PACIFICA — R. Don Peebles, owner of the 87-acre former Rockaway Quarry site, announced that in the wake of Measure L’s apparent defeat, he would comply with current zoning of the land and pursue a commercial development in the coming months.
Semi-official results from Tuesday’s election show Measure L failing 52 percent to 48 percent, a reversal from early poll numbers that had it passing by roughly the same margin.
The measure would have allowed Peebles, a hotel developer in the Miami and Washington, D.C., areas, to build up to 355 residential units as part of a mixed-use “town center,” but opponents campaigned against the measure because of perceived environmental and traffic impacts such a development would have on the city.
In 2002, voters also rejected a proposal from developer Trammel Crow for 315 residential units and mixed-use development, voting 65 percent to 35 percent against the measure. The same three City Council candidates elected in 2002 — Mayor Sue Digre and Council Members Julie Lancelle and Jim Vreeland — were elected again Tuesday.
A 1983 ordinance requires Pacifica voter approval for residential housing at Rockaway Quarry. Peebles held a signature-gathering campaign to put the question on the ballot before he’d submitted a specific plan.
“While we clearly understood the risk and odds of passing this measure before we started, I felt it would have been unfair to the community not to make our best effort to put forth what was best for the community and most rewarding to my company before we went forward with the current zoning,” he said in a statement. The site is now zoned for 2.1 million square feet of commercial space.
Peebles spent at least $1.31 million — roughly $232 per vote — on the campaign, while his opponents, led by former Mayor Peter Loeb, spent less than $8,000, an approximate value of $1.31 per vote.
Loeb said the lack of a specific plan doomed the measure.
“The issue to me is you can’t answer the question about what’s a proper number because the issue is about what’s a proper plan,” Loeb said of the “up to 355” portion of the measure.
Mayor Sue Digre agreed, calling the “up to” phrase in Measure L a “red-flag clause.”
“The wording put too much breadth and not enough specifics,” Digre said. “That leaves too much ambiguity … especially if you’re interested in affordable housing.”
A similar measure in Brisbane, to put 173 residential units and other amenities at the California Rock & Asphalt Quarry in Guadalupe Valley, failed 73 percent to 23 percent.