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Residents Speak Against Alleged Call for Planning Director's Resignation

Half Moon Bay Planning Director Steve Flint extolled at council meeting.

In the wake of the alleged call by Half Moon Bay City Manager Laura Snideman for the resignation of Planning Director Steve Flint, several Half Moon Bay residents took the opportunity at Tuesday night's City Council meeting to praise the contributions of Flint over his near 7-year term.

The Half Moon Bay Review reported on Monday that Snideman asked Flint to submit his resignation no later than Tuesday night's council meeting.

The named cause for the city's alleged action has not been disclosed by councilmembers, Snideman or Flint.

Both Flint and the city would not comment at Tuesday's meeting on whether he had submitted a letter of resignation.

"All I can say is that there is an active personnel matter with Steve Flint," Snideman said Tuesday night.

Six residents, including Flint's wife Kendall, delivered comments in support of the Planning Director to Mayor Allan Alifano, Councilmember Marina Fraser and Councilmember John Muller.

"I worked with Flint for his entire tenure," said Tom Roman, Half Moon Bay Planning Commissioner. Roman specified that his comments were being made from his perspective as an individual and not as a planning commissioner.

"He’s shepherded a number of projects through the community," Roman added, naming the CCWD pipeline replacement, the , and the as examples.

The alleged call for resignation comes a few months after a San Mateo County court was announced in November in favor of resident Jimmy Benjamin for a lawsuit filed against the city. Judge Julie Conger wrote a decision which agreed with the plaintiff's allegation that Half Moon Bay violated the California Coastal Act in 2009 when it cleared a drainage ditch of vegetation classified as endangered species habitat without obtaining a Coastal Development Permit first.

Judge Conger's decision — which involved fining the city $1,000 a day for each day the violation of the California Coastal Act persisted — could translate into over $1 million in fines for Half Moon Bay.

According to The Half Moon Bay Review, the city still has an opportunity to settle the case with Benjamin since Conger's previous ruling was not final.

"I'm not sure how this whole thing has come about," said Harry Ysselstein to the assembled councilmembers. "I’ve looked at what he [Flint] has accomplished, his committment to this community and frankly, are we looking for a scapegoat here?"

"And if we are, who’s the right scapegoat?" Ysselstein continued. "I can’t answer that question when you look at someone doing this for seven years doing what Steve has done and up until now, everything has been copacetic. I understand the [Kehoe] Ditch...and a lot of details haven’t come out and what Judge Conger said I understand, but the veracity of what she said is open for discussion."

Kendall Flint said that she and her husband have received over 20 phone calls each from concerned members of the community over the last few days.

"People who I never have thought would have supported Steve were pissed," she said.

"At this point Steve has entered into a discussion with the city and they are working towards a resolution," Kendall Flint said.

"We’re not leaving Half Moon Bay but we may not be here in the same capacity," she said.

Snideman said that she could not provide comment on when she anticipates the matter will be resolved.

