Edition 1, January 2020

Happy New Year, and welcome to the first edition of Pacifica Voice in 2020. In this issue you will find the following:

  1. A letter from Sally Lieber,
  2. A tribute to Women in Black, and invitations from Pacifica Peace People,
  3. An article on Sea Level Rise by Victor Carmichael,
  4. Thoughts on Alternative to Hedge Fund Ownership by John Keener,
  5. Articles related to the oversized vehicle ban – No Room in the Inn by Reverend Penny Nixon, an overview of the proposed city ordinance, and a letter to City Council from San Mateo County Legal Aid,
  6. A new column,The Pacifica Soul, introduced by Mark Hubbell.

January events:

  1. California Progressive Alliance event SAT 1/11 morning meeting. Click to see video invitation or register at californiaprogressivealliance.org
  2. City Council meets MON 1/13 7 PM, Council Chambers,
  3. Dedication of the Peace Pole at Ingrid B. Lacy WED 1/15 at 12:30 PM,
  4. Movie night FRI 1/17 6:30 PM at Sharp Park Library featuring “SUPPRESSED”,
  5. PPA General Meeting THUR 1/23 Sharp Park Library 7 PM.

Photos have been contributed by Leo Leon and Mark Hubbell

Pacifica Voice is eager to receive articles on issues important to our community. Please send them to pacificavoice@outlook.com for consideration.

Dear Suzanne,

When I served in the State Assembly, people would often ask me what it was like to be important’ or to have the perks of being in office. The truth was that the thing I loved the most was the chance to help people.

It was, and still is, an honor to have people come to me with the things that trouble them–and to work with them to find a way of solving (or living with) the problem. So many of the people who trusted me with their deepest, or even small, problems are still in my heart today.

I’ve always believed that policymaking can incorporate this spirit–that policy can be compassionate and serve real people first.

I know how hard this is in the money driven politics that dominate today. I’ve seen how little fixes for big corporations can squeeze out changes needed by everyday people. This is why I have such strong feelings about the people and organizations that do help people when they need it the most.

In that spirit, I am humbled to announce that the largest organization of nurses in California, the National Nurses United-California Nurses Association, is supporting me for State Senate.

We all have a debt to nurses. They step in when we need them the most and provide care in our most vulnerable hours. Their care is the most important kind: skilled, yes, but also person-to-person. No machine of algorithm can replace that profound connection.

I will always stand with the nurses in their quest to extend healthcare to every single person through Medicare For All and their relentless insistence on putting people before profits. And I’ll never stop fighting to make sure that nurses are honored, respected and learned from. It’s the least we can do, because sooner or later, every one of us will need a nurse.

If you believe as I do, please join our campaign by giving a contribution of whatever size you can afford today. The funds that we raise help take our message to voters. It’s important that they hear your message and mine: that people really do care.

You can make a contribution online at https://secure.actblue.com/donate/sally2020.

Thank you so very much,

Sally Lieber

California State Assemblywoman, Speaker pro Tempore (Ret.)

Sally Lieber has served as a local City Councilwoman, Mayor, County Commissioner and in the State Assembly, where she also served as the Assembly’s Speaker pro Tempore. She is running for State Senate in the Peninsula’s 13th Senate District, where State Senator Jerry Hill is termed out.

Women in Black

Author: Delia McGrath

We came together — there were 50 of us women and a few men on that first Saturday we stood as

Pacifica’s Women in Black — it was March 22, 2003. Several women took the lead — to create this peaceful response — 3 days after the invasion of Iraq under the George W Bush administration. We gathered with our friends and allies @1:00 pm in front of the old Seavue Theatre, corner of West Manor Dr and Palmetto. We had about a dozen signs pitching peace.

One sign endured throughout the years of our action: “Mothers are Grieving Everywhere”; there were other signs: “Women for Peace,” “End War Now” and “Peace is Possible.” We stood and we stood. We were a presence. A visible reminder to thousands of motorists and pedestrians, including most of you, who saw us.

