Pacific Grove Mayor Sandra Koffman versus Our Environment, Democracy and the Truth.
(c) Copyright 2000-2002 David Dilworth
““One may smile, and smile, and be a villain. ”
― William Shakespeare,
Mayor Sandy Koffman — from Environmentalist to Eco-FRAUD
Ms. Koffman and her husband Dan moved to Pacific Grove from Los Angeles and immediately started a group called Eco-Corps which mainly planted trees. As soon as Koffman was elected Mayor in 1994 Eco-Corps evaporated; they never met again, and most of their tree seedlings died.
MS. KOFFMAN vs. OUR ENVIRONMENT
The Carmel River Dam
Ms. Koffman advocated for the giant new Dam, voted for it (1995 Mayors Resolution) and to ignore its many serious environmental impacts including its growth inducement.
MAYOR KOFFMAN vs. OUR WATER
Ms. Koffman worked hard to sneak water away from existing residents for more development – even though she knows we are enduring an Official Water Supply Emergency.
- Mayor Koffman led the developers and other cities to persistently abuse Water Transfer “profiteering.” In trying to keep Water Transfers Ms. Koffman’s June 16, 2000 letter to the Water District worried that stopping transfers “would restrict the opportunities of commercial property owners to do business…” She did not write a single word about protecting residents existing water uses.
- She regularly advocates for more water for more unneeded high-income housing development (Mansionization) and business growth in Pacific Grove. She has a perfect record of voting for every water increasing project on a Council agenda.
- She attends Water Board Meetings only to stubbornly demand more water use for developers which takes water away from existing Residents and our Carmel River Imperiled Species – the Steelhead trout and Mark Twain’s Celebrated Red-legged frog.
- Ms. Koffman opposed the Water Hookup Moratorium for new buildings in 1998.
- Ms. Koffman advocated 150 acre foot more water use in 1993 – knowing no physical or legal water existed for increased use – that it would come out of our Rationing reserves.
MS KOFFMAN vs. OUR IMPERILED NATIVE MONTEREY PINE FOREST
- In stark contrast to the false image of an environmental friend which she worked so hard to maintain – as Mayor she fought hard and voted to weaken our tree protection law (April 2002). Within months we experienced the Country Club Center Chainsaw massacre (6 huge healthy native Monterey pines destroyed and a large protest ensued), towering healthy trees were also cut down at the Library Park, the Middle High School, the Sunset Dr. entrance to Pebble Beach, and on August 27 – the Deer birthing habitat (Thicket) at the Cemetery was destroyed to an outpouring of citizen rage.
- As Mayor she has allowed and even voted for increased destruction of our native Monterey Pines by Luckys in the County Club Shopping with Center. After voting for PG Luckys expansion she exclaimed – “I can’t wait to shop at the new Luckys.” This wholly unnecessary shopping center expansion lost us some huge, healthy rare native Monterey Pines.
- As Mayor she led the vote to approve cutting down 68 trees including some huge native Monterey Pines at Forest Hill Manor March 6, 2002. On May12 the Herald wrote an unusually scathing editorial telling the PG Council to send Forest Hill Manor back to the Planning Commission. Her own Planning Commission voted unanimously to request the Council rescind their approval! (May 12, 2002) She ignored all of it.
- The lost biomass (weight of trees) of these threatened native trees exceeded the biomass of all the seedlings (and now dead saplings) Eco-Corps ever planted by at least a thousand fold.
- In a bizarre contrast to Eco-Corp’s mission Ms. Koffman refused to allow planting of native trees at Monarch Sanctuary even after two of her own city committees recommended it.
MAYOR KOFFMAN in Bed with PEBBLE BEACH COMPANY
- Ms. Koffman and her husband are paid monthly by Pebble Beach Company
through a for-profit company they started after she was elected. She now must step down on every issue involving Pebble Beach Company – Measure A, PB Traffic, Monterey pine forests.
- Ms. Koffman supported and defended the Pebble Beach Company’s outrageous, and fiercely protested, month long propaganda promotion at PG City Museum in June 1996. The promotion had eight lectures on how great Pebble Beach Company was doing recycling and Pebble Beach history yet totally ignored the company’s plans to destroy more than a square mile of rare and threatened native Monterey pine forest. Pebble Beach Company hosted several receptions at the City Museum with hundreds of government officials. The Museum Board President and another Museum Board member resigned in disgust.
MAYOR KOFFMAN vs. ANIMALS
- Supports killing Pacific Grove’s Deer by “Thinning them out.”
- Ms. Koffman refused to Lift a Finger to Stop Raccoon Killing by Pacific Grove Police.
MAYOR KOFFMAN vs. FRAGILE TIDEPOOLS
Ms. Koffman has not lifted a finger to substantially protect our depleted and imperiled Tidepools. She has allowed and even voted for increased destruction of our Tidepools by the Aquarium. Only when forced by a citizens legal initiative did she accede to do anything. Even then she would not one hair’s breadth more Tidepool protection than what the petition said.
