Edition 5, June 2020
Welcome to the June 2020 edition of Pacifica Voice. June is Pride Month. June also found Pacificans protesting in the name of George Floyd and participating in a city study session on policing and racism.
In this edition:
- The Rev. Terri Echelbarger accepts Pacifica’s Proclamation of Pride Month.
- Peter Loeb, Jack Coots, and Dan Evenhouse share thoughts on a month of protests.
- San Mateo County’s Healthcare for the Homeless and Farmworkers Health Board reaches out to cities including Pacifica – submitted by Victoria Sanchez De Alba
- The Pacific Beach Coalition seeks heroes.
- Margaret Goodale and Stan Zeavin discuss a recent vote from the Coastal Commission.
- San Mateo County offers low cost internet for those who are eligible.
- TH 7/2 7:00 PM virtual north Pacifica Community Meeting
You are invited to a Community Meeting about North Pacifica Issues
Is the cost of housing keeping you up at night? Are you worried about your children and their future and if they can stay in Pacifica? Do you feel represented by members of the Pacifica City Council?
Where: Via Zoom*:https://cccconfer.zoom.us/j/96571267747
When: Thursday July 2 7:00-8:30. Who: Everyone Welcome!
- MON 7/13 7:00 PM City Council
- TH 7/23 7:00 PM Pacifica Progressives General meeting
- MON 7/27 7:00 PM City Council
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
JUNE IS PRIDE MONTH
Rev. Terri Echelbarger Accepts Pacifica Pride Month Proclamation
Terri Echelbarger is a member of the San Mateo LGBTQ+ Commission. This year the commission made extensive efforts to encourage cities to recognize pride in some way. Every city in San Mateo, and also the Pescadero Municipal Advisory Council, has done so.
“I want to say thank you on behalf of the San Mateo LGBTQ+ Commission and all the LGBTQ+ Residents, friends and family who live in Pacifica. It’s meaningful to be seen as an important part of those who make up the diversity of our City. On this 50th Anniversary of Pride Celebrations, we remember a long history of those who have rallied for their rights, and still fight, to be seen as equally valuable and an equally worthy part of our communities. LGBTQ+ people come in every color and I hope we can all work together for that day when all who call for equality and justice find it. Thank you, again, for your leadership.”
Pacifica Police and the George Floyd Demonstration
Submitted June 20, 2020 by Peter Loeb
A report of comments made by a PPA member who wanted to share experiences regarding Pacifica police but wishes to remain anonymous.
The entire country is rethinking the role of police following the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police. That rethinking includes Pacifica. On June 4th the Pacifica Progressive Alliance held a protest of the murder of George Floyd. With just a few days notice, approximately 300 people turned out for a spirited event. People held signs and lined Highway 1 from the Moose Lodge south to Reina del Mar Avenue. The protest raised several questions about our own Pacifica Police department.
We had told the police ahead of time of our plans for the demonstration. As we assembled, the police met us and said they supported our right to protest and that the large police presence was not to intimidate us but rather to protect us. They explained that they had heard on social media that there might be threats against the protest. The police did turn out in force – there were at least seven police cars around the area of the protest, as well as a squad of eight motorcycle police. It did not seem that our relatively small and very peaceful protest needed that much policing. The large number of police was intimidating and it wondered if there really was a threat against us, or if that was an excuse for intimidation.
Our initial wonder about police intimidation grew worse as an ugly scene developed across Highway 1 near the corner of Reina del Mar. People were lined up to watch the protest. Some took video with their phones, one looked on with binoculars, one had a “Thin Blue Line” flag t-shirt on, and many seemed to be glaring and scowling at the protest. And mixed among them were three Pacifica police officers. They all seemed to be laughing and chumming it up – no masks, only a few feet apart. The next morning, the business there had boarded up its front windows and had put up a large Thin Blue Line flag.
The Thin Blue Line flag is a black flag with a horizontal blue line. It has been a symbol of support for police since the 1970s, with the blue line symbolizing the police protecting us from chaos. Critics have argued that the idea of the police as society’s protection against chaos is a divisive “us vs. them” vision of the role of the police. Criticism of the Thin Blue Line flag became more pronounced in 2017 after white supremacist demonstrators in Charlottesville carried the flags. Since then, some police departments have moved to disassociate themselves from what now may be perceived as a racist symbol. In May this year the San Francisco Police Department ordered their officers not to wear Thin Blue Line face masks. And the Middletown, Connecticut police department responded to a public petition and took down a Thin Blue Line flag from inside their police station.
