Cupp: More homes aren't the answer for city

Half Moon Bay Review, May 22, 1996

The staff of the Half Moon Bay Review recently interviewed the three candidates for Half Moon Bay City Council. The newspaper is presenting each candidate's answers. Last week John Maness was profiled. This week Carol Cupp's comments are provided. David Mier will follow next week. Following publication of Mier's profile, all three interviews will be posted from May 23 until election day on June 4 on the Review's Web site.

Space limitations in the newspaper prevented us from printing the interviews in their entirety. For an extended version of the interview with Carol Cupp click here.

Why you are a candidate?

"I feel my candidacy is just a result of a continued involvement in the community. It's just the next step."

What are some of the previous steps you've taken and your previous involvement?

"They started out with neighborhood issues and public safety, working with the city, and moved from there to ordinances, such as the abandoned vehicle ordinance. Then went on to Measure A, to various elections, Measure G, saving the blufftops and then the North Wavecrest referendum.

What made you decide to run for City Council?

"I was the only candidate that was interviewed and was nominated during the appointment process (in December). After working very hard on the November election and having the success that we did, when Larry Patterson resigned I basically saw it as an opportunity to get involved, and of course that was partly due to the fact that Mayor Ruddock suggested that I run, too.

What about Devil's Slide? Do you support the tunnel, the bypass?

"I'm very anxious to see the tunnel study. I've recently been reviewing some literature on the tunnel. I like the idea of a less-interfering alternative than the bypass. Basically, I'm very pro-permanent repair of Highway 1 because I don't feel the community can tolerate another situation like we had (in 1995). I personally love the road the way it is, but that's not realistic for the community."

What about North Wavecrest? Now that that was voted down last November, what do you want to see in North Wavecrest and how would you see that it was implemented?

"The biggest concern I have is that the city look at the area as a pristine area that should attract certainly the best alternatives for land use. We should not look at it as blighted land as it was before. I think that we could certainly attract a lot of options as far as creative plans. I'm not an architect or planner, so we kind of have to go to the experts. But I think that people would be willing to submit plans . . . whatever they think would be a good use. That's a huge amount of acreage."

The people had an alternative before and they didn't like it. If that's one alternative, what's an alternative that's acceptable in your eyes?

"Certainly what I would like to see . . . is first of all light industry. A business park, I think, would be an excellent choice for that land. The second would be an area for therapists to be out there. We have a huge amount of therapists that are working downtown. In fact, I just spoke to one yesterday who mentioned that he takes his clients out for walks. They go out on the bluffs for walks and that's part of their therapy."

What were your problems with the (North Wavecrest) plan as it was presented?

" . . . The main thing I didn't like was 750 homes. I don't think residential development is what we need to increase right now."

Do you see any residential development (in North Wavecrest) taking place?

"I think a small amount. I think around 200 (houses)."

You had mentioned light industry.

"Companies like Odwalla and Passport Design, software companies. There are hundreds of companies out there and I think we've sort of missed an opportunity to have companies come here because we haven't stressed the huge labor pool and talent we have on the coast. We have lots of people living here who are commuting over the hill. Why not have them work here as well as live? I think that more and more people are thinking of that as an alternative."

Do you think the Land Use Plan is relevant in today's Half Moon Bay?

"I feel the current Land Use Plan is inconsistent with the views of residents. I think the voters have clearly said that they want limited residential growth and the Land Use Plan was developed in the 1980s."

There's been a lot of criticism of that feeling as NIMBYism. Do you think that is a fair criticism?

"I don't think that anyone really feels that way. I think that most of us just feel there has to be some limitation because the reasons we moved here are going to be destroyed if we allow it to be built up like San Mateo. When you talk about closing the door, I have no problem with people moving here, but do we have to build more homes so that people have brand new homes instead of buying the current ones that are already here?"

What rights do landowners have to utilize their property, and if property has been zoned for a particular use since 1986, would it be fair to come in at this point and rezone it to a less-intensive use?