Initially, there was outrage and hostility mixed in with the overwhelming support that our community gave us in response to our efforts. Over time, the rage subsided and we rarely had negative feedback during the last 5 years — always we felt much more the support of our community for what we were doing.

We had to relocate to the freeway overpass when the theatre was demolished and construction of Walgreens store began and eventually was completed. A solid group of 6-8 women, and one man, faithfully stood every single Saturday for the years between 2007-2018. We were devoted and shared a clarity of mind and heart about what we were doing — we demonstrated good will and solidarity for people everywhere who were suffering from war, violence and prejudice in our world.

By the beginning of 2019, our core group members began to disappear due to ill health. Only one or two women showed up individually, or together, when possible. By mid-year Pacifica’s Women in Black — an important symbol of peace and nonviolence — no longer stood.

I wish to offer a gratitude to every woman and man who found it in her/his heart to join in this amazing effort to be a peaceful presence in Pacifica for 15 years. You gave, by your presence and perseverance, the constant reminder to our community that we all indeed yearn for peace . . . may it come.

This tribute was being written just as Donald J Trump moved aggressively with deadly force — dangerously and recklessly engaging Iran in who knows what is to come?

Pacifica Peace People invite you to a screening of “Suppressed”.
Come, join the conversation and take action!

Friday, January 17, 2020 Sharp Park Library
6:30 Doors open 7:00 Film begins
Light refreshments served

Pacifica Peace People invite you to two events in mid- January, 2020:

Wednesday, January 15, 2020; 12:30 pm

Please join us at Ingrid B Lacy [IBL] Middle School, 1427 Palmetto, Pacifica, for the “Dedication of the Peace Pole.” It is an 8’ wooden pole with the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in 4 languages: English, Tagalog, Cantonese, Spanish. Leadership students at IBL are designing rocks to be placed at the base of the peace pole. A group of students will participate in the ceremony and Mr. Dan Lyttle, Principal at IBL, will speak briefly. We expect this dedication to last @20-30 minutes.

January 15 is the birthdate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We are happy to sponsor this first “planting” of a peace pole at a Pacifica school and we will encourage other schools and organizations to “plant” peace poles. These are visible signs of peace and serve to remind us of our yearning for peace in our community, in our world.

Friday, January 17, 2020; 7:00 pm [doors open at 6:30] Sharp Park Library, 104 Hilton Way [at Palmetto].

Come to our screening of Suppressed featuring the numerous accounts of voter suppression in the gubernatorial race in Georgia 2018. This 38 minute

outstanding film points to serious issues that occur in other states, including some in California. Following the film, there will be a brief presentation about California and San Mateo County voting practices + a discussion. Finally, we will invite you to take a civic action — the info and materials you need will be provided — to ensure that going forward there will be free and fair elections for everyone in San Mateo County and in the State of California.

For more information contact: deliaforpeace39@gmail.com

Sea Level Rise and Pacifica

Author: Victor Carmichael

The UN sponsored COP25 is an annual conference of the 197 signatories on the Paris Climate Agreement. It met several weeks ago with little settled. Alas the (some say inadequate) goals of that agreement are not being met with many important issues still unaddressed. So we are set to blow past the 1.5C proposed limit, Even staying below 2.0C, the outer limit beyond which all hell will break loose, looks unlikely. Whatever happens the once slow motion crisis of Climate Change is gaining momentum and will eventually lead to a cascade of fear and desperation – and finally headlong geopolitical turmoil. At least that’s how our military sees it according to a recent DOD study.

So what is the situation here in Pacifica? It turns out we are at ground zero for one of the more immediate threats from a warming climate – Sea Level Rise. The Los Angeles Times regularly uses dramatic photos from Pacifica to illustrate articles on SLR. And Pacifica like most coastal communities does not want to face the hard reality that to continue coastal armoring indefinitely is simply not affordable. If SLR proceeds as expected, dozens of coastal towns, especially those in the south half of the state as well as the entire SF Bay frontage eventually will be simultaneously clamoring for help.

