Half Moon Bay Review, May 22, 1996
Why did you decide to run for City Council?
"I decided to run largely because I didn't think we had a candidate who could join the existing council and work with them, get along and perhaps reach some consensus on issues instead of fighting over them?
Describe the qualities or traits you have that allow you to work with such disparate personalities as Deborah and Naomi and Dennis and Jerry.
"Probably the strongest quality is that I'm open-minded. I can listen to an idea, regardless of who's presenting it. I haven't been involved in the dogfights of the past, so there isn't any bad blood between me and Naomi or Deborah or anyone.
You seem to have initiated some kind of bad blood just by the fact of your running when Carol was the chosen one from (the Neighbors' Alliance).
"When I learned that Carol was the chosen one, I didn't have a problem with that initially. I was told by Art Zich that she wasn't certain she wanted to run and I called her on the telephone and she told me she wasn't certain she wanted to run. We had a number of conversations after that. Finally, she told me, in fact it was the night before I filed my papers that she was frustrated and wished Deborah Ruddock would make a decision. At that moment I decided I was going to run. If she didn't know in her own mind that she wanted to run for City Council then I thought that probably she shouldn't, number one, and number two, if she had to ask Deborah Ruddock that tells me a lot about her. First and foremost, she can't make up her own mind. What this city needs right now is some sense of leadership, or at least people who can gather whatever facts are available, analyze them and make their own decision."
You've been cast as the sleeper candidate who is financed by Ocean Colony who is not really working for the residents but there to take votes away. How do you see yourself as a candidate. Do you align yourself with either side? Do you think the characterization that because you're receiving money from Ocean Colony that you're a development candidate?
"The fact is, at least to my knowledge, we have not received any money from Ocean Colony.
You don't count Mike Ferreira in with that?
Mike Ferrera has historically been painted as a developer. And no one person can show me one property he's ever developed. It's not happened. In fact, if Bill Barrett would pull out his file of headaches, Mike Ferrera would be responsible for a number of them. My friendship with Mike Ferrera I don't think aligns me in any way with the golf course, or developers, or anyone for that matter."
"I think of myself as a traditional moderate candidate. If a housing development plan was presented, for example, and I thought it was a good idea, a good plan, I feel I could vote for that and the consequences be damned. At the same time, if I thought we needed to plant a grove of trees there I could do that as well."
In the past, though, haven't you tended to lean more towards the Neighbors' Alliance view of the world?
"Yes I have. I've tended to support their view to the extent that they support and led, continued to lead a controlled growth kind of approach to our town. Recently, I've formed the opinion that their attitude has changed and it's no longer controlled growth, but no growth. I think that goes too far. I think no growth is a bad approach."
"I think I still share a lot of their views, or past views, in that I don't want to see our coast, particularly Half Moon Bay, full of residential development.
What about Devil's Slide? What alternative do you support for fixing the problem there. And in the case of the tunnel, do you support the tunnel initiative?
"I'm not sure which of the two alternatives are best. I don't think repairing the existing road is an option. It's not a permanent solution to the problem. The other thing I don't like about that, even if it were to be a permanent solution is that that option closes off our coast once again just as it did last year.
You don't have a preference though, what you would like to see there?
"I don't have a preference. ... I will support whatever the experts recommend."
They both seem to be geologically possible. What it seems to be coming down to is a matter of cost?
"If for example the tunnel is deemed to be a viable solution and it costs significantly less than say a bypass, I would certainly support the tunnel over the bypass.
What would you consider significantly less?
"A quarter of a million (dollars)."
What if they both come back costing the same and are both viable alternatives?
"Then I think I would support the tunnel. I think it has the least impact on natural resources. It doesn't carve through the mountain. I don't think you'd see the kind of public outrage that we will likely see with the bypass."
What about North Wavecrest? What would you like to see out there, and how would you implement that?
"I have no idea what's feasible there. It'd be nice to see a number of options for that area.
Should the city be taking an active roll in pursuing some kind of development plan out there, or figure out what works for him and let people decide if they like it?
"I don't believe that the city has any real responsibility or urgent need to do anything with that at the moment. If the developer wants to propose a plan, then we look at the plan. I don't see anything wrong with North Wavecrest the way it is now."
"There's a process. I'm convinced a plan is coming sooner or later, probably sooner, and at that point we need to evaluate what it is that's proposed. It may be that the developer comes in with a very attractive proposal."
How did you feel about Measure I (the North Wavecrest redevelopment proposal) How did you vote on it?
"I didn't vote on it. I didn't make it to the polls that day. . . . I was working. I couldn't get back in time."
How would you have voted?
"I would have opposed it. I, like a lot of people, didn't have confidence in the proposal. I didn't think that everything was on the table. What it boiled down to me was a matter of trust. I didn't trust them. Our city, our leadership was very much involved in that process and I'm not convinced they totally understood the whole thing."
