Environmentalists didn’t kill Measure S

Analysis Updated

Posted by on Wed, July 26, 2006

Source: San Mateo County Elections Office, Chart by Barry Parr
Precinct-level voting for Measure S and LCP candidates. LCP column shows percentage of votes cast for any of three LCP-endorsed candidates. Green boxes are the highest totals on Coastside and HMB. Red boxes are the lowest.

CORRECTION: These numbers are different as of 9am Thursday. The previous version understated the extent to which LCP voters voted in favor of Measure S.

Everyone has an opinion about why Measure S, the school parcel tax, failed to get the necessary two-thirds vote despite widespread support from all sides of the community. Although there was virtually no public opposition to the parcel tax, it received only 62.6% of the votes cast.

Some Coastsiders are blaming those we’ll call—for want of a better word—environmental voters. After all, environmentalists had been engaged in a bitter battle with the school district over Wavecrest for ten years.

This attitude was expressed most stridently in a letter to the editor of the Half Moon Bay Review: "the interests of our children have been the losers here—while the wetlands, the red-legged frogs and those who have their own ‘habitat’ and don’t want anyone else to have theirs, continue to build a moat around this community with the hidden message: ‘Children not welcome here!’"

So, who are these heartless monsters? Looking at the latest results from the county Elections Office, which includes absentee ballots, we found some surprising answers.

It’s conventional wisdom that as you go north on the Coastside, the population gets greener.  Yet Measure S won just 61.5% of Half Moon Bay, 63.2% of El Granada, and 63.7% of Montara/Moss Beach. The only two precincts that gave two-thirds of the votes to Measure S were in El Granada and Montara/Moss Beach. It’s the opposite of what you’d expect if you believed that Measure S was killed by some sort of green backlash.

It’s even more instructive to look at precincts in Half Moon Bay, because we can compare the vote for Measure S to the percentage of the vote in each precinct for candidates endorsed by the environmentalist League for Coastside Protection (LCP)—Grady, Ferreira, and Skinner. If the environmentalists were out in force against the school district and in support of their candidates for city council, you’d expect to see Measure S do poorly where the LCP did well.

Measure S did worse in two Half Moon Bay precincts than anywhere else on the Coastside.  It received a miserable 55.6% in Precinct 3322 (Grandview, Terrace/Silver/Highland, Hilltop, Pilarcitos Park, Chesterfield/Grand/Belleville) and 55.9% in 3321 (Casa Del Mar/Seahaven).  In the city council election, only 44% of the votes in 3322 were cast for the LCP candidates, the second-smallest percentage of any precinct in the city. The LCP received only 45% of the votes in 3321.

More significantly, Measure S did well where the LCP did well. The strongest supporters of Measure S in Half Moon Bay—with 65.9% each— were Precinct 3327 (Cañada Cove/Ocean Corners) and Precinct 3320 (Frenchman’s Creek/Naples/Miramar). These were the LCP’s two strongest precincts. They received a whopping 57% of the votes in Precinct 3327 and 53% of the votes in 3320.

It appears that what you’re being told ("Environmentalists hate the school board and therefore hate our children", or even more simplistically "Environmentalists care more about frogs than they do about children") is false.  And that the Coastside is a place like any other, where the environmentalists are ordinary liberals who would love to spend money on the schools and kids if only Proposition 13 would let them.  And the people who vote against money for schools on the Coastside are just like the people who vote against money for schools everywhere else.

Thanks once again for setting the record straight. Since I no longer subscribe to the HMB Review, I hadn’t seen the June 28 letter-to-the-editor by Mary Ascher which is linked in the above story.


I am someone who considers themselves to be an environmentalist. I voted for Measure S and I publicly supported it. I am a parent of two children in Hatch elementary, and I have spent many hours volunteering in the classroom.

Thus, I find Ms. Ascher’s letter to be quite offensive.  I have to say, however, that I not surprised by her politically-motivated diatribe, given the company that she keeps. Ms. Ascher is a member of the San Mateo County Association of Realtors (SAMCAR). Her spouse is a director of the Coastside County County Water District (CCWD). Neither organization can be described as “environmentally friendly,” to put it mildly.

SAMCAR actively campaigned against the Coastside-voter-approved boundary expansion of the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) in 2004. For years, several of the CCWD directors have been engaged in a PR campaign and lobbying effort to strong-arm the decisions of public agencies that regulate the environmental permitting of CCWD’s water supply expansion projects. In years past, members of both organizations have been some of the loudest cheerleaders for the Wavecrest project. Many of the very same people are now pushing the Big Wave project.


The precinct results show that the defeat of Measure S was due to a failure of the CUSD school board to gain the trust of an across-the-board spectrum of Coastside voters. This happened for reasons that have absolutely nothing to with the false accusations in Ms. Ascher’s letter.  For an understanding of those reasons, see the following:



Thank you for the fine investigative piece that clearly shows 1, that people who support a healthy environment on the coast also support good schools, and 2, that there is a continuing attempt to demonize environmentalists in order to push aside community concerns about over development.

- Jack McCarthy

Going to need to challenge the “conventional wisdom” which seems to be the basis for this “investigative” piece.

First off, comparing these two separate elections in this manner is not a valid comparison.  The major reason is due to the respective turnouts.  The November 2005 election saw a roughly 55%.  This election saw a 48% turnout with only 45% casting a vote on Measure S.  Additionally, the apples to oranges comparison of Measure S to HMB City Council voting is not suitable for drawing links when the overlap is less than 50% of the total votes.

A more suitable comparison, and possible proof of the conventional wisdom, would be to compare the Board of Supervisors race between Ms. Chamberlain and Mr. Gordon. (Hickey left out for these purposes).  If the “environmentalists” came out to vote, they would have surely voted for Ms. Chamberlain over Mr. Gordon.

Start with precinct 3301/2 in Montara (67.4% Yes on S).  Ms. Chamberlain received 26.7% of the votes and Mr. Gordon 59.7%.  Hmmm…not a lot of environmentalists in that precinct, so how do we know they were voting Yes?  3310 in El Granada (69.1% Yes on S) – 33.8% for Chamberlain and 55.0% for Gordon.  Again, much larger support for Gordon, large support for S.  Ms. Chamberlain received 47.5%, her highest, in 3312 / El Granada.  Yes votes?  63.0%  Not real strong support.  Were they voting No?  We cannot tell.

“Precinct 3327… and Precinct .3320. These were the LCP’s two strongest precincts. They received a whopping 57% of the votes in Precinct 3327 and 53% of the votes in 3320.”

3327 - 32.6% for Chamberlain and 52.7% for Gordon; 3320 – 35.3% for Chamberlain and 49.4% for Gordon.  Yes on S?  65.9 in both.  LCP candidates did well (relatively), S did well, but Chamberlain did not.  Environmentalists having an effect?  Who knows?

% by area - Chamberlain / Gordon
Half Moon Bay – 32.0% / 50.5%, El Granada 34.2% / 53.1% and Montara / Moss Beach – 34.3% /53.0%  Higher support for both as you move north from HMB, but still not very “green.”  I believe that the conventional wisdom is more wishful thinking.  Very mixed bag of results which offer no proof that “environmentalists” had a large effect.

I think the most likely reason mentioned here for Measure S failure was that the “No” votes showed up while the “Yes” votes may not have.  The clipped section of Ms. Ascher’s editorial is void of the context of her entire article.  She is referring to “obstructionists” intent on controlling city affairs, not solely development.  The obstructionists used very powerful tools of environmental regulations and friendly authorities to effect such control.  Extrapolation to making her against “environmentalists” or “community concerns” is a big reach and furthers the divide. 

Kevin - if her letter is politically-motivated diatribe, how should we label your comment?