- As Mayor she refused to stop Aquarium Tidepool Collecting. She finally agreed to put up warning signs – but only if they put Aquarium’s name on the signs.
- Pacific Grove has regular, sometimes almost weekly, sewage spills into our Sea Otter refuge and our National Marine Sanctuary.
- Mayor Koffman has repeatedly refused to consider adopting a Sewage Management Plan – perhaps because it would require environmental impact review and would cost tens of millions to be implemented.
- Because of this failure and the increasing number of sewage spills the US-EPA has taken a special interest in the city’s pattern of federal Clean Water law violations.
- As of March 2003 – the City was served with notice it will be sued for its persistent sewage spills which violate our Federal Clean Water Act.
GROWTH & MANSIONIZATION ADVOCATE
- Ms. Koffman has approved every application to increase water use.
(She did vote against one Water transfer in October 2000, but at the following meeting, (just 53 hours after re-elected – which may be a world record), she reversed her vote on the Eric Miller CTE-Homescapes/Finklang / water transfer / profiteering.
- Ms. Koffman has never opposed or voted against a single house or building increase (except one house on Ocean View where the Planning Commission unanimously expressed extraordinarily strong opposition).
She presided over the Mansionization of Pacific Grove and supported Growth with every vote refusing to lift a finger to stop it or even just slow it down. The trend has been nicknamed Koff-Mansionization.
- Koffman voted to delete definition of a “Story” as in two-story building so that even bigger houses could be built.
ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW, PLANNING COMMISSION, SMOKE
With Koffman as Mayor the city regularly, systematically and flagrantly avoided Environmental Disclosure and Protection Laws, Public Health & Safety laws, Historic Preservation and Shoreline Repair.
AVOIDING ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW OF CITY PROJECTS
Ms. Koffman has a perfect record of ignoring public interest requests for more or better environmental review including:
- Water Transfers & Credits (Increasing Carmel River overpumping)
- Coastal Act Ordinances
- Residential Rezoning
- Forest Hill Manor – 68 trees & 16 acre feet of water
- Burning of George Washington Park (this is not a typographical error).
RANCHO SAN CARLOS DEVELOPMENT
- Ms. Koffman refused to sign petition to just put the 30 square mile (22,000 acre) Carmel Valley Rancho San Carlos Subdivision on the ballot in 1996.
- Mayor Koffman never spent a dime on shoreline repair even though the Shoreline Master Plan has been around for years and the city had a budget surplus.
PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY
- Ms. Koffman voted for Sewer Smoke testing May 3, 2000 refusing any environmental review even though the same testing had killed two pets in Carmel.
- Ms. Koffman twice refused to consider Leaf Blower restriction ordinance prepared by her own Mayor-appointed committee. Nov 5, 1999 and Sept 6, 2000
KOFFMAN vs. DEMOCRACY, OPEN GOVERNMENT and CIVIL RIGHTS
MS. KOFFMAN’S Efforts to Weaken Democracy
- As Mayor she put on the July 15, 2002 Agenda to reduce the number of votes it would take to approve new development (from 4 to 3; a majority of a body to a majority of those present). Her anti-democracy act was supported by Councilman Robert Huitt (“It isn’t fair that every absent commissioner is a vote against development”). Even though unanimously opposed by a parade of people (from all political facets) opposing this she continued to argue for it. Realizing there were too many votes against it including solid opposition from Councilmen Dan Davis, Steve Honegger and even Morrie Fisher, she didn’t even ask for a motion.
- As Mayor she put on the July 3, 2002 Agenda to dissolve the Water District by supporting Monterey’s effort to put an advisory initiative on the ballot. She may have done this in part because the Water District voted to stop all water profiteering credit transfers – which Koffman had been the leader in furthering. Realizing there were too many votes against it including opposition from Councilmen Morrie Fisher, and even her long-time rubber stamps Steve Honegger and Robert Huitt, she didn’t even ask for a motion.
MS. KOFFMAN vs. FREEDOM OF SPEECH
Mayor Koffman has a long record of stifling political criticism at Council meetings. (Nov 25, 1999 Beacon)
- Tried to put public comment at the end of meetings (at 11:00 pm).
A huge crowd showed up to protest.
- At a Council meeting where a Senior-Housing-Committee Member said Councilman Honegger should step down from Senior Housing Committee – Mayor Koffman interrupted and stopped her from speaking further. Ms. Koffman later apologized – but only after getting whacked by a newspaper Editorial some two weeks later.
- Ms. Koffman tried four times to put get City’s advertising pulled from Beacon to prevent it from criticizing her and the Council. She finally succeeded in having the Council vote to stop Beacon Advertising in January 2001.
- She canceled the courtesy of allowing residents to testify on issues late on meeting agenda when they need to attend other events.