The State of California and by extension the California Coastal Commission is well aware of this harsh reality and is insisting on Local Coastal Plan updates that address SLR must consider eventually moving structures back from the coast. But while there is money to be made and buyers to be had real estate and developers will resist mightily for they also realize that what logically follows is not building anymore there in the first place. It’s easy to complain about FEMA’s unwise encouragement of rebuilding in flood plains and barrier islands but is the coastal zone of the entire California coast any different?

Currently three developments in the coastal zone are planned and are being resisted: 1) 1567 Beach Blvd. in the Sharp Park area, 2) 4009 Palmetto Ave. and 3) 4000 Palmetto Ave. both in Fairmont West’s Fish and Bowl. All three projects are well west of the dreaded ‘red line’ as shown in the ESA’s 2018 SLR Vulnerability Study. The red line indicates that part of the coastal zone that will be lost to erosion by 2100 under the worse case scenario of SLR (which increasingly is looking more likely).

The California Coastal Commission would no doubt like for Pacifica as a coastal city with a serious erosion problem to serve as a model. There was an opportunity for that with the SLR section of the LCP Update provided by Environmental Science Associates (ESA). Unfortunately the public meetings on the study brought out angry homeowners who were hostile to the entire process having been convinced that the ESA’s plan would have an immediate deleterious effects on their home values. And in the next election a countywide real estate organization funded an ugly campaign to regain control of the City Council. The original SLR section was eventually watered down. What will emerge out of all of this is still unclear. What has survived is a compromise which is still unpopular in some quarters. It awaits approval of the CCC. The LCP Update draft with comments from the CCC is available. See Section 6 – Coastal Resilience.

New developments in the coastal zone west of Highway 1 puts all of us at risk for new taxes and fees. We must do all we can and resist all new building in the Coastal Zone. In this case we probably have both CCC and our own Planning Department as unacknowledged allies in wanting to do what is best for the City within the constraints of the law.

Please support the resistance to more development in the Coastal Zone.

An Alternative to Hedge Fund Ownership of PG&E

Author: John Keener

PG&E is in legal and financial trouble over fire damages it has caused by neglecting maintenance of its power lines. So much so that the company is in bankruptcy court. Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a company to reorganize with some of its debts reduced or eliminated.

Two groups dominated by hedge funds are vying before the bankruptcy judge for control of PG&E: One represents the “old” PG&E, and the second is a group of so-called “vulture” hedge funds. They both look forward to many billions in state guaranteed loans to help pay some of the fire victims. In addition, they both claim they will raise more money via corporate bonds.

There is a third option emerging. San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo is leading a group to explore a customer-owned cooperative as a PG&E successor. A customer-owned cooperative wouldn’t pay an 8 to 12% return on investment to shareholders like PG&E does, because the shareholders would be its customers. It wouldn’t owe Federal taxes. It wouldn’t pay the large numbers of lobbyists and lawyers that PG&E currently uses to get its way with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the state legislature.

However, a customer-owned cooperative would be able to obtain low-interest municipal bonds to help pay fire victims and rebuild outdated infrastructure. All told, it would seem to have a 10% to 20% financial advantage over the hedge fund ownership options.

The PG&E successor that emerges from bankruptcy next July will face very serious challenges, in addition to the financial and legal ones stemming from the fires. Its primary business is a now decrepit transmission and distribution grid, parts of which are up to 100 years old. Aging transmission towers need to be repaired or replaced. High-voltage transmission lines in high fire danger areas may need to be insulated, so that if they do break, only the tip of the wire is live. Another alternative is technology that senses when a wire breaks and cuts the power.

In the near future, we must reimagine the distribution grid to accommodate the large number of electric vehicles and their charging stations necessary to combat climate change. When these additional distribution lines are planned, a closed loop configuration with two separate lines into communities would lessen power shut offs for areas that aren’t in immediate fire danger, instead of the radial spoke design currently in favor.

