Property rightists are acting like cranks over HMB bailout


Posted by on Thu, April 9, 2009

Barry Parr

Half Moon Bay needs a miracle if it’s going to avoid a crushing debt of $18 million to pay off its Beachwood settlement. The city needs to convince two-thirds of the state legislature to give it $10 million in parks bond money, in a year when our legislators really should be paying attention to more important matters.  The good news is that the city has the support of its state senator and its assemblyman.

The bad news is that the city does not have the support of the property rights zealots who play an outsize role in Coastside politics—particularly with the current city council majority.

At Tuesday’s Half Moon Bay City Council meeting, Senator Leland Yee and Assemblyman Jerry Hill demonstrated they understood the significance of AB- and SB-650 by showing up for a Half Moon Bay City Council meeting and speaking on its behalf. This is something only one citizen bothered to do.

However, one wanna-be city council member and a cluster of property rightists rose to condemn the plan, armed with only two talking points:

  • If the city were to change its definition of wetlands, it could "build the homes we need".
  • Houses produce tax revenues, and parks do not.

There is no evidence that the city can solve its problems by redefining the meaning of "wetlands". The city attorney has said that if it were possible, they would have done it last April, instead of settling for $18 million. Does anyone believe that if it were possible, this city council majority would not have done it?

Moreover, no serious person believes that houses produce more revenue than costs for any city.

Anybody who cares about the future of Half Moon Bay and the Coastside as a community recognizes that any workable solution to this problem is going to involve bringing the community together and sharing the pain. And it’s reasonable for citizens to wait until they know more about the details and implications of AB/SB 650 before deciding whether to support it.

But in their irrational, reflexive opposition to a flawed but honest compromise to save the city from a crushing debt, the Coastside’s defenders of property rights have shown us their single-mindedness.  They would rather see the city crushed than see a wetland go undeveloped.


Raiding Proposition 84 Funds is a Political Crime

Both Senator Yee and Assemblyman Hill propose legislation: SB 650 and AB 650, that “would allocate $10 million to [Half Moon Bay] from a pool of $5.4 billion in Proposition 84 funds that state residents approved in 2006 to protect the quality of California’s water supply. That money would pay for more than half of the $18 million lawsuit settlement the city owes to developer Charles “Chop” Keenan and lay the groundwork for the creation of a community park.” There is no Chop Keenan “water supply” to protect! That bond money (our state taxpayer’s money) was not meant to bail out Half Moon Bay for their bad decisions. What are they thinking? This is more convoluted than Congressional thinking that using taxpayer money to bail AIG and their ilk. In fact, Half Moon Bay should go the way of bankruptcy as should the Big 3 automakers and its suppliers…!

Our taxpayers need their income more now than they need more bonded indebtedness or wasted TARP funds, budgetary earmarks or trillion dollar deficits that are here or forthcoming at the national level. Yee and Hill need to stop circumventing and reinterpreting our laws and propositions and parsing the language (assuming they read their own bills unlike congress); nothing in the Proposition 84 was meant to bail out or prevent city bankruptcy for destructive political decisions.

The politicians also need to know that this is not the “perfect vehicle to bail out Half Moon Bay and create a new local park that could benefit residents of the coastal city and its steady influx of tourists” as Yee and Hill say. In fact, the parcel is on the east side of a highly traveled and dangerous Highway 1 and a considerable distant to the ocean! Tourist rarely use these isolated parks when there are park reserves and grounds at the ocean front!