- Moved all Consent Agenda items requested for hearing by citizens to the end of the meeting (moved them from 6:30 to roughly 10:30). June 19, 2002
- She fought to prevent a public vote on the Civic Center.
- New City Hall Chambers only allow 58 people to sit. Meetings at the Community Center allowed well over 100 residents.
MS. KOFFMAN vs. ACCOUNTABLE GOVERNMENT:
As Mayor, Koffman –
- Held a private meeting with developers. The meeting was designed specifically to keep residents from attending. (Herald May 23, 2002)
- Prevented video taping of critical sewer meeting taking place just before a Council meeting.
- Prevented video taping of Final Civic Center Approval Aug 21, 2000.
- Refused to put a citizens advisory issue on ballot.
- Voted to sue to take Citizens Initiative off ballot. July 5, 2000
- Refused to allow Council to discuss Museum For-Profit exhibits (Pebble Beach Company and PG&E – June 1996)
- She succeeded in keeping Museum Exhibit “Guidelines” off the Council’s agenda (Jan through Dec 1996)
- Works hard to keep City from answering questions from public.
- After six years, as of April 2002, there were still none of the answers promised from questions asked by the public at the June 1996 Joint Museum Board/Council meeting concerning the Pebble Beach Company Museum Controversy.
- Ms. Koffman refused to participate in 2000 Beacon City Forum on Sewage Problems after initiating concept. Then proposed a City controlled meeting where she would not have to answer questions – just listen.
- She refused to even return calls for two radio interview invitations during her 2000 campaign.
- Refuses to Make or Disclose any Priorities.
- She actually admitted in June 2000 her top priority is to set priorities. Meaning she doesn’t have any – after 6 years in office.
MS. KOFFMAN vs. PUBLIC RECORDS
- With Ms. Koffman as Mayor the City refuses to release the City’s Policy on public records claiming the policy is exempt from disclosure !
- Ms. Koffman persistently manipulates the public records law to prevent rightful public access to records (e.g. Sewer Repair Cost Consultant’s Report, City Budget, Raccoon capture records, Sewer Smoke testing dates and locations).
- City falsely calls every record they don’t want public a “DRAFT.” (To put the City’s secrets policy in context – in Florida EVERYTHING is a publicly available record except the home address of police officers.)
The city has to be sued before they will release some public records.
MS. KOFFMAN vs. FAIR DECISIONS
- Ms. Koffman rehearsed Council Meetings with City Manager Huse and used a script to conduct Council meetings for years.
Hint: Democracy is not scripted.
- Hypocrisy: At our Water Board on Jun 19, 2000 Ms. Koffman’s speech ran One minute and 15 seconds over her 3 minute time limit on Water Transfers. Chair Molly Erickson reluctantly let her finish.
- Yet Ms. Koffman sharply cuts off speakers she disagrees with at her meetings at 3 minutes exactly – even if they are presenting important factual material.
- Worse – on the same agenda item she allowed PG Chamber of Commerce Manager Mo Ammar go several minutes past his 3 minutes when he was merely introducing people – not presenting reasons or evidence.
MS. KOFFMAN vs. CIVIL RIGHTS
The PG City Attorney described Homescapes Disability Access hostility as “flagrant violations.”
- Ms. Koffman crossed American’s with Disability Act (ADA) picket line at Homescapes Oct 1999. (Is it a coincidence that the City received about 4 acre feet of water from Homescapes in 1997 and at least three “free” parties at Homescapes at a potential value of some $1200 per party).
MS. KOFFMAN vs. RESPECTFUL GOVERNMENT
- Ms. Koffman regularly took phone calls during Council meetings – until whacked by a Beacon Editorial.
Ms. Koffman’s Gross “Terminological Inexactitude” (Lying)
- In a June 30, 2002 Herald Commentary Koffman and Councilman Robert Huitt falsely and knowingly claimed the City had adopted a Sewer Repair Management Plan.
Update 2012 – Mayor Koffman vs Responsible Fiscal Policy.
When Koffman took office in 1992 the City of Pacific Grove had carefully built an $8 million dollar Reserve fund for projects and financial downturns. By the time Koffman left office in 2002 – due to the constant raises she voted for staff there was only $200 thousand dollars left. Due to the toxic financial situations she set in place the city has been fighting debts and deficits ever since.
These are just a few highlights (or more accurately lowlights) in the Pacific Grove political career of Sandra L. Koffman-Battaglia originally from Chicago, Ill.
In my opinion, Ms. Koffman’s awful legacy as a government official is the dream of the most harmful developers and polluters you can imagine.
Koffman’s voting record overflows with persistent anti-democracy, anti-public interest and anti-environmental actions – but she always did it with a smile – a forced, fake smile.
If you have any corrections or additions – please let me know.
* I have only received two complaints about this article; both from known Koffman supporters (Craig and Rebecca Ridell), but not even they have been able to describe the faintest dispute with any fact here.