"It would have to be up to the voters to do that. But I do think the City Council certainly cannot go in and change the Land Use Plan now if that would just open us up to legal problems."

"I do think there is a need (to change the Land Use Plan). I would support it if that's what the voters voted."

Conversely, what rights do residents have to control development?

"You mentioned about property rights. I feel that people have property rights and I'm not going to tell anyone how they can use their property except if it impacts the rest of the community."

You say "when it impacts a community." At what point does that take place and what then are the city's rights?

"Depending on how large the development is, what they're planning to do, I think that they need to look at the ramifications of that development. Certainly in North Wavecrest if we said to the developers, `You have pay for your sewer and water and roads to be built, and you also have to give us traffic mitigation so that we can enlarge the roads to handle the additional traffic,' it's not going to be as attractive to them. Or if it is, at least the city won't be suffering financially."

You're going to need developers if you're going to develop light industry?

"But you work with those developers. You don't just let them come in. It's like what we used to allow people to do to the forest, just come in destroy them and leave you with nothing. There's a difference. You can come in and log correctly or you can take everything."

What are the top three priorities that you would like to see the city make happen?

"One of the big things is establishing and trying to fund a Coastside park. I've been involved on the task force on that. The second thing is coming up with a plan for North Wavecrest. The third thing is the sewer expansion."

Why does the city need to come up with a plan for North Wavecrest? Isn't that something the developer should do?

"The city should be in the driver's seat. That's been the problem all along. If we truly want to keep it a redevelopment project, then it's up to the city."

Do you want to keep it a redevelopment project?

"I think we need to look at alternatives both ways."

Do you feel there is a problem in the Police Department?

"I feel the high turnover is an issue. It concerns me that we have basically low-experienced people, but I've talked to the police chief in person and he's told me that we're starting to hire people with more experience and we've got a full staff. They now have gotten their numbers back up where they should be."

What should be done with the property to the north of the Conservatory and how do you propose to pay for the land if you don't want to do what the landowner wants to do?

"I think we do need to be aware of ocean views because that is going to affect land values in that area. The fact is we have this wonderful ocean view. Our town is named after Half Moon Bay. We should be able to see that Half Moon Bay shape. We shouldn't have it lined with condos. That certainly isn't my idea or vision for the future of Half Moon Bay."

What was your reaction when you first heard about the Conservatory fire?

"My first reaction was that it was like an April Fools joke. My second reaction was who was responsible, sort of disbelief that it could happen. But yet at the time I wasn't surprised. I know that probably sounds contradictory, but it's something that I think all of us looked at that and said `I wouldn't be a bit surprised if someone burns it down,' but not thinking it would ever really happen."

"A lot of people were concerned about the loss to the owner of the property and what a terrible thing, but on the same side they said, `Geez, it's better for us.' That's the way they looked at it."

Do you think it's better for you?

"People were just glad to see it gone and they weren't agreeing with the way it was done. It was just that they were so unhappy with the project that they just felt, not that in any means they would condone burning it down, just that somebody had done it and, `Oh gee, now we have our views back and now we can see how nice it was without it'

"So many times in life when something happens you want to, it's like, that was just a video right? Can I hit rewind and go back. We got to go back. And I think that people are appreciating that opportunity, per se, as a way to go back and relook at the situation. I know the developer doesn't feel that way."

Do you think that sends a mixed message?

". . . Just think about it. How are we all going to feel even if the project is completed. Do you think anyone's ever going to like it? How attractive is the project going to be to other people coming to buy into hotel rooms when they know the community is very unhappy with the project? I just see himself setting himself up for a lot of vandalism problems. What are you going to have, an armed gate around the place and security guards all the time? I would think it would be common sense just to come up with something more in line."

What most qualifies you to be a council member?

"I have the time. I have the energy. I have the determination, and the experience with my involvement in the community. I feel I'm objective."

Half Moon Bay Review