There was another Planning Director’s meeting in Half Moon Bay this afternoon, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012.
Some may remember June’s Planning Director’s meeting where HMB’s largest infrastructure project was but a pen stroke away from approval — and no doubt more land use litigation for Half Moon Bay.
Fortunately, the new Interim Planning Director listened to the few members of the public that were present and denied the requested Coastal Development Permit (CDP) in favor of placing the Item in front of the Planning Commission for public input and discussion, which is where it belonged.
At today's Planning Director's meeting there was only one item on the agenda: an application for a CDP from John Muller, a sitting City Council member. It is PDP-039-09.
I can certainly understand the need for water. Water issues are nothing to mess around with and need to be addressed. What concerns me is not the "project" although anyone looking at the staff report would certainly have questions.
No, what concerns me is process/protocol. The question I keep stumbling over is simple and direct: If that were me, or you, would the same rules apply?
We have a project in an area that has had issues before. The request is 3 years old and all the supporting documentation (bio reports and such) are also three years old. The project was originally submitted in August 2009. A few of the questions that crossed my mind would include:
- why would someone requesting a CDP submit the request without having all one’s ducks lined up and ready to go?
- why would someone requesting a CDP for a water line extension for crops seek a 6” line? Subdivisions use a 6” line.
- the location of where the water is going to be used for irrigation is land locked. Why is it that the owner of the property that the line has to cross didn’t submit his approval until July of this year?
- there are more, but I suppose the biggest question I would have is perception based: why does a sitting Council member not want this to go in front of the Planning Commission where the same project would have to go if it were someone else?
- this is an election year in HMB, and his seat is open. If this went in front of the Planning Commission, one has to wonder if the scrutiny of the Commission and public would interfere with his bid for a Council seat that he is striving for?
All fair and reasonable questions, I believe. It centers on and around transparency.
I do not begrudge the Muller’s their water. If they need it, and it sounds like they do, then why not embrace the process that everyone else has to use? Why provide the perception that something doesn’t smell right? What questions are lingering out there that Muller is concerned with on this?
One would think that as a sitting Council member, past Mayor and lifelong resident of Half Moon Bay, that he would embrace public scrutiny to get what he wants. For many, perception is reality and the perception here lends itself to legitimate questions. Questions we may never get to ask or hear the answers to, as the Interim Planning Director approved the project this afternoon calling it a health and safety issue.
Really? Is it really a health and safety issue? And it’s been in the “loop” for three years? Really?
One would think that Half Moon Bay would be a little more careful with land use issues seeing as how we have another 27 years of $1.13 million per year coming right off the top of our budget to settle Beachwood and the Settlement Agreement ink on the Kehoe Ditch matter (which cost us just short of $1 million in penalties) is not even dry yet. That, btw, doesn’t include Oak Park; a City project built on land the City didn’t own. That litigation cost us as well.
I’d say our land use track record needs help, certainly more attention than it’s been getting to this point.
I don’t know where it will go from here. Maybe it gets appealed and maybe it doesn’t; but the point that perception is reality and the perception here doesn’t favor Muller should concern a sitting Council member. But I’ve been wrong before ... many times.
It concerns me, and I believe it should concern all Half Moon Bay residents. If it does get appealed, that appeal will chew up yet more City resources (our money and staff time), and we just don’t have the resources, can’t afford it.