The Citizens Environmental Impact Report
David Schooley, Original CSSBM
Before I went to Tom Adams, the San Mateo County Supervisors were asking, “Who is the power up here?” And they were so amazed because they had never before heard people from Daly City, South City or Brisbane making noise about anything. The supervisors thought, “Who cares about those people up there. They’re the poor people. The dregs of San Francisco. They’re nothin real. We—down here in Redwood City and Palo Alto are the elite—We are the powers. Brisbane, Daly City and South San Francisco are negative. They’re the dirty, oakey people.”
Daly City was growing. It’s their favorite thing to do. There were plans for freeways and highrises and all that kinda stuff. Then the San Mateo Supervisors had these sets of meetings in Daly City to find out who the power was in the North Peninsula. The uproar had begun about saving the mountain and the question was sent out, “What’s gonna happen on San Bruno Mountain?” And so we brought all our people to the meetings. And this went for, I think, three evenings and every single evening the meeting was crowded up with all these people who wanted to save the mountain. There was only a puny bunch of idiots from the building trades, campared to the crowd we had, but there were a lot of them too. It was so clear, we were the majority.
We were desperate.We were getting knocked around and looked down on. The supervisors thought we had no value. They were the power and they could just push us out of the way.
The councilmembers in South City and Brisbane didn’t care about us. Daly City obviously didn’t care. So how were we gonna make a real dent on what they’re planning to do? And what really hit me was when I saw their Environmental Impact Reports (EIR). The written material, their studies, they didn’t even make sense. It was very clear they weren’t even looking at the mountain. They didn’t know about the shellmounds, they didn’t know about the critical canyons that I knew were native areas. It was clear that Visitacion Associate’s EIR was not real.
They had no understanding of the mountain whatsoever and so that’s when I decided to find out if there would be a lawyer—a legal fight that could question that. And all of us were poor. I was poor, I was working, I had a couple jobs here and there. I’d quit AAA and so I was building stuff, just doing whatever job I could. This was before my accident.
The Legal Aid Society was right there on Mission Street in Daly City and I thought I would ask whether or not questioning the EIR legally, would help. And could they help a desperate group that has done all these efforts for all these meetings and all these hikes on the mountain and were still getting kicked around by the politicians. I told them, “They’re not listening to us, they’re just pushing us over.”
At that time, Tom Adams was a lawyer at the Legal Aid Society and I talked to him one afternoon. He asked me to send him more material. And then he sent me a letter saying that he would like to help the best he could and the Legal Aid Society would like to help, for what the future of our children and friends will be in South San Francisco and Daly City. It was a nice letter. Tom and I had a second meeting and he wanted full information and we gave him everything. We began to discuss my questions about the EIR. The written material was visibly wrong.
And that was my main idea with Tom Adams that we do an EIR ourselves. A people’s EIR that would show that the developer’s EIR was not right. But I knew we had to have a lawyer, otherwise we would continue to have no impact on the politicians.
So we all got together at my place on 15 Kearny Street in South City and we went step by step through their EIR and told more than they had anywhere in their material. We knew about the mountain. We knew more than they knew. And if Visitacion Associates was just gonna go ahead and build highrises they better know what the hell they’re doin. Those developers are supposed to know more than we do. It was obvious they had not done a careful EIR.
The Citizens EIR went to the county and the county had to respond because it was by a lawyer and all of us. It makes a big difference with a lawyer. And that made a major change. And our interest in the mountain wasn’t just comin from a desire for power, we cared. So therefore the supervisors had to think twice about what they were gonna do for a park on San Bruno Mountain. And that opened the door for the possibilities of saving the Saddle Area.
The State of California came in to help save the Saddle Area. The young Governer Jerry Brown came over to see San Bruno Mountain and he came to meeting in South City. And then there were a number of meetings on San Bruno Mountain with people from Gregorio. Mr. Gregorio he was a California State Representative who came from San Mateo County. He actually came to some of the meetings and that was real important too. And our group, our powerful group, in those days, was really impressive. We had all these hikes and hundreds of people goin up on the mountain. It was everybody. It was a big thing up and down the Peninsula, in San Francisco, the whole thing. This was the people. It went beyond local politics and brought up the effort to save the Saddle. We pushed and pulled. The State moved in around 1976 and that’s when the Saddle was purchased by the State under the State Bond Act.