Green, in fact, alleged in a complaint against the city that Willie Brown had him kicked out of the deal.
The 1996 fallout notwithstanding, Pacifica marks the first time Peebles has actually bought land on the West Coast for development.
And he's using a proven political tactic to win over hearts and minds: fear.
The quarry is still zoned as commercial land, and if Measure L fails, Peebles reminds Pacificans, he could go to the city council with a proposal that strictly includes retail and office space.
In a letter he circulated to the city's residents, he warned that the alternative to a plan that includes housing could just as easily be a Wal-Mart.
"Your 'yes' vote means we will have an opportunity to study and evaluate a better option for our community," Peebles wrote in the letter. "A 'no' vote means we would be forced to file an application for a large scale commercial development such as a big box or a business/industrial complex."
But a plan that exclusively contains commercial space doesn't appear to be what Peebles really wants. Despite the fact that Pacifica is hardly the type of crony-driven city that he's used to, he's shown that he's willing to pay what it takes to get his housing element.
In a six-month period, the political action committee that he formed to push through Measure L spent more than $163,000, according to campaign disclosure forms kept in Pacific's tiny, half-century-old City Hall, which sits close to the ocean amid a neighborhood of clapboard beach houses.
Nearly $90,000 went to a Santa Barbara public relations firm called Davies Communications, whose clients range from schools and major oil producers to Harrah's Entertainment and the Nashville-based privatization pioneer Hospital Corporation of America.
Two user profiles under the names "Jimmy" and "Susan" surfaced on a Google message board where the development has been discussed, and they link back to a Davies mail server in Santa Barbara. Jimmy and Susan claimed to be Pacifica residents in favor of Peebles's plan. (A call to Sara Costin, a Davies project manager who's been present at some of the community meetings, was not returned.)
Peebles spent $10,000 more on the influential Sacramento lobbying firm Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller and Naylor, which specializes in passing ballot measures. Another $70,000 went to professional petition circulators who were needed to get the measure on a ballot.
Peebles isn't the first one to bring big money to the city. Four years ago the publicly traded Texas developer Trammell Crow Company spent $290,000 just on election costs in an attempt to get a mixed-use development with housing past Pacifica voters, according to public records. The company's plan for the quarry included 165,000 square feet of retail space, over 300 apartments and town houses, and a town center. The late 2002 ballot measure still lost by over 65 percent of the vote, despite the fact that the opposing political action committee, Pacificans for Sustainable Development, spent just $6,500.
An Environmental Impact Review released at the time suggested the wrong type of development could threaten the habitat of an endangered garter snake and a red-legged frog, both known to be living in the area. The lush Calara Creek, which runs the length of the property to the ocean, was also perceived to be in danger of pollution runoff without the proper setbacks. And traffic mitigation on Highway 1 has remained a top concern of the city's residents.
Peebles insists he's identified state money that can help with widening the highway and says he'd also donate land for a library and new city center.
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