To refute my point that environmentalists were not responsible for the defeat of Measure S using the supervisorial election, you would need to demonstrate a negative correlation between votes for Jo Chamberlain and votes for Measure S. In other words, you must show that Measure S did badly where Jo did well.

Jo’s results are so tightly clustered in the limited examples you cite (32.0% to 35.3%) that I doubt you can.

I don’t find that election indicative of much. Gordon was a shoo-in, so nothing was at stake. Also, keep in mind that many in the environmental community endorsed either Gordon or both Chamberlain and Gordon.

Finally, I disagree with your interpretation of the letter in the Review.  Another quote: “They have voted down five separate parcel tax measures.”  I linked to the letter for a reason. It speaks for itself.

Maybe we need a definition of environmentalist? We may be speaking of apples and oranges even when using that term!

A google of define://environmentalist gives us:

A person who places high values on the environment.

someone who works to protect the environment from destruction or pollution

Environmentalist is a term used to describe an advocate of environmentalism. In general, environmentalists advocate for the preservation, restoration, or enhancement of the natural environment.

With “related phrases”:   skeptical environmentalist, free-market environmentalist, radical environmentalist and environmentalist movement.

Check them out for yourself!

The label doesn’t matter. I don’t have good names for either side of this debate. 

My point was that it’s possible to believe in protecting the environment and enforcing the law, and still want the best for our kids. That’s mainstream apple pie values.

To suggest that people who believe in enforcing the environmental laws don’t care about kids (or are against them) is propaganda and demonstrably false.

For those of you who are still awake, I just did a similar analysis by precinct of Chamberlain’s vote relative to Measure S. There was a slight positive correlation between votes for Jo and for Measure S (Measure S did a little better where Jo did well), but nothing to write home about. It certainly doesn’t prove that Jo’s supporters don’t like kids.

A scatter chart can be found here:


I don’t think environmentalist can really be defined. It’s more an innate characteristic of both organic and inorganic members of our world. It is a built in mechanism that insures the harmonious interaction of all species for continued existence.

Bonus Questions: What President established the EPA and NOAA? What President and Senior Senator - NCLB? Labels don’t tell all!
[Answer: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) formed at behest of President Nixon. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) – Senator Edward Kennedy and President Bush.]

Barry Parr and Ken Johnson say that “The label doesn’t matter” (Barry) and “Labels don’t tell all!” (Ken).

I agree! Labels tend to classify us into a narrow niche.

So I wonder what all this flap is about Measure S and Environmental Voters. Is that a label? Mary Ascher’s “strident” (Barry) letter to the local print paper did not mention environmentalists. She mentioned a “small, but vocal, group of self-appointed arbiters of community values”.

Heck, from any perspective that could be “the other side”.

However, in my opinion, it was not a waste of time to present the analysis of the vote, or whatever it is—I am not a student of statistics. This is a good chance for folks to decide if there is in fact that small vocal group and who they might be. And what they might be—environmentalist, anarchist, developer, no-growther (can I say that here anymore?), tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, feminist, Native American chief, fire chief, fireman, firewoman, fire eater, mail carrier, female mail carrier, dot commer, franchise owner, hod carrier, drayman, dairy maid, student, butcher, baker, candlestick maker, Priory of Sionist, bull rider, pumpkin grower, circus clown or gardening grandma.

Any way you look at it, Coastsider is a great place to get to know your neighbors!  :)

The letter was clearly designed to blame Coastsiders who care about our environment for the defeat of Measure S, and to label them as not caring about children.


First off, the manner in which you accept criticism is admirable.  You want to continue the debate, not attempt to cut off opposing view.

“you would need to demonstrate a negative correlation between votes for Jo Chamberlain and votes for Measure S.”

I am not sure I agree.  If they had an effect, there should be some evidence to support an effect.

“...slight positive correlation between votes for Jo and for Measure S (Measure S did a little better where Jo did well), but nothing to write home about.

I was going to do the chart myself, but knew it would look like that.  The 30-35% “Jo” range is all over the map.  I cannot draw a conclusion either way, so I think the data proves that any influence a particular group may have had would be tough to locate.

I think my point may not have been as clear, and perhaps Ms. Bordi cleared it up.  The group that you labeled and used in the analysis is not a reasonable extrapolation to make from the group referred to in Ms. Ascher’s editorial.  Using environmental regulations as a means to an end (to effect control over city affairs) does not make someone an “environmentalist.”

If Gordon was such a shoo-in, why did Ms. Chamberlain run?  Just to take pot shots at Mr. Gordon?  I find the tone and tenor of her remarks quite fascinating.


Is the direction in Coastside politics going to continue to be the “identification” of extreme groups and ideas (on both “sides”) so others look moderate in comparison?  Seems more like creation than identification.

Brian writes: “Using environmental regulations as a means to an end (to effect control over city affairs) does not make someone an “environmentalist.””

Are you saying they’re motivated by something other than a respect for the environment and the law? That assertion would be as unproven as the one that they don’t care about kids.

The folks you seem to be describing (earlier you called them “obstructionists”) are LCP voters and candidates.

But Measure S did best where LCP did best. LCP voters look to me like stronger supporters of the schools than their opponents when it comes to putting their money on the line.

[Part 1 of 2 parts]

Thank you Mary Bordi and Brian Ginna…..you beat me to the punch.  As I read Barry’s blog where he responded to a letter to the Editor in the Half Moon Bay Review, our local newspaper, and not this venue, I was struck by the fact that of the 12 comments to his blog/article Barry submitted 4 or 5 of them.  I also noticed that his tone appears to violate his own “civility” policy.

But the most blatent violation of any semblance of journalistic integrity is that his whole blog, as well as ensuing commentary, on this subject is a perfect example of what first year philosophy students, studying logic, learn as the “straw man” fallacy.

[From Wikipedia.com]A straw man argument is a logical fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “set up a straw man” or “set up a straw-man argument” is to create a position that is easy to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent. A straw-man argument can be a successful rhetorical technique (that is, it may succeed in persuading people) but it is in fact misleading, since the argument actually presented by the opponent has not been refuted.
Its name is derived from the use of straw men in combat training where a scare crow is made in the image of the enemy with the single intent of attacking it.]

His “quote” [read corruption] of the message of my letter was (“Environmentalists hate the school board and therefore hate our children”, or even more simplistically “Environmentalists care more about frogs than they do about children”)

I didn’t say either of those things———“straw man” example.

Here’s what I, an environmentalist, do believe:

There is a small group of politically motivated individuals on the Coastside who have been responsible for repeatedly destroying any chance we as a community have of improving our infrastructure [read: schools, after-school opportunities for our children, programs for developmentally challenged young people, repairing and replacing antiquated water delivery systems, making our arterial roadways more user friendly, preventing the establishment of much needed housing for the workers in our community…...these are just a few examples].  They have done this in the “name of” environmentalism; they have used the state and local governmental agencies in the name of environmentalism, and they hide behind the cloak of environmentalism…...but they are not true environmentalists.  I believe this because I and most of the people I have met who have moved to this idyllic spot have done so because we cherish nature.

But we think there is a way to balance both the preservation of nature and the nurture of our community; i. e. the people who live here.  Nor do we believe that no one else should move here.  Nor do we think that a community without economic diversity is necessarily a healthy community.

[End of Part 1] Mary Ascher…See Part 2

[Part 2 of 2 parts]

Much has been written on Barry’s Blog about CCF—Coastside Community First.  This set of beliefs is what we are all about…....we want to, in every case where an important political decision is made, put the community first and balance whatever the community needs with whatever it takes to preserve and protect our fragile environment.

Put Community First, a PAC, has only supported one issue since its inception:

Proposition S.