As of a year ago the Pacifica Police had a Thin Blue Line flag up inside the police station. And this month a Pacifica police officer was seen with a Thin Blue Line face mask. While we do not know what meaning the police attribute to the symbol, it is clear at this point that the symbol is perceived by some as racist and therefore the Pacifica Police should stop using it.
The issues raised here are just a very small part of a much bigger conversation about the role of the police in Pacifica. Listen to the recent City Council study session on police and racial equity issues which is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJiwZg4wp_w. Some of the many issues include making sure the Pacifica Police use of force policy is in line with new state law limiting use of force, making public data by race on police stops and other actions, improving training, making officer misconduct records public (as New York City did recently), prohibiting the hiring of officers with prior records of misconduct, and “defunding the police” – shifting funding and responsibility for homelessness, domestic violence, and mental health calls to social workers and mental health professionals (as San Francisco recently did) and more.
A Few Bad Apples
Author Jack Coots
We are now in the process of having a more serious discussion of law enforcement than perhaps ever before. Daily examples of police departments’ questionable policies and bad behavior by individual officers are being exposed by their own body cams and dash cams, as well as numerous cell phone videos recorded by witnesses at the scene. We are often being told that this phenomena only points out the existence of “a few bad apples” and not a systemic problem that needs to be addressed by the entire police community. It appears more likely that we are only witnessing the tip of the iceberg and that many unsavory everyday occurrences remain below the radar to be part of business as usual with respect to interactions with minorities.
To be sure, there are many excellent men and women in career law enforcement who go about their jobs everyday desiring to honestly and fairly serve and protect us in the best way possible. We applaud their service. That is exactly why it is incumbent upon them to embrace the need to publicly recognize and expose the “few bad apples” that detract from their mission and tarnish their image.
The metaphor they use refers to the old maxim that “It only takes a few bad apples to spoil the whole barrel!” Decay, in fruit, has a way of spreading through adjacent pieces of fruit and continuing its advancement throughout the supply. The produce manager in a grocery store and the vendor at a farmer’s market understand this quite well. They would never bury rotting fruit beneath the bright shiny examples in their display and think all is well because it is away from the obvious notice of their customers. They would remove the culprit fruits completely from the healthy ones and discard them.
That is why the law enforcement community with all its departments of public safety and police departments, public and private, must continue the metaphor to its logical conclusion and stop excusing, defending, and enabling the bad apples to remain in their midst with the corrupting effect going unchecked. Unions should support fairness in hiring, pay and benefits, and reasonable benefit of the doubt in sticky spur-of-the-moment enforcement situations. They should not blindly and continuously defend the most flagrant and obvious abuses of peoples rights that were provided by the Constitution. It is not unusual for us to learn that a perpetrator of an offensive action has a record of misbehavior, sometimes lasting for years, that has been excused and ignored each time it occurs. This dark stain has to stop. In short, the brothers and sisters in blue and the unions representing them must identify, remove, and discard every “bad apple” to make sure they don’t find their way into our lunchbox and end up spoiling our opinion of the whole crop.
Who’ll Stop the Reign
Author Dan Evenhouse
“There have been a lot of protests recently.” That has to count for one of the biggest understatements I’ve ever made. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, people have been coming into the streets in droves. And not just the ‘usual suspects’. We’ve seen white suburban soccer moms, Nascar dads and all the people you never thought would protest anything join the chants of “Black Lives Matter”.
One of those chants I’ve seen some mimic is “Defund the Police” , a response to racist murders by cops of Black people of all ages, genders and orientations. If you are marching in any of the protests, you can feel some squirm at that proposed solution. I must confess that I have had my misgivings at that phrase for a number of reasons. I’ve listed a number of my concerns below.
The strategy and meaning of the phrase appear dubious at times. I doubt that many want to do without any law enforcement at all, and it may or may not get us closer to re-imagining what justice and peace might look like. I’ll also apologize in advance that I have many more questions than answers. That is a better place to start than a set of preconceived notions by the police, city councils, or citizenry. I hope we can continue to discuss ways in which we can come together for our common goals. I look forward to hearing from others regarding these issues and urge people to educate and inform themselves.
