Letter: LCP prefers low-cost housing at Beachwood as part of a solution


By on Sun, April 19, 2009

The San Mateo County League for Coastside Protection greatly appreciates and thanks Senator Leland Yee and Assemblymember Jerry Hill for their efforts (AB/SB 650) on behalf of Half Moon Bay’s residents in trying to craft a solution to the city’s financial problems due to its ill-considered Beachwood settlement agreement. Besides expressing appreciation, we would like to offer a few ideas we think would help move their bill beyond the mounting opposition from various individuals and groups.
The most obvious problem stems from our legislators’ good intention in trying to obtain $10 million for the city with as few strings attached as possible. This could only occur absent an appraisal of the land’s worth, a nonstarter with the park and environmental folks: they object that this presents a potential abuse of Proposition 84 park bond funds, and we agree that this is problematic. However, there is another way to go that should garner less opposition from this quarter, and that is by reverting back to the funding source for Senator Yee’s previous bill, SB 863, which relied on Proposition 1C housing/park funds.
SB 863 foundered last year because of opposition from housing advocates who objected to the funds going solely to park development. They might well have become allies if housing, particularly lower-cost housing, was proposed on some of the property. Currently the city is updating its housing element and like much of the San Francisco Bay area, seeks to improve the potential for affordable housing. In 2001, the California Coastal Commission approved a Coastal Development Permit for houses on the southwestern portion of Beachwood where there are no wetlands. The city has an opportunity to close ranks and solve several problems at once.
We support limited building in non-resource areas on the Beachwood property as a way to accommodate an objective appraisal process – it is not conscionable that the property be acquired for more than it is worth, and its worth should be fairly determined by an independent agency, such as SB 863 anticipated in designating the Coastal Conservancy, the state agency that specializes in coastal property acquisition and administration. Finally, we believe that SB 863 correctly anticipated the city’s financial needs regarding park acquisition and development.

Respectfully submitted,

Dana Kimsey
Co-Chair, SMC League for Coastside Protection

Consider for a moment the long history of high density, low cost housing found in our major cities and even smaller towns that had a military housing turned in low cost housing after WW II (examples are SF and Lancaster, CA).  It has been shown that low cost, high density housing has been a dismal failure and a nescience and breeding grounds for crime and drug usage.  The Pink Palace and the Geneva Towers are good examples; there is Chicago and St. Louis that imploded there high rises and replaced them with low rise housing.  Although it was not a complete solution, the replacements still eventually became high density and causes a lot of problems, with proper enforcement and community support mixed housing can work. 

Before you complain that I am racist or anti-poor, I offer the importance of having a mixed housing block that is not high density.  This should be a limited enclave of a few Section 8 housing vouchers and a place for the working poor.  There are a lot of teachers, police officers, small business owners that could profit by being good neighbors that look out for one another.

If the Beachwood property were turned into a mixed development, before any passage is approved, Chop Keenan must be paid off even if HMB goes bankrupt.  This is not a solution to extend or delay the payment until the housing is built and sold.  On the otherhand, you can pay the debt and leave it open space unless the “victim” of bad city government still gets rights to build and still get the $18 million that he richly deserves!

The value of the land should be appraised from the period of the time that HMB violated their agreement, not at today’s market value or the value of the 1950’s. 

That is fair and frankly, it was probably worth a lot more than $18 during the claim that was denied because HMB engineered the water problem and they should have to pay punitive and compensatory damages on top of the land value because HMB intentionally created the problem and then said, “Not us?”  This case stems from the 1990 and that says a lot about the expanding economy and valuation for the period. 

I don’t think the $40 million judgement should have been whittled down as much as it was—lucky for HMB.  Now pay up and stop whining and stop your continued political machinations that will cost our state taxpayers more money to bail HMB politicians and planners did to themselves.

Jack Kilpatrick wrote “It has been shown that low cost, high density housing has been a dismal failure and a nescience and breeding grounds for crime and drug usage.”.

Would he claim that the Main Street Housing Project and the Farm Labor Housing Project, both established by the Mid-Peninsula Regional Housing Coalition, are dismal failures?

John: None of the other housing projects I cited were dismal failures at first.  It took time and when they went down the tubes the homeowners, renters were underfunded to correct normal household repairs.  In fact, there are a lot of examples from SF where residents didn’t replace batteries in smoke detectors and then there was a fire with loss of life and the city had to pay up.  If you go tho the housing projects where I work including Geneva Towers, the Pink Palace in the 1970s and early 80’s before I moved down the to SMC/SCC, you discovered that residents broke out lightbulbs to secret their illegal activities, punched holes in walls and otherwise mistreated the property and grounds by their own hand or by visitors to renters of the property. 

In fact, residents of Hillsdale Gardens that has complained about poor repair service, but some of it is not from outsiders, but renters. 

In Lancaster, CA there is so much Section8 fraud, that they specialized in compliance checks and have had a lot of evictions and convictions for fraud.

I think tou may be headed that way if enforcement provisions and accountibility checks are not made or the non-profit is underfunded

“...I think tou may be headed that way if enforcement provisions and accountibility checks are not made…”

Well, the City did recently lay off the code enforcement officer as way to conserve cash needed to pay larger salaries to the City Manager and the Police Chief. So it would not be surprising to see things going downhill fast in the area of zoning compliance, i.e., more and more single family homes turned into multi-family apartment buildings, etc.