Although many in the group were disappointed that the school board abandoned the comprehensive Wavecrest project which would have provided the community with a new middle school, a Boys and Girls Club, ground floor retail with lower cost rentals above and housing clustered in such a way that wetlands would have been preserved, nonethe less we saw the need to support the school board and the district in this 5th attempt to raise funding for our schools and our children.

In 2-3 weeks, PCF raised $5,000 and donated it to “Coastsiders for Community Excellence”, the PAC that organized the campaign in favor of Proposition S.

We are the types of environmentalists, who protect our environment, and also protect the future of our community—our children.

Mary Ascher

Mary A: Welcome to the discussion.

Let’s put aside your assertions about all the great stuff for local kids these unnamed people are against, and stay on topic. This story is about a common belief, exemplified by (but not confined to) your letter to the Review:  “They have voted down five separate parcel tax measures.”

Who is “they” and how did they vote down Measure S?

My analysis of the vote shows that LCP voters aren’t responsible, so who was it? How did they put together the votes?

My own theory is that there is a large population who talked a good game about supporting the kids, but either voted against Measure S, or didn’t bother to vote. And that there is more of them in precincts that voted against the LCP.

Barry….....Here is what I said on your blog on June 5:

The following comment was posted by Mary Ascher on Jun 05, 06 | 10:12 am

I echo Ray Olson and the others who have stated their unwavering support for our future decision makers, aka our community’s children, by supporting Measure S.
Our school board members and the parents of our community as well as hundreds of other volunteers are truly making a difference by coming forth with suggestions and plans to improve one of the most important aspects of our Coastside infrastructure…...our schools.

Contrary to what most people think…....this community has never done anything but support our local schools and the parcel taxes have always garnered 60+% majority. 
But, there is always going to be a little band of negative thinkers who put forth the disingenous argument that in order to save our educational system, we must first destroy it by not supporting any attempt to adequately fund it.
We need a supermajority vote of 67% in order to pass this tax.
Listen to your heart, use your common sense and vote yes on S so that we can really support our future.


Barry…....it doesn’t take a lot of people to stifle good works….just a small band of folks dedicated to negativism.

It takes 33% of the vote to vote down a parcel tax; I do agree, that there is always a guaranteed “no” vote in each community, regardless of the merit of the issue.

I have lived in California more than 40 years and have fought for parcel taxes before and after Proposition 13 and so I know that there is always a hard core that is impossible to sway.  I really can’t tell you what that percentage is..but I have participated in enough successful parcel tax campaigns to know that it is possible to pass one..if everyone else truly gets on board..by actively participating and not just paying lip service to its support.

That did not happen this time..although David Gorn, a good family friend of ours, tried mightily to make it happen.

Now, here’s the thing:  many of us who support CCF were told that the reason the “LCP Support” dwindled was because of something we had done. The suggestion was made that somehow the failure of Proposition S was linked to “land use issues” which the Prop S supporters had hoped they had successfully distanced themselves from by abandoning the Wavecrest project. This idea did not emanate from CCF supporters or PCF supporters.  We heard it from LCP supporters who blamed the emergence of the plan to re-explore the Foothill project with diverting support from their folks and against Prop S.

Didn’t you hear that also?

We certainly didn’t start that rumor.  Who did?

Barry, if you agree, as I do, that “real environmentalists” support our community as well as the environment, then let’s try together to “out” the negative influences in this community and band together to find creative alternatives to improving infrastructure (including, but not limited to, our schools) while at the same time making this community more “user friendly” to those who live here.


Mary Ascher

PS: There is another fallacy in your original argument; that all environmentalists support LCP candidates. There are many environmentalists who do not support LCP candidates….thus muddling your statistical argument.

Remember the example in Logic 101?

All apples are fruit does not mean that all fruit are apples………now does it?

Let’s not deal in rumors, let’s focus on the facts.

Your rumor says that “LCP support” for Measure S dwindled because of Foothill Blvd.  But, as you can see, LCP-oriented precincts turned out for Measure S.

And, as I said before, let’s not get hung up on the label “environmentalist”.  Don’t let me put words in your mouth.

If these people you blame for the defeat of Measure S aren’t environmentalists, and they aren’t LCP supporters, who are they?  How are they organized? What’s their motivation?  How do they manifest themselves politically when they’re not voting against parcel taxes?

Mary Ascher wrote:

“There is a small group of politically motivated individuals on the Coastside who have been responsible for repeatedly destroying any chance we as a community have of improving our infrastructure…”

Mary, Just to be clear, who are the members of this “small group”? Does it include people like me who insist that environmental laws should be followed, and also support our local schools and our children, and also care very much about the future of our town?

All good questions….....and I’m relieved that you’re going to stop putting words in my mouth.

Remember…...I only participated in your blog because you chose to put words in my mouth and then editorialize over my responses.

I’m done here.


I’m not editorializing over your responses. It’s supposed to be a conversation. Nobody gets the last word.

I didn’t put words in your mouth. I quoted you and linked to your letter. I then asked you to tell us yourself what your letter meant.

Wow, that Mary’s got a good sense of humor on her.

1. In her letter, Mary blames “*they*” (“that small, but vocal, group of self-appointed arbiters of community values who consistently find fault with anybody who dares to advocate for our Coastside children”) with defeating Measure S.

2. Then she reveals to us (for the first time!) the concept of a straw man!

3. Then she builds, once again, the straw man she built in her original letter—about that small group of politically-motivated people who are against all that is good: Wavecrest, 4-lane Hwy 1, Big Wave, Boys & Girls Club, etc.  And she does this while apparently oblivious to the irony of her own statements!

Of all the places where one might start, let me say this:  I’m quite familiar with many of the people who Mary might consider “Them.” In fact, I’m proud to count myself among “Them.”  Yes, we’ve opposed so many of the “improvements” that she mentioned because WE DON’T *HAVE TO* DEVELOP OPEN SPACE TO IMPROVE LIFE ON THE COAST!  Being fairly well-educated ourselves, we can tell the difference between someone who’s setting out to do good, and someone who’s doing some good in order to get property developed.  Do these people honestly think that we don’t recognize the pattern?  “How can you be against _____ [development project]?  Aren’t you FOR _____ [excellent, altruistic cause]??”  Jeez, we weren’t born yesterday.

Besides, all of “them” with whom I talked joined me in voting FOR Measure S.  Having kids of our own in school, constantly volunteering and writing checks, and being committed to excellence in public education, we’re all too familiar with how desperately our schools need money.

On the other hand, the Californians for Property Rights site lists, under “like-minded groups,” the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Assoc.!  HJTA’s “Know the Opposition” section trashes the California Teachers’ Association, and ends with piece AGAINST the Classroom Learning and Accountability Act (a $50 prop tax for schools).

Maybe Mary would have better luck finding “them” by looking a little closer to home.


Hi Barry,

It appears, as I read this thread of comments, that Mary did not start commenting here to hold a conversation.  Certainly, she has no intention of enunciating to us who “they” are in her mind. 

One thing strikes me as humorous in her posts: the drumbeat of what appear to be intended as “insults” towards Coastsider.com, by constantly repeating the term “blog”.

While LCP are demonized as “extremists”, Coastsider.com is now being demonized as a “blog”.

Perhaps you should reindex this thread under the Humor category. :-)



The point of Barry’s editorial is that the two precincts that utterly defeated Measure S—Highland Park/Terrace and Casa Del Mar—are the same two precincts that overwhelmingly voted against LCP candidates, so we are not talking about “a small group of individuals,” which is an absurd notion really, but sizeable neighborhoods within HMB’s city limits that have gone negative for more than a single reason: i.e. the Terrace stoplight, CUSD’s power play with the athletic fields, few children living in these “mature” neighborhoods, etc..