There are a number of groups out there where you will find like-minded people. I have found them at Pacifica Social Justice and Pacifica Progressive Alliance, but there are others out there. Please, get busy, get informed and get active. Taking action is a way not only to fight racism but to feel more effective, ward off depression, and contribute to overall wellness. Since my day job is as a 30-year veteran social worker and therapist working with persons with mental health issues, I find those coping tools are something I’ve constantly shared. My background affords me a level of experience and expertise; and after listening to the latest City Council Study Session regarding local police use of force policy, I have my opinions.
The following questions come up for me around “Defunding the Police”:
#1 – What does that phrase mean, does it mean no protection for anyone against would be thugs and bullies? Does it mean that those who abuse others will not have to face the consequences of their actions? Does it mean giving into the forces of anomie? Does it mean that alt-rightists and/or antifa will gain the upper hand?
#2 – What is the logical strategy of such a proposal? Prominent voices such as Stacey Abrams have posited that using that slogan gives another cudgel to the pro-Trump forces that seek to portray all protesters as violent thugs and gives them an excuse to further curtail the activities of “potentially violent protestors” – like those cleared from the area around DC church so Trump could have a photo op with a Bible in hand. (Btw, more than one person has suggested Trump might gain from reading the Bible rather than waving it around. Clearly, Love Thy Neighbor and the Golden Rule are not in his lexicon.)
#3 – How can any community stay safe without police protection? Aren’t police reform and community policing the logical antidotes to current problems?
#4 – What are my obligations as a White Male? How can I educate myself on this topic without placing undue burdens for education on those who have been discriminated against? Does my “White Privilege”, or in the words of SF Chronicle column writer McCalman “White Temerity” mean that I should take a back seat when it comes to either marching in the streets or in approaching government and other leaders to ask for change?
#5 – How can all of this play out during a pandemic? Should I allow my fear of contracting coronavirus keep me from joining in protests at all? Should I cede the streets to those pro-Trumpers who seem determined to do as much as possible to contract the virus themselves? In some states they have armed themselves with weapons but pointedly refused to use masks in demanding that things be ‘opened up’. What are my obligations to my fellow humans who feel that protest is necessary but don’t always take as much care as they should during marches?
#6 – How does this play out in the city of Pacifica? The police chief states that Pacifica is in compliance with AB392, but why is the ‘necessity clause’ called for by that law not in Pacifica’s police policy? Why does Pacifica (as do many other police departments) use Lexipro as a template for creating policy but then not use all the phrasing and content required by ethics and law? Why have police in Pacifica yet to respond to the letter inquiring about these matters sent by Pacifica Social Justice? My questions preceded the “special city meeting” of June 17, 2020; but after listening to that meeting, my questions persist. Will the police make sufficient changes to improve policy and bring it into compliance with state law? Will they accede to demands by PSJ and other organizations working to improve policing and bring it into line with BLM standards?
#7 – I am a therapist by profession. What are my professional obligations related to how police are treating those with mental health issues? What are my obligations in terms of encouraging other professionals to take a more active role? I have followed the local police departments for some time regarding their treatment of individuals with mental health issues. Pacifica police have reportedly been trained in Crisis Intervention techniques. However we do not have a mobile crisis team with mental health professionals assisting police as SF and Berkeley have. We have not had programs such as Stamp Out Stigma (prior program in SF) to train police on how to understand the effects of internal and external stigma on persons with mental health issues and how to verbally and non verbally de escalate those individuals. In the case of Errol Chang, someone with active and acute mental health issues and barricaded in a back room, was subjected to a “flashbang” device which precipitated a crisis which ended in Mr. Chang being shot. In the case of Chinedu Okobe in San Bruno, a disoriented man who was wandering into traffic was tazed to death. When I read these events I find it hard not to despair of creating positive change in our part of the Bay Area. I continue to go to work every day in mental health trying to change these outcomes, but I have professional standards and professional ethical guidelines that require me to speak up for justice when my clients can not. We already know that those with mental health issues have on average 25 years shorter life span. We also know that persons with mental health issues are 1/3 to ½ times more likely to be involved in a fatal encounter with police. If “Defund the Police” means more funds are available for mental health treatment, isn’t that a more efficient way to help those with mental health issues?
I will try to answer these questions, but it will take time and effort on my part and help from others in the city and the country as a whole. I will need help from all parts of society to be effective in my personal and collective efforts at advocating positive change.
Will others listen? Will politicians? Will the multiracial coalition last long enough to create some structural change? Will voter suppression prevent change from happening?