Current PG&E workers will be needed in a successor company, and as union workers, their benefits and pensions will be protected. They will be the ones trimming vegetation and rebuilding transmission lines so they’re safe. Years of poor maintenance and neglect that caused the fires can’t be overcome immediately. It will take time, and a change in company culture to one that values safety over profits. Will that “safety over profits” culture arise in a hedge fund-controlled company?

There’s also a climate change component to the bankruptcy proceeding. The Sierra Club says that CO2 released by the fires, mostly caused by PG&E’s negligent maintenance of its lines, is roughly equivalent to the savings in CO2 emissions afforded by a year of renewable electric power in California. That’s a lot, and it’s discouraging. It is imperative that we decrease the fire-related CO2 release for the future of a livable planet, as well as for fire victims.

Liccardo’s group is in its very early days, yet many elected officials have already signed a letter to the CPUC supporting the effort with copies sent to the governor and legislature. Governor Newsom has a large stake in the bankruptcy proceeding, as evidenced by his rejection of PG&E’s $13.5 billion settlement with fire victims. Let’s make sure that all of our money and capital go toward the fire victims and actually solving the problems of the electric grid, rather than enriching hedge fund owners.

Mr. Keener is a Director Emeritus of Peninsula Clean Energy, however this editorial represents his own opinion. He is also a former council member and mayor of Pacifica.

John Keener
1211 Galvez Dr.
Pacifica, CA 94044
(650) 557 9738

No Room in the Inn

Author: Reverend Penny Nixon

“There was no room for them at the inn.” You don’t need to celebrate Christmas to be familiar with that phrase. The ageless story paints a picture of a young, unwed and expectant couple seeking safety, longing for welcome and shelter as they traveled back to their hometown to be counted in the first century census. But there was no room for them. We don’t know if the no vacancy sign applied to them because they couldn’t afford the high-priced room or because they simply didn’t belong. That first century census was part of a plan by a cruel empire to exact taxes on the poor. It was a precursor to the mass displacement which would follow, a winnowing of those deemed unworthy. Over two thousand years later, the story seems to echo in San Mateo County. Far too many people are getting the message—“there is no room for you.” There is no room for those who can’t pay high rent prices, there is no room for the RV dwellers or the motorhome residents. There is no room for those who commute two hours on our congested freeways to keep a job. There is no room for people without the sanctioned documents. At least, that feels like the reality for many people. When I read some of the messages on Next Door or on facebook, when I hear the pubic conversations at city council meetings, that’s what I hear—there is no room for you—you do not belong. But that doesn’t have to be the defining sentiment this holiday season, or any season. The Christmas story ends with the words: Peace on earth, good will to all. What if goodwill to all were our rallying cry, our organizing principle here in San Mateo County? How different it would feel—for all of us. What if we worked together, across all kinds of social boundaries, race divisions, class barriers, political affiliations and began to see each other not only as counting but also as belonging. Why is it that we need to be so cruel to one another? What are we really trying to protect? I want to live in a county where all people’s dignity and worth are considered in the decision-making, and where there is not such a defined hierarchy of who is of worth. We all make up the tapestry of what it means to be human. When we buy into “there is no room” myth, we are all diminished. Good will to all—let’s hope that is the story that resonates here in San Mateo County because that is the story we begin to create right here, right now.

Pacifica’s Oversize Vehicle Ordinance: Overview

Author: Gloria Stofan

On Monday, January 13, 2020, Pacifica City Council will have the second reading of a proposed ordinance to restrict parking of oversize vehicles. If the second reading receives majority vote of the Council, the ordinance will go into effect after March 31, 2020. At this point, it is unclear where vehicles which qualify as oversized will be able to legally park. City Council members, Vaterlaus, O’Neill, and Beckmeyer seem eager to put this ordinance in place; and the pressure is on.