I can speculate along with the most imaginative readers about what all the reasons are, but don’t see where that gets us anywhere except more tiresome quibbling. When negativity is in the air, it’s easy to vote “NO,” or not vote at all.

ken king

Mary Ascher,
A few Facts you missed:
June 1996 Measure K won with 74.90%;
November 1999 Measure C lost with 55.99%!

Your letter, http://www.hmbreview.com/articles/2006/06/28/news/letter_to_the_editor/story4.txt
“They won’t support the Cabrillo Unified School District because they don’t like certain school board members.” [You never identify: “they’]

School Board:
Measure K: Ken Jones, Ruth Palmer, Marina Stariha, Ken Wilson, and Burt Jones.
Measure C: Ken Jones, Ruth Palmer, Marina Stariha, Ken Wilson, and Dwight Wilson
Given, Dwight is not particularly likable - but a 20% difference?

Measure K: $35,000,000 twenty-five year Bond
Measure C: $125 4 years Parcel Tax
Maybe it was the extra $125 a year; but I don’t see any evidence for that.

OR do you think it might be the ACTIONS of the School Board Members?
-After THREE AND A HALF YEARS, all we had was a drawing of a new school [in fact, after TEN years, all we have is a drawing of a new school!]
- The School Board Members chose North Wavecrest, over much objection, in a bizarre series of land deals [North Wavecrest has had a variety of land development proposals that were ‘just around the corner’ since the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake – and still waiting].

Cunha needed to be rebuilt in 1976 when I first saw it in detail.
By November 1999 [Measure C], I concluded the School Board lacked judgment, accountability and financial wisdom.

November 5, 2002
Jolanda Schreurs, Dwight Wilson and Roy Salume ran on ‘Wavecrest Forever’.
[November 2, 2004: Charley Gardner the same]

A group of mothers, tired of waiting for a new school – SEVEN YEARS – brought in
November 4, 2003 ballot Measure D; “BUILD OUR SCHOOL NOW”!

CUSD response: Resolution NO. 22-03 OPPOSING BALLOT MEASURE D
Kenneth E. Jones, President
Ruth A. Palmer, Clerk
Roy Salume,
Jolanda Schreurs,
Dwight Wilson,

Had it not been for the above CUSD Trustees, we would have the middle school built and be MILLIONS Of DOLLARS ahead!

I’ve seen a number of references to “Obstructionists” in your Review – seems the School Board members above are in the membership.

Mary, voters don’t support when they can’t trust; but I still don’t know who “They” are.

Ken Johnson

Ken Johnson wrote: “I still don’t know who “They” are.”

You probably didn’t get a chance to read Dan Blick’s Jul 29, 06 | 12:41 comment. He tells us. It’s up there ^ someplace. Read it yourself, I ain’t a gonna put words in his mouth.

This may become confusing, what with multiple Marys. I’ll be Mary B and Mary A can be Mary A. How cool is that? (I’m a little jealous of her becoming Mary the coastsider.com humor queen, though.)

I don’t want to put words in Mary A’s mouth but…you guys are a little bit tetchy and conclusion-jumping when you accuse her of intentionally insulting coastsider.com by calling it a “blog”.  What if she called it a bulletin board or a forum? To some folks an online place where someone posts their daily thoughts and others can comment appears to be a blog. I regularly help out a friend who can’t tell the difference between a web browser, a search engine and his email. Honest! (Let’s just hope he is so technolgically challenged that he won’t see that comment…)

Mary A, if you are still reading in this thread—may I call it that? If not, Barry, Dan. Hal, Ken K and Ken J (how cool is that!) please give me the proper teminology) umm, where was I? I hate it when that happens… oh, yeah, Mary, you must be irritating these guys because they are coming out in force. Don’t give up! Remember, when they are here replying to us they can’t be out taking pictures of farmers plowing. 

Anyway, it makes for interesting reading! As Barry says, it’s the Silly Season. Everyone is on vacation and no one is reading here anyhow.

Mary B

Here’s the ironic thing about the word “blog”:

I don’t object to it, but it seems that some folks who apply it to Coastsider think they’re insulting me. Some people (who will remain nameless) only call Coastsider a blog when I’ve annoyed them.

But I’m not even sure they know they’re doing it.

Mary Bordi,
I wasn’t concerned with Mary Ascher’s use of the word “blog”. Now, calling the “Review, our local newspaper” should be out of bounds – calling the Review a newspaper was an insult to journalist.

You were right:
“You probably didn’t get a chance to read Dan Blick’s Jul 29, 06 | 12:41 comment.”
I went back to 12:41 to find it and couldn’t find it. Then it occurred to me, you have two 12:41s in your day and I only one [depends on perspective, doesn’t it?]. Now, I found it:

“In her letter, Mary blames “*they*” (“that small, but vocal, group of self-appointed arbiters of community values who consistently find fault with anybody who dares to advocate for our Coastside children”) with defeating Measure S.”

I guess it is easier when you start with a conclusion and go on from there without ever seriously examining the original premise.
Statement: X is beneficial; anyone who questions X is a %#%# - aka “they”?

It was once accepted dogma:
‘The sun revolves around the earth. Mankind is the center of all. Anyone who questions that is a heretic and must be punished.’

“Absolute truths” must never be questioned?

Sounds like “they” is a code word for a small group who courageously exhibit the ability to think! 

Ken Johnson

Certain people don’t like our local newspaper? That’s too bad.  I know people who have canceled their subscription because they also took offense or didn’t like what was written. Maybe they would like to go back in time and read censored news. I for one have 3 subscriptions to the Review, two of which I’ve purchased for my daughters.  Both my HMB born girls who have moved enjoy reading it.  One of their husbands is a local boy as well.  I still miss the old HMB paper when Mr. Bauer used to write about “Night riders struck the xxxx farm” [ripped off pumpkins] or “smugglers were known to frequent the area”. It made me feel like I was in a past century.  In those days news must have been slow as you would read about night riders & smugglers for a couple of issues. Lighten up please, so the HMB Review is not the NY Times. Read it for what it is, shake your head or laugh, I do…it’s still our town’s news.

Sam Carrieri’s comments about the night riders and smugglers brings back those old days. Anyone remember Alice Mattei’s Pescadero column? “Mr. and Mrs. Manuel Silva of San Jose were in town on Saturday visiting friends.” Marian Miramontes also had a column. Who would have thought that a trip to pick up a case of motor oil would get your name in the paper! (Those who don’t “get it” haven’t lived here long enough!)

And regarding Ken Johnson’s July 30 5:35 PM comment about Mary A’s letter to the editor…well! I’m trying to grasp what he is saying. I don’t get it. As far as I can see she was voicing her opinion and yet Mr. Johnson is going on about absolute truths, premises, conclusions and the like.

It was her O P I N I O N. You are certainly welcome to your opinion of her opinion. I just wonder why you feel you have to spend so much demonstrating to us folks how wrong you think she is. If she’s so dead wrong and it’s so clear, why bother?

Uh, that was a rhetorical question.  :)

Mary B. Thanks for reminding my senile old mind about those columns. I think I still prefer to read those stories but now all I read about is all the alphabet groups we have on the coast now. All agreeing to disagree with each other. Oh well, such is progress if you can call it that.

Just now reading this discussion. First off… how can one extrapolate Mary’s letter to be about “environmentalists”? I think that was an uncalled for label in the above article. I believe that most everyone that lives on the coastside cares for the environment and so would be considered environmentalists. I think where there has been the most disagreement is in regards to “zero development on the coast”. To meet this agenda many tactics are used, including, but not limited to, looking at environmental impacts, which are sometimes at odds with the needs of the community. And heh, if you happen to not be of this mindset well then let’s make sure you are not appointed to local positions, including our school board.

