September 15, 1999

Shouldn't we vote on this?

The phone company and Laguna Salada School District recognized years ago that Skyline Boulevard is a natural divide. On the other hand, the city of San Bruno chose to ignore this natural boundary when it annexed Pacific Heights and Portola Highlands.

This resulted in a situation where (if you don't get run over by trucks and cars coming from all directions) you could stand in the middle of Sharp Park Road and Skyline and throw rocks into three cities. Before the new Sky Ridge development, the Oil Changers was a lonely outpost (presumably) paying its taxes to Pacifica, across from apartments in San Bruno and an odd bare corner of South San Francisco. In the rapidly receding past there used to be a Safeway, a Thrifty Drug, the Fox Skyline movie theatre and a Shell station on the southwest corner. I vividly remember the wind and fog swirling past an unlucky carnival which had set up shop in that center. It was hard to see the ferris wheel, and impossible to enjoy riding it. Only a few kids tried.

On Nov. 2, perhaps while the fog swirls on Skyline, a few lonely Pacificans will vote for three out of seven candidates running for the governing board of the College District, and a college bond issue. Meanwhile, the folks in the four precincts located in Pacific Heights/Portola Highlands will be voting on something they've wanted for a long time. While they help choose a San Bruno mayor and a couple of council members, they'll also switch their school allegiances from Laguna Salada and Jefferson High to San Bruno Park and San Mateo Union High School Districts. Some San Bruno kids will finally be going to schools in the San Bruno District.

So, Reactor, you got a problem with that? Yes, as a matter of fact I do. I think it's going to hurt the kids that are important to me, the ones who live in Pacifica.

What bothers me is, only the voters most likely to vote Yes are being allowed to vote at all in this election. All Pacifica precincts but one are also in the Laguna Salada District, and they form the largest part of Laguna Salada, yet no Pacifican except Betsy Massie has a chance to express his or her official opinion on the subject.

If Pacificans WERE permitted to express their opinion, they would probably vote NO, overwhelmingly, on the transfer. It's even possible if those San Brunans on the east side of Skyline voted on it, they too would reject the transfer.

I've no doubt it's quite legal to avoid getting my opinion on the subject, or that of my fellow Pacificans. But quite frankly, I think it should have gone to a vote among those of us who might disapprove, rather than just among the only four precincts where it may easily get a 90 percent approval. We in Pacifica are being treated rather shabbily, and I don't like it one bit. We should have been allowed our say before a big chunk of both our school districts is ripped away.

All four of the Reactor's children spent their elementary years in Laguna Salada schools, which in turn have had to struggle to deal with rapidly expanding enrollment, then rapidly declining enrollment, and always with a minuscule tax base. District leaders and teachers have coped well with the small resources they have been permitted to use. Your opinion is welcome via E mail to

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