Initiative in the works for months

Half Moon Bay Review, Nov. 15, 1995

By Eric Rice

Tuesday's announcement of an initiative drive for a tunnel capped months of behind-the-scenes planning by environmentalists, including a rally Monday night that energized hard-core supporters to hit the streets running.

"Yes, a solution in our lifetime," exhorted former Pacifica Councilman Mike Vasey to cheers from a crowd of nearly 100.

Monday night's meeting at the Pedro Point Firehouse in Pacifica reflected the high degree of sophistication which has been the norm throughout this year's grassroots Devil's Slide campaigns. Far from floundering because of a lack of focus or leadership, cadres of devotees have been organized from top to bottom with one goal in mind _ stopping the Devil's Slide bypass.

The pattern was seen earlier this spring when Coastsiders 4 the Bypass wanted to get its message out. Instead of relying on bypass supporters to follow through on promises to write their legislators and newspapers in favor of their cause, they turned to computer disks complete with pre-formatted letters.

Likewise, Monday night's meeting by tunnel supporters combined high-tech _ a computer-generated video of what it would feel like driving through their proposed tunnel at 40.9 mph _ with the type of upbeat team-building atmosphere more often seen in a corporate goal-setting session than a political dogfight.

"Once people see these photos they become pro-tunnel," Sierra Club spokesman Peter Drekmeier enthused during a preview of a slide show that will be shown around the county in coming months.

Lennie Roberts and Mitch Reid brought supporters up to speed on the history of Devil's Slide since the 1960s and the investigations undertaken since January's road closure to determine whether a tunnel is feasible or not.

Referring to a forthcoming independent tunnel study and the possibility that it could be found not to be a feasible alternative, Reid crowed, "They better give us some pretty damn good reasons why it can't be done because they're going to have to impeach their own documents."

The meeting then shifted to a mock press conference to ensure that three speakers were ready to make the strongest case possible to the media the following day.

Half Moon Bay resident John Lynch, signature coordinator for the initiative campaign, then took the stage to let the all-volunteer group know the county will be broken down into five regions. Each will have a own regional coordinator who will periodically bring the signatures collected in their region to Lynch who will keep a running tally.

A trip to Hawaii, his and her mountain bikes and tunnel T-shirts will be offered to the volunteers collecting the most signatures.

"It's my greatest delight to see this big crowd here tonight," said Olive Mayer, one of the longest combatants against the Devil's Slide bypass, predicting that the initiative would pass "and I'm gonna retire."

"We are working to save the whole damn coast of San Mateo County," she implored.

Half Moon Bay Review