We are currently paying the price for a specific agenda of ensuring zero development on our coast.

And why on earth is someone bickering about whether this forum is a blog? And why would you disagree that the HMB Review IS our local newspaper? Is there another newspaper?


Some questions, and a challenge, from Joel Farbstein.

I just KNEW someone on Coastsider.com would eventually take potshots at the HMB Review. Doesn’t matter that it was just a delivery vehicle for the message; this time it was Ken Johnson doing the bashing.

Funny, but don’t many LCPers think “Voice of the Coast” is a newspaper? (The last issue was published when? When it was endorsing Steve Skinner?)

And isn’t it interesting that, in another thread, Skinner complained that a School Board member should have spent more time on education and less time thinking about transportation issues. If Skinner harbors any political aspirations I find his comments baffling for several reasons, including:

1. Some percentage of people voted against Measure S because it DIDN’T include busing. For those people, that School Board member was addressing their concerns. (Me, I’d prefer to let the School Board tackle education issues INSIDE the classroom and not on the roads.)

2. Why did no Coastside.comer comment that perhaps if Skinner spent more time on his license, or proposing solutions and not finger-pointing, he might be serving as a City Councilperson today?

3. I don’t recall Skinner objecting when he was endorsed by “Voice of the Coast,” which is edited Scott Boyd. Last time I checked, Boyd was, well lookee here, an elected official. Should he, too, have spent 100% of his time on water issues, or was it okay for him to write that publication? (Personally, I think elected officials can multitask. And in fact hope they do.)

But about the original thread, I’d like to challenge a person from the 38% “No” vote side of Measure S—someone who claims to be FOR improving education on the Coast—to be the author of a parcel tax initiative. Write it as you see fit. If 62% of the Coast is FOR Measure S, and just 3% voted No because it didn’t include busing, write the initiative without the school board’s help. Include busing or not, your call. You know 62% will vote to tax themselves to improve education. And you’ll go down as a hero to kids, and parents. What do you have to lose? -Joel Farbstein

Sam & Mary,

Why on earth would I need the HMB Review when I can get local news AND a FREE exchange of ideas here on Coastsider?

I don’t blame the Review for having its biases.  For the Review—or any publication—all you have to do is “follow the money,” and you’ll know who calls the shots.  The biggest advertisers get their point of view promoted in the paper.  It’s “pay to play.”

That’s why Coastsider is so great.  The opinions of the authors, writers, and contributors aren’t filtered or suppressed in order to placate advertisers.  No editor is without bias, and Barry has his own, but at least his biases aren’t bought & paid for.

I dumped the Review when I saw so many blatantly false & idiotic articles and statements coming from the pro-development side, but the rebuttals and counter-arguments were suppressed or held from publication, for whatever reason.  The Review *is not* a level playing field.  The Coastsider *is*.

Sam, the Review doesn’t have any entitlement to “The Town’s News.”  In my view, Coastsider has made a compelling claim to the title, especially with Barry’s coverage of the Slide.

The overwhelming one-sidedness of the Review, especially on local politics, has completely alienated a large number of Coastside residents.  The Review created the vacuum that Coastsider now fills.  Now the Review is preaching to the choir. A smaller choir.

I suppose I’ll pick up an occasional Review now & then when my children are older so I can read about them and their friends in Mark Foyer’s excellent sports column.  But other than that, why bother?

Go Coastsider!


Coastsider.com is a great web site, with a discussion board.. but it is not a newspaper. I currently cannot go to coastsider.com for every local issue, but it is a good start. Plus, I can’t read coastsider.com while eating breakfast at the hmb coffee house. That is unless I brought my laptop ;)

Ray, Thanks for your comments. I agree Coastsider.com is a great site. But I can spill coffee on my HMB Review without having a meltdown, if I did it on a laptop [if i had one] I’d cry. Still I like turning pages & you can hide behind a newspaper if someone (an ex or someone you don’t like walks into the coffee shop.) And the paper will keep rain or gull poop off your head! Also, I think most people are smart enough to realize what’s biased and who paid to get their mug in the paper. So I laugh at The Review shake my head but keep subscribing. Life’s too short to hold a grudge even if it’s an inanimate object like a newspaper. My life’s getting shorter by the minute!

Ray says: “I believe that most everyone that lives on the coastside cares for the environment and so would be considered environmentalists”.  That’s one way to define the term so as to make it meaningless.

He goes on to say, “We are currently paying the price for a specific agenda of ensuring zero development on our coast.”  There is no evidence that a zero-dev cabal defeated Measure S. Or that one exists.

I think Joel has a point.  The unfortunate decision to remove transportation from Measure S probably contributed to its defeat. The school board’s admission that they had wasted five years or so on Wavecrest probably didn’t help, either.

But neither of those things has anything to do with how you feel about growth or the environment, as the voting record shows.

Joel Farbstein,
I love a straight line so neatly served up, TRY:
Opinion: Support the Citizens’ Alternative Parcel Tax measure
Opinion by Ken Johnson on Jul 31, 06 at 4:37 pm in Schools

The following comment was posted by Joel Farbstein on Aug 01, 06 | 5:45 pm
“But about the original thread, I’d like to challenge a person from the 38% “No” vote side of Measure S—someone who claims to be FOR improving education on the Coast—to be the author of a parcel tax initiative. Write it as you see fit. If 62% of the Coast is FOR Measure S, and just 3% voted No because it didn’t include busing, write the initiative without the school board’s help. Include busing or not, your call. You know 62% will vote to tax themselves to improve education. And you’ll go down as a hero to kids, and parents. What do you have to lose? -Joel Farbstein”

Ken Johnson
P.S. Joel, now prepare to be accused of being a part of some “they” group.


I get the feeling you were referring to something different than what is being served up by Ken at the following URL:


Based on the posting activity there, I would give that a big DOA.

Any reason why that person should be trusted to develop something that represents anything but his own views?

Hi Barry,
You stated this:
“There is no evidence that a zero-dev cabal defeated Measure S. Or that one exists.”
Not directly, but perhaps indirectly. A main theme for those wishing to defeat Measure S was: “I do not like the board, nor do I trust the board with any decisions, so I do not wish to give them any more money”. Now, this statement has nothing to do with the merits of S, but rather who is on the board at the moment. But perhaps.. if everyone on the board happens to be for preventing any sort of development on the coast, would the above theme have changed??

Ray Olson wrote:
“...how can one extrapolate Mary [Ascher’s] letter to be about “environmentalists”?...I think where there has been the most disagreement is in regards to “zero development on the coast”. To meet this agenda many tactics are used, including, but not limited to, looking at environmental impacts, which are sometimes at odds with the needs of the community.”

Ray, you are now the one who is extrapolating from people’s legitimate concerns about environmental impacts to some conjured-up agenda for “zero development on the coast,”(as you put it), which cannot ever happen.

By the way, when you say “the needs of the community,” who defines those needs? Is it real estate agents? The Chamber of Commerce? Property-rights activists? Developers?

Finally, no matter how you define the “needs of the community,” that does not give any group the right to ignore environmental laws or vilify people who try to uphold them. The latter is what Mary Ascher was trying to do in her letter, which is why it has generated such a reaction here.

Comment 42
Wed, August 2, 2006 12:16pm
ken king
All my comments

I puzzled over Joel Farbstein’s Tuesday evening post being unable to make some of his connections. (It did have a nice kissy-kiss to the Review though.)

First he implies that Ken Johnson belongs to LCP, which is not and has not ever been the case. I think Farbstein refers to this as “shooting from the hip”.

