City of Half Moon Bay on 1/22/08: Ears Wide Open

I attended the community workshop last night hosted by the City of Half Moon Bay’s Council to discuss and listen on the subject of the Beachwood lawsuit.  Very well organized except for the City’s attorney not being present to answer some key questions…not good.  In addition to the City Council, the lead counsel from Orrick, Herrington and Mark Kern from Piper Jaffray spoke.  The purpose of the event was to provide an update and to listen to the public’s questions, comments and concerns.  The key points I came away with:

  • The City reassures the appeal process will have no adverse affect on the City’s day-to-day operations.
  • The claim is against the City government, not individual homeowners, businesses or citizens.  Therefore, no lien or cloud on individual property owner’s title will appear as a result of this judgment.
  • The City expects the resolution to take 18 months to 2 years.  There were two camps in the audience – those that wanted the City to settle as quickly as possible so that we can move on; and those who wanted the City to appeal.
  • Filing a Chapter 9 bankruptcy has not even been discussed as an option at this point.  Currently, there are so many other ideas and thoughts in process that this is not currently a serious consideration.  We were told that it is much more difficult to dissolve a government agency than a business.
  • If the City loses the appeal and a bond measure is proposed, it would require two-thirds voter approval.
  • Half Moon Bay is a general law city not a charter.
  • All the legal documents can be viewed without registration thanks to Darin Boville who produces
  • The City is working on a dedicated website to provide accurate and timely information, documents, etc.  That is in process.

Lastly, my own thoughts…This council did not create the problem but they are our current leadership and must deal with it.  I believe they mean it when they say they value the community’s support and ideas.  Last night showed that they really want to listen to constructive ideas and suggestions and a few were given that they said they would be looking into.  There is a fear that property values will be affected.  There is no indication of this other than the power of negative perception.  People are going to still buy and sell real estate.

I hope the City develops its tools to communicate directly with us via meetings, town forums such as last night, website updates, video recordings, etc.  Things spin out of control when our minds are left to wander to the dark side unchecked, unfiltered…  I expect good things moving forward.  I guess I’m an optimist.  The City is in a position to gain newfound respect by meeting this challenge head on and taking the high road.