ISSUES & INSIGHTS
It's All About Community
Current Priority Issues
What in your background recommends you for a City Council position?
I moved to Pacifica in 1985 – 35 years ago – purchased a home in 1988 and have been involved in giving back to the community since. I served as President and Treasurer of Pacifica’s Environmental Family during my 6 years on the board. I am currently on a leave of absence from my role as a Pacifica Resource Center board member. I am also Treasurer for Pacifica Gardens and was Co-Director, Business and Administration of Pacifica Gardens. I have been an active volunteer with Pacific Beach Coalition and the Pacifica Resource Center.
I was a parent volunteer throughout my children’s elementary and junior high school education years in the Pacifica School District. I was a classroom volunteer, field trip leader, parent chaperone and was active in event coordination and fundraising. (Fellow parents may remember me as Marj Burnfield.)
I have a 30 year career in an industry that requires technical understanding, critical thinking, collaborative team work, trouble shooting, thinking outside the box and problem solving. These are all characteristics that will serve me well as a City Council member. I have a proven track record and reputation, both as a community volunteer and professionally, as a consensus builder, trouble shooter, community builder, environmentalist and strategic business professional. I am known as someone who gets things done. I have a non-polarizing approach and talent, both as a participant and leader.
What are the most important issues facing Pacifica?
In no particular order of importance:
Affordable housing/RV homeless – This situation is complex and has been moving towards some resolution. As an update on Oversized Vehicle Parking issue, it is my understanding that the City Council made final decisions at the last meeting, September 14, 2020 around the Large Vehicle Ordinance; the ordinance will be enforced, there will be no safe parking program and the City Manager is going to approach the RV park again. Beyond that I am sure that the City and PRC will continue to give a hand up to the homeless and assist those who are looking for permanent housing, as they have been doing.
This is an emotional issue where everyone just wants to feel safe. I do support the city and PRC continuing to provide services and support to those in need. It is important in this pandemic to provide safe space for people who are in need of and seeking permanent housing. Doing that is the right thing, for the individuals and for public health and safety. What we need now is the will and collaboration of the community, the city and the council to come up with the final details that will allow all members of the community to feel safe, as well as protect public health and safety. What we do not need is polarizing rhetoric that does not contribute to a solution. I would like to see stronger county involvement, financially and participatory, as we continue to address this immediate need during the pandemic.
Legally, we cannot just remove all of the RV’s from our city streets. However, we don’t want to attract more RVs to Pacifica and we don’t have to accept illegal behavior wherever it happens — in RVs, homes or on the street. But we CAN help those who will accept help to become housed. I do not believe the solution is unsafe RV parking in residential areas.
Many of the homeless find themselves in this situation because of rising home prices and rents in Pacifica. Affordable housing is a necessity for our service workers in our community.
Sea level rise – Scientific data shows that sea level rise is a reality. We need to be prepared and to have a plan for this. It is my understanding that there is the Local Coastal Plan Update under way from the city that is with the Coastal Commission. One priority is to focus on the protection and restructuring of critical infrastructure such as our sewer system. If you live away from the high risk area, you are not immune, every household relies on a strong, intact and functioning sewer system.
Economic recovery from the pandemic – As a small community we rely on small businesses to provide goods, services and the sense of community that makes Pacifica special. The city also depends on business for a portion of its revenue. During, but as importantly, coming out of this pandemic, we need to be aware, knowledgeable and take advantage of any and all assistance we can garner for our small business owners, the unemployed, our city and community and others in need as a result of the pandemic. There will be plans and programs in place to help, but we need to be aggressive in asking and securing the assistance we need to keep our businesses and our community healthy and strong as we continue through and emerge from the pandemic. I also support rent and eviction protection through, and as we emerge from, the pandemic.
Wildfire prevention and plan – this is a newer issue graphically illustrated this year in lightening caused wildfires here on the coast in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. Each year more devastating fires have hit California, starting in 2015 with the Valley Fire in Lake County. We need a plan for wildfire prevention that includes working with PG&E on tree maintenance, our own city tree inventory and tree and vegetation maintenance plan; public education on prevention, property maintenance and evacuation preparation and execution. These are some of the important elements to this issue.