Swinging from that dubious premise, Farbstein assails Steve Skinner, who does belong to LCP and who supported Measure S, making him an inadvertent ally of Farbstein’s. Farbstein’s pique is directed at Skinner’s point in a different thread that Charlie Gardner would have benefited Measure S more if he’d spent time focusing on that rather than promoting Foothill Blvd and Big Wave for his new-formed Coastside Community First group. Farbstein’s barbs don’t dilute the truth of Skinner’s observation.

Ray Olson,

Trust – you hit the key word. An average board meeting has 3 members from the public, including the TV person. Those few who have attended, know that they are not well received if they differ in any way with the board majority. 

But all voters know that after paying for a decade, there is still no new school and that the cost has roughly doubled in that decade. Many know that the district is judged failing academically. Many know that there are other schools in the County that receive less money and have a more challenging student demographics and yet do considerably better than CUSD.

I suggest that the public’s key item in whether to go to the polls and vote yes was: ‘do I trust the school board’s decision making on how to spend my money.’

Ken Johnson

Brian Ginna,

Thanks for the ‘praise’.

If you don’t like the Citizens’ Alternative Parcel Tax measure, where is your solution?


Ken Johnson

I agree with the point you made in your last paragraph. And, I also believe that the environmental laws you speak of are definitely not black and white. An example of this is the loose definition of “wetlands” that is sometimes applied, and sometimes not applied, in order to meet a desired objective. This is just one example. Another example is the reason for considering a tunnel rather than the original solution Caltrans had proposed. I believe one of the reasons for being against the Caltrans proposal was the effects it would have on the red-legged frog (please correct me if I am wrong). I’m not trying to debate this previous decision, but what I want to get across is that it was ultimately based on a few people’s opinion (guesstimation) as to the effect the road would have on a habitat. The law is not black and white in this area, but again a tactic used to further an objective.

When I mean needs the community, I mean is it in the best interests of the folks that live here on the coast. Examples are: Still no middle school, still no boys and girsl club, still no tunnel(Caltrans solution would have been done by now), inadequate water supply (way too many wells in our community), roads not designed for the current population, etc.

However, personally I think there were other reasons why Measure S failed. It is based on figuring out why the “Yes” vote did not come out. It is tough to say, and Barry’s information is good but it doesn’t really point to any certain conclusion. I think Measure S can not be compared to the past attempts because things had changed: the tax amount increased, folks wanted busing to be included, etc. And maybe more importantly I think some parents have just given up and decided to take their kids to private school. All that was needed was I think 3-4% more (or about 300 votes I think).


The freeway bypass through Montara Mountain was fought for decades, producing thousands of pages of literature on the many very real issues. The red-legged frog wasn’t even on the radar screen, not having been listed until May, 1996—and then listed without critical habitat for it being designated. You are making a totally baseless assumption about the situation. The red-legged frog didn’t enter the picture until the environmental studies for the twin tunnels were being conducted. This was after Measure T passed (overwhelmingly in the communities of the unincorporated midcoast) and the stupid bypass was, at long last, all but a dead issue.

Natural water supplies are what they are. Local water shortages are due entirely to the overdevelopment and overpopulation of our coastside. Only fools develop beyond what resources are available to support development and population in the leanest years to be expected (known from records). There is no magic spigot elsewhere to provide water, inasmuch as the water budget of all of California has long since been exceeded in terms of what can be sustainably drawn for human activities.

Want a better coastside for your children? Get going on de-development projects that will improve the area to what can be reliably sustained. No blind faith, no magic spigot, no horn of plenty. Your children deserve better security than that kind of goofiness can provide.

Carl May

Sorry Carl but I don’t buy that propaganda about either the tunnel nor the water supply. Believe what you want to believe but I vividly remember the time prior to the vote on Measure T and the emphasis on the habitat reduction of the frog, and other environmental impacts related to the road. Also, we are definitely not unique when it comes to water supply for the coast. Just look at the central california coast for example and the requirements they had for additional water supply. It can be done. You sort of backed my position when you stated “thousands of pages of literature” in that it is not related to a black and white law, but what certain experts believe or disbelieve. That was my point.

I think you proved my point as well when you state you do not “trust” the board. So that means we all pay because you want to make measure S fail? Also, I had proved that we are not getting the funding that the other districts are receiving, in fact we are below the state avg funding. So from all angles there is NO benefit to our schools and our children when Measure S failed. In fact it has been all negative, for example we have currently lost 3 great teachers, and now our music program at Hatch is in jeopardy. Please tell me what we have gained with measure S failing (you have never answered that question)?

So if I disagree with a couple of Ken’s points, do I vote against it, even though I support the idea of a parcel tax that would improve education? That’s what the No on S crowd did. The egos/personal agendas/nitpicking of 38% of the voting public outweighed the greater good. Along with the faction that will vote down ANY tax increase there’s a faction that will vote down ANY measure authored by this (or any other) School Board. The point is, write it (and fund it) without the School Board’s help.

Ken, your efforts against Measure S make it hard for anyone with kids to consider you a hero.

And I wish, instead of trying to defend an illogical position (he doth protest too much, methinks), Barry spent his time figuring out how to make Measure S pass. The last person who sliced and diced stats like that came to the conclusion that Armando Benitez was an effective closer for the Giants!

Joel says “And I wish, instead of trying to defend an illogical position (he doth protest too much, methinks), Barry spent his time figuring out how to make Measure S pass”.

Counterintuitive is not the same thing as illogical. “Protests too much”?  In other words, my disagreement is prima facie evidence that I’m wrong?

I did my best to “figure out how to make Measure S pass”.

Before Measure S was finalized, I lobbied the folks who were writing it to *please* include money for transportation.  I editorialized in favor of Measure S on May 8, addressing myself specifically to Coastsiders who were fed up with the school board. And I carried my endorsement prominently on my home page for a month.

It turns out that the only effective strategy for passing Measure S would be to invent a time machine and go back to, say, 2000 and convince the school board to go ahead and build a new middle school at Cunha.

And while you’re back there, don’t forget to short some Internet stocks.

This is certainly a community blog in the best sense of the word, with lots of participation taking it through many twists and turns as points of view get aired.

But let’s not forget the original point. Barry’s article showed that neighnorhoods that strongly favored LCP candidates also favored Measure S. Neighborhoods whose support for LCP candidates was much lower also showed much less support for Measure S. Those facts tell a pretty clear story.

- Jack McCarthy


Please check out the facts. Go to dates and documents for the frog. Go to the water figures for California. Not liking facts does not make those facts propaganda.

And all,

I know some people have trouble coming to grip with the impossibility of the growth ethic and the destructiveness of further growth in places that are already overdeveloped and overpopulated. But the physical world is finite and measureable. When use of physical resources, notably water in overdrawn California but also equally diminished resources like biodiversity that may take more understanding to realize the huge natural subsidies they provide, is not sustainable through times when those resources are least available, everyone (except those few wealthy enough to buy their excess at the expense of others) suffers. Blind faith in a contrived economic ethic isn’t good enough when it comes to life support. In the long run, nothing succeeds that involves using more of something that is already in short supply.

Carl May

One of the few things that I remember from statistics class in college is that a high positive correlation doesn’t imply anything about cause and effect.  For example, it could be that environmental-leaning voters are also supporters of school parcel taxes.  Or it could be that supporters of school parcel taxes are more likely to also vote for environmental candidates.  Or it could be that people with kids in the schools are more likely to vote for environmental candidates.  Or that people who support protecting the environment are more likely to keep their kids in the local schools rather than put them in private schools.

So there is no legitimate conclusion from the numbers other than that there’s a positive correlation between parcel tax supporters and environmentalists.  Given the actual numbers shown, what that means is that someone who’s in one of those two sets is a bit more likely to also be in the other set than someone who is not.  Clearly there are many people who are in only one set, and some who are not in either set.