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Amy Worden February 22, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Both the Patch and HMB Review need to demand that the transcripts be pulled up and re read, whereby former City Manager Michael Dolder and council directed PW Director to have the ditches cleaned. Said PW director stated he would take care of it, and that the work would be done with hand tools, thereby not requiring a CD permit.
George Muteff February 22, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Amy, first off, hello. Long time no see. Hope all is well. Now to point: The Kehoe Ditch was 'transformed' from a ditch to a riparian habitat (an ESHA) when the pre-2006 Council (and appointees, including Benjamin) stopped the maintenance of that ditch and all the others in town - which would include the ditches along Highway 92 (which Caltrans cleans,,,they were told to stop by then City leadership). By not cleaning (maintaining) the ditches, it afforded nature the opportunity to create wetland conditions (hydric soil, etc). We knew that ditch had transformed because CCWD had to jack and bore under two spots for the El Granada Pipeline project; once for Frnchman's Creek and once for the Kehoe Ditch. So there is no question that based on actions taken that the City knew the ditch to be classified as an ESHA. As such, they knew a CDP was required. Dolder knew it and as the HMB Interim City Manager, the buck runs through him on its way to the Council. Dolder took the risk - and we lost - again. Flint serves at the pleasure of the City Manager. He can and does sign Discretionary CDP's, yet didn't here. So again, while an outsider collects his retirement in another location, we are stuck (like a pig, frankly). I may be wrong, but everything seems to be pointing in one direction; Flint is the fall guy and Benjamin is pulling strings. Now how's that for leadership?
Brian Ginna February 22, 2012 at 06:38 PM
We know Benjamin is trying to shake the Council down for money - that is the entire reason for the lawsuit in the first place. He is intentionally trying to damage the City and the City Council and guess what? The City Council is falling for it. Please say no to Mr. Benjamin's blackmail.
George Muteff February 22, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Brian, good morning to you, too. With all due respect, I disagree with you on this. Knowing the players, and we both do, you have to know and realize that Benjamin isn't in it for the money; at least I don't think so. Benjamin is just being Benjamin. He is an alleged enviro nut (IMHO) and has had a stronger hand in local affairs than most know. The Gale project, Beachwood, the Boys & Girls Club, the Kehoe Ditch and so much more going back to the late 1990's when he was appointed to the Planning Commission was the start of the Benjamin ideology. Working closely with Toni Taylor, Mike Ferreira, George Carmen, Lani Reams, Jim Grady, Lennie Roberts and the rest of the no-growth crowd that we managed to expel in the 2005 City election, he managed to stop or severely cripple project after project in HMB. No, I don't believe it's about the money, although I'm sure he'll take what's given (just as a 'benefit'), I doubt he will ever recover the resources he's expended to date on this. That said, there are other 'wins' available. Getting the Council to kiss his ... ring would be one. The inflation of his ego would be another. The idea that the City is negotiating with Benjamin, instead of forcing that ditzy judge to finish what she started is driving me crazy, frankly. IF this action is a result of what I think, it is a (continuing) very poor commentary on our elected officials. IF what I believe is correct, the proper term would have to include extortion.
Brian Ginna February 22, 2012 at 07:40 PM
George - he is the type to get a big settlement of the City's money (which, of course, is our money) and donate it to some pet organization of his. And he wants his attorney's fees as well. Just look at his quote from the Review's article: "I have not proposed a settlement condition that requires the resignation of Steve Flint," he wrote. "Steve's employment with the city is a matter between him and the city manager with oversight of the City Council." Oh, good to know that he is not demanding a resignation. Well, at least he is not admitting that he may or may not have asked that Flint resign. Why anyone would trust Mr. Benjamin or his motives regarding any subject is a mystery to me. He has zero credibility. All we need to do is look at the archives of Jim Grady's home approval. Yeah, the one with the ditch that WAS running right beside . Why did Mr. Benjamin not have a problem then?
George Muteff February 22, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Let us not forget that Mr Benjamin will be contributing to the final result - the fine. Whatever the City ends up paying (for the fine alone) will be another bill paid by us. Like it or not, in that regard Benjamin is one of us. That's part of the oddity of the whole affair, but then we're talking Jimmy Benjamin. Mr Benjamin and myself have butted heads many times in disagreements on many issues. I know Benjamin to be very bright and very articulate. I also know Benjamin can be a huge pain and you can find your own location for that pain, but I suspect we all have a good idea where that might be. I also know Mr Benjamin to carry an ego and to love attention, even if it perceived as bad attention. Just look at his ragging and complaining over the tsunami sirens...well... not all of them; as luck would have it, his concern seemed to be solely centered on the siren near his abode. Coincidence, I'm sure. This ditch matter is another in a string of complaints, that Benjamin has had a part in. I doubt he'll turn down any green (not enviro green, either) that may be tossed his way, but to be immortalized in martyrdom as a savior of HMB, saving it from itself, well now that sounds more like the Jimmy we all know and love - don't you think? I doubt we will ever get the straight skinny on the Flint matter; personnel issue and all, but it sure does smell nasty. Just doesn't add up.
George Muteff February 22, 2012 at 08:21 PM
One more sliver of pertinent data: In the 6 & 1/2 years that Flint has been HMB Planning Director, he has not had one performance review; Not One! That alone has to tell anyone with even passing interest how things work around here.
George Muteff February 22, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Oh, while all this (and more) is going on, did you happen to look at the Agenda for last night's Council meeting? Links don't work well on this blog, but if you go to www.hmbcity.com, hit 'view calendar' (on the right) and left click City Council meeting on 2/21, the Agenda will pop up. The very last Item, Item 13 titled "Approve City Council Code of Responsible Practices" is worth a look. Check out the staff report on this one. What does that tell us?
Acela Sarabia April 18, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Why not just bottom line the meaning of this issue.

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