Verizon cell antennas near homes - This is about the proposed location for a Verizon cell antenna that is 17 feet from a family’s home. I know there are some FCC restrictions on the city about this issue, but the City Council needs to insist Verizon looks at ALL options. Verizon is a $130 billion dollar company (average total revenue 2015 – 2019). They have the resources to find alternative locations that are not intrusive to the residents. By stopping this first cell antenna from going up, the city will be able to plan a strategic city layout thoughtfully and safely for all the residents of Pacifica. Additionally we can look at what we can do around creating an ordinance that requires certain distance from residential properties for cell antennas. Finally, Senator Feinstein has introduced a bill on this topic to provide cities more options. Until that is approved, we need to be our own advocates and pursue all options to keep our citizens safe in their homes.
Fireworks - My view on this issue is, particularly with the threat of wildfires and climate change, it is definitely time to stop being one of two cities in San Mateo County that still sells “safe and sane” fireworks. The other 18 cities in the county do not allow the sale of fireworks. Yes, fireworks sales support several sports and community groups. Suggestion: give them 1 to 2 years to figure out alternative fundraising plans; after that, no more fireworks sales. The groups selling fireworks can network with other similar groups – Boy Scouts, AYSO, Little League, etc. – in other cities that don't allow fireworks sales and work with them to find out how they fundraise and to develop alternate plans. Ultimately, we could let the community decide.
Transportation - I would advocate for an increase in service from SamTrans, specifically an increase in frequency, direct routes and affordable fares into San Francisco and down the Peninsula. The City needs assertive representation on the SamTrans board. I would work with other organizations to advocate and campaign for ride sharing, car/van pools and a reduction in single occupancy driving. I would also work to encourage the use of local businesses and services. I would like to hear from the community on what their transportation needs and concerns are.
Seawall / Beach Blvd Infrastructure Resiliency Project - My understanding of the situation with the seawall is that the north side of the pier is in need of repair and rebuild. Since its being built in 1984 it has experienced failures and is a public health and safety risk. The south side is in better condition and has a different design although there is a gap that can allow high surf ingress at the south end. To quote the City website, “The Project is an infrastructure protection and improvement project that is critical to the public health and safety of the citizens and visitors in and around the historic West Sharp Park neighborhood”. I support this project to rebuild the seawall to the North of the pier and protect this neighborhood and supporting infrastructure. It is my understanding that rebuilding that portion of the seawall is included in the Local Coastal Plan that is currently with the Coastal Commission. Further, people I have spoken to who are involved in this process have said that the Coastal Commission is expected to support it. There is no reason to feel we have to fight the Coastal Commission on this. The urgent questions are around design and funding. The design will be in the hands of the engineers. Funding, which will most likely be tens of millions of dollars, will need to come from a federal agency such as the Army Corp of Engineers. Pacifica may still need to come up with a portion, either through a bond measure or some other means. We need the assistance of our local federal representative, Congress Member Jackie Speier. The project is currently in Phase I Preliminary Planning and Feasibility and includes community workshops.
What do you hope to accomplish to change Pacifica?
I hope to add balance to the Council. I want to be sure that all values and views are represented in a fair way. When issues are polarized, it is hard to come to a solution that everyone can be satisfied with. We lose sight of the objective. In some cases, we need clearer definition of the issue we are trying to solve prior to trying to come up with a solution. My goal is to contribute to Pacifica as a city and community we can ALL be proud to be a part of. I am an independent thinker who can come up with solutions.
Why are you running for office?
Community service, I want serve and give back to the community I have loved living in for more than 30 years. I care about senior services and services for people in need. In this COVID pandemic, I support the efforts of Pacifica City Council to keep Pacifica safe. I want to make a positive impact on people’s lives, especially the most vulnerable in our community. I care about preserving the beauty and natural resources of our community. I’m proud of what we’ve done to protect our environment. I am strongly in favor of fiscal responsibility.