moment!

Ken Johnson

How about the fact that the City and their team of high priced lawyers took the time to dissect the CCC statements and compare them to previous ones.  Therefore the mis-statements. 

And if the CCC tries and flip-flop when this goes to the Senate,  our lawyers will point out those John Kerry moments.

At least the City is trying to get out of the mess they inherited. All I read here is the same failed policies with no new ideas.  Just more of the same.  Blow money on lawyers, appeal, and file bankruptcy.

I’m sure its frustrating.  You keep yelling the sky is falling and nobody is listening.  But you’ve got it wrong, its you have no more creditability.


Lawyers get paid to say what their clients want them to say. As best I can tell, truth isn’t a requirement.

Still no specific examples of the Coastal Commission, namely Sarah Christie, lying to the legislature.

For what it’s worth, as Coastal Commission liaison to the Legislature, she is far more concerned with her credibility among legislators than you.

Don’t expect any flip-flops by the Commission. Their reasons for opposing AB 1991 haven’t changed, and they have an excellent command of the facts.

The City is jeopardizing coastal resources up and down the state to pay for a mess of its own creation.

Where have you read here that those opposed to AB 1991 want more money spent on lawyers, more appeals and the city to file for bankruptcy? You do realize that the city, by its own actions, has foregone those possibilites, don’t you?


How about the fact that the City and their team of high priced lawyers took the time to dissect the CCC statements and compare them to previous ones.  Therefore the mis-statements.

Do you remember where this got started?

Steven Hyman wrote on Jun 11 at 10:26am:
The CCC was not forthright in front of the State Assembly…

And then I had asked:
Could you elaborate with verifiable facts?

It sounds like someone else may have done the hard work for you.

Now, could you elaborate with verifiable facts on your claim that the CCC was not forthright with the State Assembly?

“How about the fact that the City and their team of high priced lawyers took the time to dissect the CCC statements and compare them to previous ones.  Therefore the mis-statements.”

Come on, Steve, show a little personal initiative and name one specific “lie”. (Yes, I acknowledge that you’ve said that “lie” was not “PC”.)

It’s been three days now since you made the claim. Here’s a hint: there’s no shame in asking for help. Get a coach. You won’t even have to admit it; just stand behind your claim.

(As for the high-priced lawyers “taking the time”: they bill by the hour. That’s how they get to be high-priced, Steve. Maybe we should negotiate a 6% commission.)