• Opinion: A Tale of Two Cities + Response

    Was I the only one at the Pacific Grove Planning Commission meeting Feb. 2 who thoroughly resented the antics of those who opposed the application of the City to extend the hours at the Pt. Pinos Grill/Pacific Grove Golf Links? I don’t think so.

    Speakers are allowed three minutes during public comment at the beginning, but they are asked not to comment on an agenda item until that item is being heard: At that point they have three minutes again. So did Roger Pasquier think we didn’t know what he was doing when he got up at the beginning, turned his collar around (figuratively, of course), and began to preach to these selfless volunteers on the Commission about their duty as commissioners? I wondered who ordained him. I wondered who made him so high and mighty that he thought he had the duty to tell these people how to do their jobs. And I hoped that they were ignoring him and studying their 900-page packets on the agenda item as he droned on at the microphone, tight-lipped and obviously feeling superior.

    He also gave them a 3-minute earful during the hearing on the agenda item as well, but it went in one of my ears and out the other.

    We’ve heard it all before, Roger. No one was impressed. Those people on the commission knew perfectly well what their duty was when they signed on to serve and give up their Thursday nights, not to mention hours spent studying agenda items and going on site visits.

    During the hearing on the agenda item itself, the petitioner (the City) and the “organized opposition” each had 10 minutes to speak, then to rebut, then to surrebut. City Manager Tom Frutchey as the petitioner gave a very matter-of-fact presentation.

    Then came an attorney for those who don’t want the extended hours at the Grill or anything else that might help it succeed. People who would tear down the clubhouse if they could.

    He put on his best “address-the-jury” persona and proceeded, in so many words, to tell the Commissioners – and the packed gallery – that he was prepared to take this matter all the way to an appeals court. Surely I’m not the only one who read between the lines of what he was saying. He was saying that he and his clients would not only sue, but they would appeal if they lost the suit, and he would spend all the City’s money doing so if that’s what it took. He was saying that, if they didn’t compromise “during the continuance” that he would make it very expensive. No one had said there would be a continuance, but he repeatedly referred to a continuance as if it were a foregone conclusion.

    Oh, he was eloquent. He had the hand gestures. He had the lingo down. And he lost me a minute into his threatening speech.

    It was all I could do to take notes. He wanted, during the continuance, an 8-foot solid fence to be erected from the putting green to Asilomar Blvd. (Yeah, that fits with preserving nature, protecting wildlife and promoting a view corridor. Excuse me. I digress.) He wanted no outdoor music, during the continuance. He wanted no offsite catering (I guess he didn’t work in a restaurant to pay his way through law school and isn’t aware of how inadequate the kitchen at Pt. Pinos Grill is for catering.) During the continuance, he wanted the City to erect “No Right Turn” signs so that patrons leaving the restaurant could only turn left, toward the cemetery and downtown, as they left the restaurant. And would that be a moveable sign so that golf patrons and lunch patrons could turn right but only evening dining patrons would be enjoined from doing so? Maybe they should hire a valet to direct traffic to make left turns or right turns, depending on whether they have crumbs on their faces or golf clubs in the trunk? During the continuance? And he wanted 4-foot bollard lighting and valets with flashlights to escort patrons to their cars at night. (If you can’t beat ’em, make ’em go broke with payroll costs.) (During the continuance.)

    I think it only worked on one commissioner, who repeatedly tried to guide the other commissioners into compromise for the sake of compromise, first on lighting, then on entertainment. I decided not to bring up belly dancing when they were trying to decide what kind of entertainment might need amplification. I was tempted to ask about stand-up comedy, but by then nothing was funny. The meeting dragged on until 10:00.

    Well, he got his continuance. The matter is continued until a Feb. 9 special meeting, when only this item will be discussed and no other Planning Commission business will be undertaken. But it was plain to me that, despite the support of the rest of the entire city, these people will never let it rest, as they have not since the 1930s. It was also plain to me that the planning Commissioners will approve a permit and will send it on the ARB or whoever gets it next.

    Come on, Spring, with your extended daylight hours. Wait till these people hear what’s in store for the Lighthouse.

    – Marge Ann Jameson

    Mr. Paquier’s Response to Cedar Street Times Commentary on PC meeting 2/2/12.

    I first of all want to say that at no time is it my intention to be “high and mighty” or “preach” to the commission and I apologize if my comments came off in that manner.

    As with every citizen that takes to the podium I do so only trying to put my thoughts together in as organized a manner as possible and hope in the nervousness of the moment to put my best foot forward.  The other night my goal was to convey my understanding of just how important planning commission decisions are to the foundation of PG’s future.  The fundamental foundational question in this case.  Should we allow the commercialization of our exceptional Open Space zoned land?  I say no.  In my comments to the commission I tried to convey that it isn’t just enough that “we need the revenue” or that the “concessionaire will go broke” that we break the sacred covenant we made in 1994, through the adoption of a new general plan,  to protect these areas from becoming commercialized sources of revenue.

    To me the standards are very clear: on what is allowed in Open Space areas they are according to the General plan and Municipal zoning Code:

    Recreation areas, wildlife and forest preserves, and waterfront areas.

    That is it!  These are the ONLY opens space land uses. Then it says:

    Parks, playgrounds, public or civic buildings, structures, and parking facilities, to the degree they are pertinent to and compatible with open land uses, are allowed with a use permit.

    So the ONLY WAY a commercial use is allowed is if it is ancillary to one or more of the open space land use designations listed above.  What this means is you can’t start taking a building used for the recreation of Golf and turn it into a night club restaurant, wedding event driven business. It also means that since golf is a dawn to dusk recreation the Clubhouse must also operate under those parameters.  Of course the retort is we already do this after all what about the Sally Griffin Center and the Bathhouse restaurant? Well, both of these are legally non-conforming because there existence pre dates the law that was put in place under the General Plan in 1994.  In other words they are grandfathered in.  The new Clubhouse built in 2004 is not.  Why do you think the current use permit of the Clubhouse was set up the way it was?  It had to conform to the 1994 General Plan.

    The people for expansion of the Use permit have tried to downplay this and demonize those of us opposed to such a wholesale sell out of the Municipal Code and General Plan.  Ms Jameson, your castigation of our wanting to protect the rule of law attempts to trivialize these important matters. It further emboldens the “mob rule” mentality that disdains free and open exchange of ideas and attempts to intimidate people from speaking out less they be ridiculed in the open press. While I abhor this type of yellow journalism, I honor and will stand up for your right to do so.

    Roger Pasquier

    posted to Cedar Street Times on February 3, 2012

    Topics: Front PG News, Marge Ann Jameson, Opinion, Snarkin' With Marge

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