This thread has declined into the inconclusive nature of a previous post-mortem just after the election.

Fact is, no one has gathered the information to say with any certainty what factor or factors caused Measure S to fail. Barry has shown several things that were not responsible, in spite of claims by some letter writers.

It is very difficult for some who prefer to shoot from the hip to recognize there are ways to get more reliable information that has a much higher probability of hitting the mark. Well designed, objective surveys of the electorate and well-designed statistical analyses of the data obtained could do that. The answers for this last election are most likely not simple ones, witness the breadth of speculation here and elsewhere.

And the answers are probably not entirely the same as the answers for previous elections on the CUSD parcel tax due to differing conditions this time around. Whatever is eventually learned about the last election, yet more analysis of the electorate before drafting another tax proposal would be highly recommended. The midcoast has long been fickle with its votes—especially the suburban subdivisions of Half Moon Bay.

Carl May

From what you are saying I guess we all shouldn’t be here.. Oh well, I can see that you have this dislike and hatred for folks in this world that you will not accept the fact that we have to learn to live with the population that we have.

I don’t think the numbers reported above say anything one way or another. There is no clear definition of environmentalist as well (Barry had just implied the letter was about environmentalists). I don’t even understand his statement that the more North you the more green it gets. And unfortunately it doesn’t really matter at this point. What matters is what it would take to get the remaining 3% vote so that the measure will pass. 

There has long been a readily observable general increase in concern among voters for positive values in our physical surroundings as one goes north from Half Moon Bay through Montara. Look at any common vote (these are usually on a county-wide basis) on any so-called “environmental” measure over the past 30 years to verify this—measures on open space, development, alternatives to landscape- and community-destroying freeways, and so on.

Better, go to the results from all the individual precincts on the midcoast for the same measures. The overall gradient holds but is not a perfect one, partly because of the distinct differences among precincts in less “green” Half Moon Bay. And as the midcoast has been increasingly overbuilt, the distinct individuality and character of the northern communities has been diminished somewhat by the surburbanites moving into the new boxes built to appeal to more of an urban mindset.

It is entirely true that the term “environmentalist” has been rendered all but meaningless hereabouts, fractured into whatever the person using the word means by it. There are no substantiated principles behind the term and no common cause. This is essentially true for the whole country, not just our area. Some would now say an “environmentalist” is one who cares about their surroundings—whatever those surroundings may be and whatever the person cares about. Thus, the worst land-and resource wrecking, hit-and-run, community-disrupting, money-grubbing, out-of-town developer becomes an environmentalist.

Carl May


You will do yourself a big favor if you look at all the recent parcel tax measures for CUSD on a precinct by precinct basis. A lot can be learned about the leanings of the different communities that way—as well as the communities of the midcoast with something in common.

There is no fixed remaining 3% or 1% or whatever percent because the leanings of the electorate can, and sometimes do, change from election to election—overall, community by community, and precinct by precinct. Half Moon Bay, overall, has been particularly fickle with its votes on all kinds of elective government positions and other community matters over the years—one of the many reasons some of us in the unincorporated communities want nothing to do with annexation to HMB even though our county government stinks with regard to our local issues.

Gee, you don’t suppose those who no longer stood to make as much money out of overdevelopment of North Wavecrest due to selection of the Cunha middle school site sat out the most recent election? One will never know until a study is done to replace the random speculation. Or at least study the electorate at a later time before wasting the midcoast’s time and emotion on yet another parcel tax proposal.

“Assumptions are the mother of all screw-ups.” Had that on my office wall for a number of years. Holds true for all kinds of questions. One thing I promise you, an assumption that those not voting or voting against parcel taxes for schools really want to do something for your kiddies is wrong. In any election there are going to be voters who might go either way; and you and others who want a parcel tax need to know who they are and how to put them in your column (if possible). They are not you. Your kids are not their kids. This was patently obvious after the first parcel tax election; but tax advocates have, instead, chosen to pummel voters with essentially the same crappily-constructed wording time and again. This qualifies as insanity by some definitions.

Carl May

I just got back from Pacifica.  I’ve *never* been *so happy* to go grocery shopping!  I was grinning from ear to ear the entire trip.


Wow, this was a long thread to read through but significant. Mary’s letter to the HMB Review reminded me of a trip to the front office of the Review in 1999 with my good friend and neighbor Shirley. We were looking up old notifications for the Guerrero Ave paper street and it took quite a while. We overheard the publisher admonishing Ben (can’t remember his last name) to label groups correctly in his articles. If mentioning Jerry Donovan or Naomi he was to refer to them as “Community minded” not pro-development. For the “others” he was not to call them “preservationists or environmentalists or planned growthers”. The appropriate label, in her opinion, was “no-growthers or obstructionists”. She was angry and she was insistent.
Blame, finger pointing, accusations of not caring about or including children on the Coastside by an undefined “they” can only cause more separation not bring like sides together. Through this whole thread I have not seen any claification of who exactly “they” are.
It also demonstrates either a lack of knowledge or refusal to accept facts when the loss of all of those wonderful Wavecrest amenities is blamed on those same individuals-“they”. The appeal was brought by the Coastal Commission itself and other developers, who were shut out of their Measure A allocations by the development agreement. As much as “environmentalists” watched and observed, spoke and attended meetings at the Coastal Commission they did not bring the appeal.The project has remained stalled due to a lack of delineation of wetland areas. Mary seems to imply that amenities for the Community transends the Coastal Act and preservation of the ESHAs and endangered species, which is the law in California.There are many on the Coastside who believe those two objectives go hand in hand not independently. I never met a zero growth advocated the entire time I lived there.  lani ream

Hi Lani,
In fact if you read Carl’s posts above you will find out that he is actually a reduction of the current population advocate, not even zero growth, which of course will never happen. We have to accept the fact that growth will occur and we need to make sure we have sufficient utilities and services for our current and planned population. From reading many of the folks posts here on this website there is no doubt in my mind there are several folks that do not want any growth at all on the coastside, and some will reason that it is for the sake of our environment. This belief hurts all of us that live here, because some believe we could have both… it has been done in many places, and I think we live in a time where this must be done. When you get down to the details of the Coastal Act I argue that it is not a set of black and white laws. Try to define a “wetland” for example and compare that definition to a different coastal town in California. You will probably get 2 different answers. Also, endangered species is subjective as well, mainly based on the amount of information that actually has been accumulated.

I think you could do yourself a big favor by comparing the precint level results of Measure S to other important factors such as family with kids, or number of Senior Citizens, etc. as these factors play a more important role in deciding to vote Yes or No. And I think you are making quite a strech by indicating folks voting behaviors based on Wavecrest vs the new Cunha site. 

I haven’t seen any evidence that Carl speaks for anyone other than himself, or of a no-growth cabal. Certainly there no evidence that a no-growth cabal is responsible for the defeat of Measure S, which is what the story is about.

I agree that the Cunha vs. Wavecrest debate is unlikely to have had a direct influence on the defeat of Measure S. The precinct data don’t support it.

However, the failure of the current school board and its political antecedents to deliver on their 10-year promise that the Wavecrest Middle School would be build Real Soon Now, and the resulting loss of millions of taxpayer dollars, could very well have been a factor.

Yes Barry, I think you are correct that the inability of the board to get the Wavecrest Middle school to be built had an impact on the Measure S vote. I know a few folks that had mentioned this prior to the actual vote. That is a tough one because the current board members may not have been around during that period, and they may have actually been part of the recent solution to just redo Cunha.

