Some Pacifica residents scoff at development of pricey homes 

click to enlarge Developer Sonora Shores is building a 54-acre development project in Pacifica with homes prices at $4.3 million and more, which has drawn the ire of some neighbors. - COURTESY OF SONORA SHORES
  • Courtesy of Sonora Shores
  • Developer Sonora Shores is building a 54-acre development project in Pacifica with homes prices at $4.3 million and more, which has drawn the ire of some neighbors.

An emerging development promising homes priced at $4.3 million and up is creating a stir for some in Pacifica, where many residents have historically opposed developers and celebrated the community's working-class roots.

Located in the Linda Mar neighborhood at Fassler Avenue and Roberts Road, the 54-acre project will contain a private road and 10 homes featuring Frank Lloyd Wright-style architecture, with flat roofs and large expanses of glass. Each home will have at least 4,300 square feet of living space and boast a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.

Named "Harmony At One" by developer Sonora Shores, the city-approved project has been met with skepticism from some residents, whose concerns include the possibility of increased traffic, the loss of open space and what they see as the ongoing erosion of the city's old-fashioned, small-town way of life.

"The open spaces are shrinking. Our roads really can't support all the traffic. Pacifica doesn't feel like a close-knit community anymore," resident Nona Kanael said.

Kanael's sentiment was echoed by Pacifica native Chris Oeffinger, who described the planned homes as "ugly monstrosities" that will blemish the community landscape. "They represent more traffic, more waste, more loss of nature," Oeffinger said, adding, "This development is a foot in the door for more of this."

The fear that developers might gain a foothold in Pacifica and carve up its scenic hills is frequently voiced by the town's anti-growth activists. Members of the "Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives" organization say that concern is one reason they're suing to prevent Caltrans from widening a stretch of Highway 1 in the city, a move they claim could open up the entire coastside to developers.

But officials note that certain legal barriers in place in Pacifica would prevent any overdevelopment from occurring along the coast. According to Mayor Mary Ann Nihart, more than half the town's land is permanently designated as open space that can never be built upon, and the site of the Harmony At One development is one of the last two ridgelines that can legally be developed, with the other one located nearby on the north side of Fassler Avenue.

Nihart added that although the development was approved by the City Council long before she was elected, she supports the housing project, partly because local environmentalists had input during its planning phases and signed off on the final design.

Realtor Neal Schwartz, representing Sonora Shores, noted that more than half of the 54-acre property will be conserved as open space. The project will additionally feature a walking trail, open to the public, but paid for and maintained by the future homeowners, Schwartz said.

The new homeowners will also make significant contributions to cash-strapped Pacifica's coffers, because the annual property tax on a $5 million home will be about $65,000, Schwartz noted. Addressing the notion that multimillion dollar homes aren't a good match for the area, Schwartz said, "There are millionaires in Pacifica, but they're just low-key."

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