We have an occupant in the White House that appears to be willing to do anything to hold on to power. Will other politicians be effective in fighting against the Reign of that occupant? Will we help Justice to run like waters and mercy like an ever rolling stream, to quote another old song? Will our national house, divided against itself, stand? I am counting on the next generation to make the difference with this. Not since the “class of 65” has a generation faced such challenges but also shown a willingness to do the work. We can be stronger together if we take action. That means holding our police and our city accountable for their actions, as well as their policies and intentions that drive those actions. After all, who does this city belong to? Come to the meetings on zoom, come to protest, but stay engaged. This is what democracy looks like, but only if we take the reins and end the Reign of one who would keep us divided and impotent.
“Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.”
Healthcare for the Homeless and Farmworkers
Submitted by Victoria Sanchez De Alba, Board Member
The following letter from San Mateo County Healthcare for the Homeless and Farmworkers Health Program was read to Pacifica City Council 6/22/20. The recommendation for Safe Parking Programs throughout our county becomes increasingly necessary in this pandemic. The homeless are residents of many communities. To move them away from where they work or go to school, to disrupt ties to church and family, to break established healthcare relationships by relocating them elsewhere — this displacement would be costly to both the health, heart and spirit of our neighbors. Pacifica can do better. Support the Pacifica Resource Center’s Parking Permit Pilot, ask the City Manager to share the pilot draft with Council, and seek for urgent placement on Council agenda.
LETTER FROM HEALTHCARE FOR THE HOMELESS
The Co-Applicant Board of the San Mateo County Health Care for the Homeless and Farmworkers Health Program (“HCH/FH Board”) is in support of creating Safe Parking throughout San Mateo County through cooperation and coordination with all involved parties. The HCH/FH Board is comprised of local community leaders who oversee the federal program managed by San Mateo County to support the access and delivery of necessary and appropriate healthcare services for the homeless and farm worker communities.
Homelessness is a serious, ongoing social concern in the Bay Area. With the lack of affordable housing, more and more individuals and families are being forced out of their current homes and either move from the area or become homeless. Many of the Bay Area residents now experiencing homelessness are stable community members who can simply no longer afford the high costs of housing. Furthermore, more and more San Mateo County residents are turning to their vehicles for a place to stay and sleep. The 2017 San Mateo County One Day Homeless Count found that over 65% of unsheltered homeless individuals were living/sleeping in their cars and RVs, a 34% increase from 2015. Even though the total count of unsheltered homeless persons in the County has continued to drop, the number and percentage of individuals living in their vehicles has increased.
Homeless persons living in their vehicles face an increased risk of trauma, health issues and displacement similar to other unsheltered homeless persons. Continuous moving of locations makes accessing health services and other support services difficult. Safe Parking programs provide safe, secure locations for vehicularly-housed individuals and families, which includes those living in cars or unhooked motorhomes, to park and sleep. Further, in these types of programs, outreach and essential services are co-located to support the families and individuals involved.
To that end, the HCH/FH Board opposes efforts to ban overnight parking countywide and encourages the establishment of Safe Parking locations for the vehicularly-housed residents. Without holistic approaches to address the underlying issues, the individuals involved are simply put at a greater risk of harm, health issues, and permanent displacement.
The Co-Applicant Board of the San Mateo County Health Care for the Homeless/Farmworker Health Program
Brian Greenberg, Ph.D., Co-Applicant and Board Chair on 6/15/20
Street to Beach Cleanup Local Heroes Needed!
The Pacific Beach Coalition invites you to join the Street to Beach Cleanup movement.
4. Download the Clean Swell App to track what you pick up!
Go to the Pacific Beach Coalition website for all the details.
President, Pacific Beach Coalition
Albatross 2020/21 Earth Hero Honoree – “Be A Boss – Help The Albatross”
California Coastal Commission Protects Pacifica from Itself
Authors Margaret Goodale and Stan Zeavin
WOW! It was a cliff-hanger and a totally unexpected result. Amazingly the California Coastal Commission (CCC), in spite of their staff’s careful compromises in order to avoid “take” and allow an “economically viable development,” denied a Coastal Development Permit to build at 1567 Beach Boulevard in a 6-5 vote.
How did we get here? Last year the Pacifica Planning Commission approved seven condominiums north of the pier at the end of Beach Boulevard. Cheryl Henley’s appeal to City Council was denied in June 2019.