But, I have to say it must have been extremely tough to try to get a new school built when there are folks in the community that seem to push for it to not happen. What I mean is that there seems to be this card that is played that says “nope can’t use this land because it is wetlands” or something similar to that. Well, it only makes sense to build a school near the residents and so you have to ask: what are the options of a site that would support a new school? I don’t know what this is, and I’m sure there are folks reading this that do know. My only point here is that instead of always wanting to be on a negative side, it would be great if we all try to make it happen, because it is really needed.

Oh, and my personal opinion is that having the one middle school to be located in downtown HMB is not the best choice. Based on the population it only makes sense to make it closer to the middle of the community, i.e. nearer to El Granada. Now, I live in HMB so it is more convenient for me to have the school in HMB, but I don’t think it is the best choice for the community. And of course, the critics will voice their dislike for this decision, but they are probably the same ones that voice their dislike for any decision.

It has not been demonstrated that Wavecrest’s opponents were responsible for the board’s failure to build their middle school there, but that’s a discussion for another time and place.

Just to be clear: They are not the same people, but the current school board members are the annointed successors of previous Wavecrest-oriented school boards.

I’ve supported the idea of a second middle school in the unincorporated Midcoast. Another way to take the pressure off Cunha is to return to K-6 elementary schools, which we should do as soon as possible on its own merits.

I think you need to brush-up on the history of the Wavecrest middle school fiasco.
See, for example, the following chronology:

Over the years, many people tried to convince the school board to go with the Cunha site rather than tie the district to a highly-speculative land development deal at Wavecrest (see link below for more history).


The loudest cheerleaders for the Wavecrest site over the years included former CUSD board members Ken Jones, Ken Wilson, Marina Stariha, Ruth Palmer, current CUSD board member Jolanda Schreurs, current CCWD director James Larimer, and last but certainly not least, the HMB Review publisher.

We were told repeatedly that the Wavecrest middle school site was a “good deal” for our community. We were told that the 1996 Measure K bond language prevented the school district from going with the Cunha location because it was not a “new site”.

In Fall 2005, we found out that the proposed Wavecrest middle school was about $30 million underfunded (cost = $56-62 million versus about $27 million of remaining Measure K money in bank).

Many of us recall attorney (and then-CUSD board member) Ken Wilson’s legal opinion on the Measure K bond language back in June 2002. His forceful opinion during a CUD board meeting was a crucial factor in persuading 4 out the 5 CUSD board members to reject the Cunha site and stick with Wavecrest (CUSD Board member Dwight Wilson was the sole dissenting vote back then). Here is a link to the 2002 HMB Review article describing the event:


At the time, Jolanda Schreurs (who was not yet a member of the CUSD board) was part of a group that threatened to sue the school district if the school board tried to use the Measure K bond money to build at Cunha. In Fall 2005, two reputable attorneys on the CUSD Professional Advice Committee stated that the Measure K bond language was very general and presented no problems whatsoever for building at Cunha.

Mr. (Ken) Wilson’s faulty legal opinion and Ms. Schreurs’ litigation threats helped to delay the start of the Cunha project by at least 3 years—which translates directly to millions of dollars in escalated construction costs.

This is all good information, and I am aware of some of this history. But, I think you helped make my point in that there was pressure from folks to just rebuild at Cunha rather than build from a new site. If you ask most parents they will tell you they want to see a NEW school, rather than a refurbished old school (and I think they voted yes on K thinking it would be a new site). How come folks were so adamantly against Wavecrest, or for that matter a different, but new site? I think it is all moot at this point, but the point is that the community suffered because some of these folks against the wavecrest idea are about ensuring zero development on the coast. I think there are many parents that would agree with me.

Ray:  I’m a Cunha parent who supported the Cunha site because after driving my daughter there for a year, it was crystal clear to me that Cunha was a vital part of the downtown community. This is a benefit to downtown, the kids, parents, and the community as a whole.  I agree that we shouldn’t get bogged down on this, but I can’t let the statement stand that a new building on a new site is better than an historic building in the walkable middle of town. I think parents would have understood that if the school board had ever figured it out and tried to explain it.

Some folks would do themselves a big favor by reading the words that are actually written in a forum like this rather than jumping to the same kinds of fuzzy conclusions that tend to be applied repeatedly to the CUSD parcel tax situation.

I never claimed that some people voted against Measure S because they believed they could not make as much money on developing North Wavecrest without the middle school . I merely suggested this kind of speculation is as good as most of what one sees in this thread because of the failure to get decent data about what really motivated the electorate in the past election.

As for the precinct results over the past 25 years, or so, all I did was to point out they substantiate the longtime, very general, somewhat imperfect voting trend toward greater concern for the “environment” as one goes north from Half Moon Bay through the unincorporated communities. This gradient was very prominent for the several decades locals fought Caltrans’s proposed Devil’s Slide Bypass (the above-ground version), with the communities most inconvenienced when the slide went out (and Caltrans dragged its feet on repairs) the staunchest against slaughtering the mountainsides above their homes with a noisy freeway-sized highway that would facilitate an even greater pace and scope of overdevelopment on the midcoast.

Whatever, the numbers in Parr’s precinct-by-precinct numbers that started this thread do show that communities with a more “pro-environment” voting record over the decades were not the ones that killed Measure S. All geographic communities on the midcoast killed Measure S, with only two coastside precincts (none in Half Moon Bay) passing the measure!

I hope those who can’t give up the idea of a parcel tax won’t merely go back to the drawing board, resulting in a massaged rewording built on speculation as to what might get more voters if they are lucky. They need to go back to their premises and learn something about an electorate that has been taken too much for granted.

Carl May

Comment 70
Tue, August 8, 2006 11:50pm
All my comments

Ray, if CUSD enrollment were anywhere near what their Facilities Master Plan projected, the obvious solution (anticipated by the FMP) would be to have a second middle school on the midcoast. It’d be good for students, for parents, and for the community (including traffic).

But CUSD enrollment in general, and its middle school enrollment in particular, is way down instead of way up, so the second middle school will have to wait.

The new middle school didn’t get built at Wavecrest because the developer was in no hurry to address legitimate environmental concerns about the site. The developer has yet to bring the project before the Coastal Commission (to whom it was appealed by another developer, among others).

As for whether the new school at the Cunha site will be “new” enough, I encourage you to compare the current Cunha plans to the proposed Wavecrest plans. In particular, compare the classrooms. I have, at length. There’s a reason that the sexy renderings of the Wavecrest design that were on display in the district office didn’t show so much as a square inch of a classroom.

Thanks for the information on declining enrollment, I didn’t realize this and I can see it would be a factor in the decision making of the middle school.

Let me add that I didn’t say I disliked the Cunha decision. I am so happy that we can now move forward and get something accomplished. There are pros to the Cunha decision, and Barry has stated some of them. I do like the fact that a “historic” building is not getting bulldozed. I was just stating that I feel it is not the ideal decision. I do plan to look at the Cunha plans, but I’m thinking that “retrofitting” an outdated school probably costs more than building a new school. Maybe I’m wrong, but if I’m right then it is probable that the end result would be somewhat less featured than a new site. I am curious to know what others think.

My point regarding the wavecrest site still stands however. I’m sure there are other options for a new site, but I believe that they too would have been hit with opposition, and not because of it being a new school, but because it would mean “development” on our coast. All at a cost of our children not getting the school they should have had 10+ years ago.

Ray, when comparing the cost of refurbing Cunha vs building new at Wavecrest, please compare apples to apples.  Cunha has permanent buildings and I believe the new building will be a permanent building.  If I understood correctly, ALL of the classroom buildings in the new middle school at Wavecrest are designed as modulars, which I don’t consider permanent buildings.  Only the admin building is permanent.  If cost is an issue, why are modulars ok for the students but not for the admin staff?