We don’t know why Council majority seems to have chosen the deadline. Although former Mayor Vaterlaus refers to multiple emails from Pacifica residents demanding action, Vaterlaus has not made these emails public for review. Instead, the Council seems to be placing a greater weight on NextDoor posts (which likely do not reflect the majority of Pacificans) than oral comments made in City Council (which likely do reflect resident concerns).

There could be a few considerations for holding off on the 2nd reading of the ordinance:

  • At a recent Unhoused in Pacifica Task Force Forum, the public made it clear they want real solutions for Pacifica homeless issues rather than displacement.
  • It takes time to develop, fund, and enact homeless programs. Although the Task Force has initiated a program development phase, the March 31st deadline is woefully soon – more time is needed.
  • Enacting the Oversize Vehicle Ordinance has already cost the City money and time, and there has been no estimate of how much more it will cost. The City has also received a letter from San Mateo County Legal Aid suggesting reasons for a possible lawsuit. Since the City had declined to draft a temporary moratorium of tenant evictions when less money was involved and less likelihood of lawsuit, how is it able to proceed at this time with so little information available to the public? If Council wanted to be transparent, should it draw up a draft with estimated cost and put it to Pacifica voters decide if they want to proceed?

A tragic unintended consequence of Pacifica’s public debate on homeless in motorhomes has been the negative rhetoric in social media with 2 occasions of postings actual licenses and false accusations. This rhetoric incites, and we see an increase of harassment and vandalism. We should hold our Council and Police accountable to protect our homeless population:

  • Put a moratorium on tickets for the homeless while the public debate continues.
  • Promise to fully prosecute acts of vandalism against homeless residents.
  • Condemn NextDoor postings which identify a vehicle as inciteful.
  • Encourage civil public communication.

The Unhoused in Pacifica Task Force has a preliminary report available on the City’s website. There was a delay in agendizing the report, so Council was unable to discuss it 12/9/19 – when the first reading of the Oversize Vehicle Initiative was read and voted upon. Again, the majority of Council seemed to feel that their arbitrary deadline was more important than considering information from the very community Task Force they created. Nevertheless, the Task Force presented some hopeful information:

  • The community wants solutions to Pacifica’s homeless problem.
  • There appears to be progress on a mobile waste disposal service, and the Resource Center has received funding to create this. This issue was the single greatest concern identified by Pacificans, and it could come to a quick fruition if the City identifies a temporary service site.
  • The Task Force identified several models, successfully demonstrated in California communities, that provide safe parking with a path to permanent housing. One of these, the Rotational Shelter model, was previously demonstrated in a feasibility study here in Pacifica in 2016, again in 2017, and is soon slated for another trial at St. Edmonds early this year.

Program development will require cooperation from several players, and community will is necessary for this to occur. All programs will require grant applications to garner funding, contracted service agents to oversee the programs, site(s) for the programs, and legal municipal code changes to support the efforts. Pacifica is already well-positioned: with aggressive grant applications through our Resource Center, previously established case management and homeless services, a Faith-based community interested in participating in tandem with the City, and productive relationships with LifeMoves (through their Homeless Outreach Team) and the Pacifica Police Department. The public should encourage these players – the Pacifica Resource Center, faith-based and other possible shelter hosts, and the City – to sit down together and discuss plan development.

We are very close to enacting real steps to help our homeless regain stable housing. Please come to City Council Monday, January 13 at 7 pm to share your opinion and demand solutions rather than displacement.

Letter to City of Pacifica

December 9, 2019

Via e-mail to citycouncil@ci.pacifica.ca.us

Mayor Sue Vaterlaus Mayor Pro Tem Deirdre Martin Pacifica City Councilmembers 170 Santa Maria Avenue Pacifica, CA 94044

Re: Opposition to Proposed Ordinance Amending Articles 11 and 12 of Chapter 7, “Traffic” within Title 4 of the Pacifica Municipal Code Relating to Oversized Vehicle Parking (Pacifica City Council meeting agenda for December 9, 2019)

Dear Honorable Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, and Councilmembers:

We are writing to state our opposition to the Ordinance to be considered by the City Council at tonight’s meeting, which would effectively prohibit parking of “oversized vehicles” within Pacifica. The draft Ordinance is an unnecessarily drastic and hasty measure, more detrimental than ameliorative to the very concerns that initiated it. We urge the Council to table this matter and not to introduce the Ordinance at this time.

