Caving in and kowtowing to developers is common in San Mateo County politics


By on Wed, April 14, 2010

NOTE: This letter has been updated by the author.

Board of Supervisors Meeting - April 13, 2010
Agenda Item 11: Midcoast LCP Update

At the Board of Supervisors meeting today Supervisors Adrienne Tissier, Rose Jacobs Gibson and Mark Church showed their collective unwillingness to consider California Coastal Commission suggested modifications to the Midcoast Local Coastal Program.

Supervisor Tissier said, "Growth limits are a catch 22, it’s a no win situation." One wonders why that is a "no-win situation"; certainly there are gains for an entire community, and not just for a few developers, when growth is subject to intelligent controls.  Mark Church said, "The Coastal Commission recommendations are a subjective interpretation of the Coastal Act." This is a no-brainer; all interpretation from whomever is subjective because interpretation is a product of the human brain and imagination. The question that begs to be asked is: Are CCC’s suggested modifications responsible and intelligent.  Supervisor Jacobs Gibson supported Supervisor Tissier’s suggestion that the Board resubmit the LCP Update without any additional modifications.

Board President Rich Gordon, District 3 said he is very concerned about lot retirement leading to weed filled lots in residential areas. He did not evince any concerns about storm water flooding, salt water intrusion, water pollution in Pillar Point Harbor, sea-level rise, coastal erosion and limited traffic capacity on Highway 1. Supervisor Gordon shows due diligence to surface niceties; he cannot tolerate unsightly weeds growing in a few lots but he can, apparently, tolerate avoiding the significant challenges facing the Midcoast.

Supervisor Carol Groom said she would like to have one more meeting with Coastal Commission staff before making a decision. Supervisor Rich Gordon supported Grooms request for one more meeting.  Hopefully the two Supes will use the time with Coastal Commission staff to discuss ways to move the process forward rather than focusing on weed abatement. 

Supervisors Adrienne Tissier, Rose Jacobs Gibson and Mark Church made it clear that they were not interested in meeting with Coastal Commission staff.  Perhaps if they had attended the December 10, 2009 California Coastal Commissionhearing in San Francisco they might be better informed. To help them grasp the complexities of the LCP Update process, all three would benefit from meeting with Coastal Commission staff. If they had asked more specific questions of County Planning staff today they would have learned that resubmitting the LCP Update without any additional modifications is not a reasonable or appropriate next step.

The Supervisors’s fear of lawsuits initiated by developers was punctuated and highlighted by the angry tirade and finger pointing of local land use attorney David Byers. Intimidation is a standard tool in the lawyer’s bag of tricks.

The Supes habitually site the fear of lawsuits as an excuse to turn a blind eye to environmentally responsible land use policy. Fearful thinking is likely to continue ruling the decisions of the Board due to the loss of over 150 million tax payer dollars to Lehman Brothers.

Kicking coastal resources to the curb has short-term benefits for developers and real estate lobbyists. Enhanced coastal ecotourism, recreation, environmental education, and proactive sea-level rise planning provide long-term benefits to California residents.

The environmental catch 22 Supervisor Tissier invokes may be a win-win proposition for developers and supervisors with political aspirations, but it’s a losing proposition for thousands of County residents.