Cheryl’s thorough local appeal created the framework for neighbors to begin an appeal to the Coastal Commission. Along with the current CCC guidelines for dealing with sea level rise, neighborhood experience with a failed 2008 CDP appeal, and Nick Langhoff’s engineering expertise contributed to a strong case against development.
CCC staff focused on coastal hazards and armoring, reduced the number of units and set the entire project back farther from the ocean and the unsafe, exposed storm drain and maintenance ramp at the northwest corner of the property. Staff engineers concluded that the owner had underestimated the risks of bluff retreat over the life of the development. Although staff calculated a 300 foot setback to ensure safety for the life of the project, that setback was reduced since it would have eliminated any development at the site. Conditions of approval significantly included “prohibition against future shoreline armoring to protect this development, triggers for future removal/relocation instead of shoreline armoring,… and a waiver of liability”.
In addition to the waiver, there must be a deed restriction attached to the property and a real estate disclosure of hazards to potential buyers. The permittee and all subsequent owners must also acknowledge the following and assume all risks due to coastal hazards: “This site is subject to coastal hazards including but not limited to episodic and long-term shoreline retreat and coastal erosion, high seas, ocean waves, storms, tsunami, tidal scour, wave overtopping, coastal flooding, and their interaction, all of which may be exacerbated by sea level rise.”
What’s next? Margaret says: Pacifica may yet eventually become more sustainable even though this CCC decision will undoubtedly be challenged. Continuing to build walls to keep out the sea won’t work forever. Other solutions must be discussed by all Pacificans who may in the future be required to pay for necessary infrastructure changes. CCC inclusion of managed retreat is currently unpopular with the real estate crowd and their rush to develop, but stopping instead to re-imagine our city for future residents (not merely present profit) may eventually save our town. Rethinking where we develop and where we put affordable housing and our businesses will be necessary. Looking far into the future won’t be easy or fun, but right now with the uncertainty of sea level rise, we should, for the sake of our grandchildren, begin to look at a framework for a twenty to fifty year plan. The world is changing rapidly. Will Pacifica survive?
Stan says: If the City of Pacifica had done their job and not just rubber stamped the development at 1567 Beach Blvd., there never would have been an appeal to CCC. I lay this directly at the feet of our present City Council. The Real Estate Industry backed majority on the council, by demanding no managed retreat and refusing certain CCC hazard guidelines in our new Local Coastal Program (LCP), has wreaked havoc with the negotiations between Pacifica and the CCC. But that wasn’t enough. Concerning this property, they chose to ignore not only the guidelines in our present LCP, i.e., the 1980 LCP, but also the safety of children, elders and the disabled.
The ocean attacks the 1567 site from two sides, on its west side, and also from the north. The CCC scientists stated that if not for economically viable development, there would be no development allowed on this property. Furthermore, if people are trapped by wave overtopping, there is no escape valve (this is a major reason for the Commissioner’s denial). Our present LCP states that all development should be built w/o any consideration of protection from armoring and last 100 years; it also mentions parking issues that should be addressed. All of the above was either ignored or neutralized by our city, including numerous engineering mistakes by the developer.
When the CCC sent their response, the city chose to ignore most of the CCC’s suggestions until the CCC report was presented.
Unless the CCC finally gets fed up with our City Council’s foot dragging, we can expect more of the same type of decision making into the future.
“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war. And until there are no longer first- class and second- class citizens of any nation, until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes. And until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all, without regard to race, there is war. And until that day, the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, rule of international morality, will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained…now everywhere is war.”
(Popularized by Bob Marley in the song “War”)
San Mateo County Offers Low Internet
You may qualify for affordable, Home Internet if you are participating in one of the following programs:
- Child Enrolled in the NSLP (National School Lunch Program)
- CalFresh (food stamps) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
- Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Or Have a Household Income Under $40,000/year
There are 2 ways that you can sign-up for an affordable Home Internet plan:
- Call the company phone number listed below. The company phone numbers are only for affordable offers.
- To determine which of the Internet providers serves your area enter your zip code at this site:
www.everyoneon.org/smc. It will list your choices and you can call the companies in your area.
- Call this Toll-Free number, 844-841-INFO (4636), to find out if you pre-qualify for an affordable offer. If you qualify the representative will have a specialist call you back to help you choose an offer.
“I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and mistrust…We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.”