Do you see homes out there?
"Large numbers of homes translates to large numbers of people, cars, and problems, and right now I don't think we have the resources to deal with that. I think where we need to go is to focus on the problems we have today before we start creating more problems."
Do you feel the 20,000 the city is planned for is a good number?
"I think it's a fine number provided we have the infrastructure to deal with it. . . . I'm not convinced we need a bypass for 20,000 people.
The property north of Conservatory is proposed for a 32-room addition to the Conservatory. Is that an acceptable use of land?
"I don't know. I'd have to see what it looks like? I haven't given it much thought. I don't know what else you could put there that would mix well with a hotel and a restaurant."
The harbor is designated visitor-serving. Does that need to change?
"I think that we need some visitor-serving facilities. We need hotels, and I don't think we can in any way enact policice that forbids a property owner from doing something with his property unless we are prepared to buy that property. If you want to preserve it, to guarantee that it's open, then buy it."
Carol Cupp is proposing to rezone parts of the city for light industrial development, but you prefer visitor-serving?
"I prefer that because the city benefits much more from visitor-serving enterprises than it does from light industry. The only benefit from light industry is that a few people may be able to work here as opposed to San Mateo or Redwood City, whereas visitor-serving carries a tax that we all benefit from."
Would you try to drum up support for Ocean Colony hotel as a councilor?
" ...what we say in the press in the wake of an arson. When our leadership comes out on the news and suggests there's some sort of legitimacy to this arson, look, every time we make the news it's something goofy. We've got Polly Klaas' (suspected) killer in Pescadero, we've got Garrett (Redmond) saying you folks don't have to deal with homework any more. We have little kids flying airplanes, and now we're all standing around cheering over an arson. We look like a bunch of nuts."
How would you address that as a council member?
"We need to impress upon our leadership that they are not representing themselves or their own little clique, they're representing the entire Coastside when they get on television and start talking about these things. And sometimes you have to be a little more conservative with your views. ... I don't think it was very well thought out."
Will you seek re-election in 1997?
"Eighteen months is about enough time to get familiar with what's going on."
What are your biggest misgivings about opponents? Why would you not vote for them?
"Carol Cupp in my view is not a leader, she's a follower. I have a real problem with someone who cannot tell us whether or not it's right or wrong in her mind to stand at a fire scene, an arson, and clap and cheer and have a good time. If she doesn't know how she feels about that, I have a real problem with her. I think that says a lot about her character. To me it suggests that she didn't have a problem with that."
"The only thing I can say about Dave, to his detriment he's Old Guard. He's identified as Old Guard. He's been in that camp for better than 20 years and he owes an allegiance to those people. I don't know that he can't deal with that, but the perception is that he is beholden to them and even in the face of a decision he did not agree with, he would be inclined, I think, to go that way because he owes it to them. I don't see that Cupp is that entrenched in the Alliance, although I don't think she needs to be. I think she'll do what she's told. But to Dave's credit, he has more experience than Carol or I. ... I think he'd be an asset to the council."
Would you be an asset?
"Sure. I don't owe anyone anything."
What direction do you see the city heading in and 10 years from now, will be a place you and others will want to live in?
"I don't really know where we're headed right now. We're sort of struggling right now with what we want to be when we grow up. I think we need to first decide what we want to be when we grow up and work from there."
Tell me a little about private investigating.
"It involves information gathering. Collecting facts, analyzing the facts and trying to draw some conclusions from them. ... We handle criminal prosecution cases, criminal defense cases, we search for natural parents of adoptees, we handle personal injury investigations for lawyers who want to sue someone."
Do you think that the Land Use Plan is a relevant document in today's Half Moon Bay?
"I think that I need to look at it more carefully. I have asked some people who should know, Chris Gustin for example, and he insists that it's an excellent document. It's his job; he ought to know."
What rights do landowners have to develop their property?
"Clearly landowners have a right to develop their property, but you can't move into the neighborhood and become a bully. You have to find out what the concerns are and you have to respond to them."
Do you think developers have come into town and have been bullies here?
"I don't think so. I think they've gone through our process. I don't want to criticize past councils, but developers have had a pretty good time here. It's been fairly easy to present a plan and get it through the process. I think that has changed and it's getting more difficult to get a plan through and as a result we're getting better plans."
What about residents' rights to control the destiny of their community?
"They have the ultimate right. They do that through electing people who somehow preserve a balance between the property owners and the residents. It's not good enough to say that other folks can't live here for the same reasons that everyone else moved here. At the same time we can't allow another 20,000 people to come in next week."
"I don't think that the entire community is represented by the City Council There's some people that are not pro-development or even development friendly and other people who don't believe that I have mine and the hell with you. There are a lot of people in the middle."
What would you hope to accomplish most as a council member?
