Business group backs off tunnel opposition

Half Moon Bay Review, Oct. 30, 1996

By Eric Rice

A stronghold of pro-development politics, the San Mateo County Economic Development Association, joined the pro-Measure T tide last week by withdrawing its opposition to the Devil's Slide tunnel measure.

At its monthly meeting Thursday, SAMCEDA's Board of Directors "reconsidered" the position it took in June against Measure T. While stopping short of endorsing the measure, SAMCEDA promised to be a leader in the fight for funding for a tunnel if the measure passes.

Denise de Ville, president and chief executive officer of SAMCEDA, said the board was convinced by the findings of the recent tunnel study.

She said that at the time the board came out against Measure T, there was no information about cost, the mountain's geology or engineering. With that information now in hand, de Ville said, "the cost (of a tunnel) is within a range we believe voters will accept."

de Ville said the board did not take a stand in favor of the measure because SAMCEDA is only for ensuring that a reliable alternative to the current Highway 1 alignment be built, not particularly what type of road should be utilized.

"It had absolutely nothing to do with a tunnel or bypass," she said of the new position. "It had to do with process."

Max Keech, chairman of the board, also alluded to process and the power of the electorate to determine the road's future.

"Though the board continues to hold a strong philosophy that the best land-use planning is left to elected officials to determine, our initiative process allows such planning to be brought to the voters," Keech said in a statement.

The change of heart was welcomed by Zoe Kersteen-Tucker, spokeswoman for the Yes on T campaign.

"It's a very good thing," Kersteen-Tucker said. "It indicates one of the last strongholds against Measure T has folded."

If Measure T passes, SAMCEDA committed to be "the lead business organization to lobby (the California Department of Transportation), (Metropolitan Transportation Commission), our congressional delegation, and other involved agencies to appropriate adequate funding for a tunnel solution."

If the measure fails, SAMCEDA said it will lead efforts to amend the Local Coastal Plan to allow for the development of either a tunnel or the Martini Creek Bypass.

Half Moon Bay Review