In our November 11, 2019 letter to the Council, we expressed our concern that an overnight parking ban on recreational vehicles would violate several Constitutional principles, including the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and protection for Substantive Due Process, the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, the First Amendment’s protection of the freedom of association, and the right to travel protected by the U.S. and California constitutions. The draft Ordinance now presented to the Council only escalates the likelihood of legal challenge, given its wider scope, including a broad range of vehicles in a 24-hour street parking ban in virtually all of the City of Pacifica. The fact that the staff report has shifted justification for the ban toward traffic safety considerations, rather than the previously cited nuisance complaints related to vehicle habitation, does not rescue the Ordinance from its legally problematic impact upon residents of Pacifica, including the significant homeless population and people with disabilities who live on Pacifica’s streets, as well as anyone seeking access to the coastal areas adjacent to these streets.

In implementing a blanket 24-hour ban on street parking for everything from moving vans, to delivery vehicles, to motor homes, the proposed Ordinance would impose an overbroad policy that would fail to resolve the problem of homelessness and create obstacles to daily commerce and coastal access in the city. More measured approaches to traffic safety concerns – such as limiting oversized vehicle parking to one side of a 40-foot-wide street – have yet to be discussed or explored. The findings of the Unhoused in Pacific Task Force are an essential component of information that should also be weighed in this policy decision. Innovative approaches to regulating motorhome occupancy, such as the permit parking program under consideration in Berkeley that is referenced in the staff report, should not be dismissed as viable options merely because they are untested.

We again urge the City Council to take a measured and informed approach to addressing the issue of occupied motorhomes on the streets of Pacifica. The proposed Ordinance will not resolve that issue, and instead will create an expensive and regressive parking enforcement project that is detrimental to Pacifica’s residents and businesses.


Trevor J. Yan
Staff Attorney

Shirley E. Gibson
Directing Attorney

Michelle Marchetta Kenyon, City Attorney
Kevin Woodhouse, City Manager

330 Twin Dolphin Drive, Suite 123 – Redwood City, CA 94065 – 650.558.0915 – FAX 650.517.8973
Toll-Free 800.381.8898 – www.legalaidsmc.org

The Soul Of Pacifica

Author: Mark Hubbell

Hometown Soul would be as we remember it collectively … how each other’s memories overlap to create what remains today, and continuing hopes for tomorrow.

I fondly recall: forgetting my wallet when paying the bill, and the proprietor chiming: “That’s alright, we’ll see you next time”; waiting for someone to make the first move at a four way stop … as the other three drivers cheerfully wave each other on; the sign taped to the ticket window of the old Sea View Theater— “Please drop your admission fee in the fish bowl on the popcorn stand inside” — while outside, Women In Black have been protesting war on that street corner every Sunday for twenty-seven years; Peace People singing folk songs on the beach at sunset, while up the street “the music will be starting at 9:00, and the fights at 11:00; Choppers lined up in the fog, in front of the old Green Lantern Chinese Restaurant, where the weathered faces of real hard rollin’ bikers flickered in the glow of flaming wok pans; rough stories of the stormy seas of life told by commercial fishermen at our Thursday Night AA meetings; white-gloved hands at Mazzetti’s Bakery inviting me to taste their freshly baked fruit tarts; real mermaids in our town’s festival parade — all of this blending into the beat of ever present waves pounding at the edge of tomorrow_mh

What are yours? Please send photos and stories to pacificavoice@outlook.com and indicate they are for The Soul of Pacifica. We hope to make this a part of each Pacifica Voice edition.