"Some degree of consensus on the existing council. I'd like to think that we can restore the town's faith in the City Council. Right now I don't think the people have a lot of confidence in our council, the ability to take care of our needs?
What do you attribute that lack of confidence to?
"Fighting. The almost constant fighting."
How would you be different in that equation?
"We've evolved to the point where two people with conflicting viewpoints can't sit down on their own and talk about their ideas and reach some kind of consensus. It's often there and you can have it, but you have to have an atmosphere in which to bring it out and we don't have that atmosphere."
Do you think there are problems in the Police Department?
"No question about it."
What are they?
"Number one, there's a lack of leadership. . . . On a day to day basis, the chief is responsible to make that department work. I think what's happened there is the chief has excused himself from his responsibility to be the leader and instead has . . . spent too much time on extracurricular activities, for example, he's the president of the Police Chief's Association. He's heavily involved in Lions, in a number of other activities that take away time that's needed to deal with the problems in the police department.
"The first thing he should do is be there and be focused and recognize he has a problem, and it's not all money, salaries.
How would you correct the problems?
"Start with hiring a city manager who's focused and someone who's willing to take a look at that and insist that the leadership be restored there, one way or another."
You left the police department under somewhat clouded conditions. Why should I believe that you could make objective decisions, or not take out some sort of vengence against a person or persons in the police department?
"I guess because of the fact I spent seven years there as both an employee and a manager and I care about the department. It's not to propel some sort of vendetta or settle a score. I don't believe that Dennis Wick is responsible for my leaving, not entirely. We certainly didn't get along at that time. I think it was a combination of things. It's pretty complicated and I don't profess to understand the whole thing right now. I think that the city failed completely with respect to the police department four years ago. There was a problem in the police department and the city manager failed to deal with it and the City Council failed to deal with it and there's still a problem."
Almost every officer has left the department or is in the process of interviews with other department. What does that say about the City Council?
"It says they're not paying attention. I don't think they were ignoring the problem. Partly because during the past several years we've had a city manager that's either not agreed there was a problem, or would not bother to deal with it. It wasn't a priority."
"I don't think any of them realized the turnover and why people were leaving. In our system the chief reports to the city manager and the city manager reports to the council."
You said officer pay is part of the problem. How would you remedy that?
"It's an issue of priorities and where we put our money. I talked to the chief about what's going on there from his perspective and what he thought the solution was. Largely he thought it was money, although he acknowledged there were some other problems. Manpower is another problem he views as serious. The calls for service continue to increase. The level of crime, the nature of crime, is worsening. They're seeing more crimes than they have in the past. He doesn't believe, and I agree, that he has the resources to deal with all of that. More officers are needed, but there's a dilemma. The chief cannot keep the people he has now and he believes if he had to choose between four or five more officers and more money for the existing officers he would choose to pay the existing officers more money. I agree with him."
Have you talked with the chief since you left the department?
Yeah, I talked with him a few weeks ago. It had been a while since I had talked with him, but I was really surprised he was as frank about things as he was."
Do you feel you can work with him?
The Conservatory is estimated to bring in $173,000 a year after the third year in transient occupancy taxes. What would your priorities for that money be? If you're elected on June 4 they may be adopting a budget at the next meeting?
"I'd have to look at the whole picture. . . . I don't think that with the budget that's coming up, we should be counting on any money from The Conservatory.
Do you have any spending priorities or things that you want to see funded?
"If I had some money to spend I'd give the cops a raise. That's because I know that's something that's needed. That's not because they're my friends."
What are the top three priorities right now you feel the city needs to deal with?
"First priority is that we need to get a council that's back to work, that is able to reach consensus on most issues, not on just a few. I thinkwe need to take a very serious look at our financial picture and make sure that the things we're doing today are going to be beneficial for us down the road. I think we need to make sure there is a long-term plan and a rationale basis for that plan."
What were your first thoughts when you heard about The Conservatory fire after you realized the person who told you wasn't joking?
"To go look at it. To believe it."
What is the appropriate response is to something like this?
"To acknowledge that this fire that we now know is an arson is wrong. There's no justification for it, and we should stand tall and let the rest of the county and the rest of the Bay Area know that we don't promote this sort of lawlessness on the coast. Period. To suggest that we do something about this hotel plan would be to suggest that we negotiate with this firebug. I don't support that, and I don't think our electorate should in any way legitimize this arson."
"If the answer is to rework the plan, it has to be with his buy-in. One-hundred percent. We're not going to get that by name-calling or ridicule. If you're going to get it at all it's going to be by persuasion. The guy is a businessman and businessmen understand numbers and someone is going to have to pay for it. He's not going to pay for it. He has no reason to. So the question is: Are the taxpayers in Half Moon Bay and El Granada willing to foot the bill, because that's what it's going to take?
Half Moon Bay Review