Top 10 Buzzworthy Stories of 2012

In the past year, we’ve covered some pretty heavy, at times controversial, stories in Pacifica.

Every year Patch reviews the top 10 stories, some of which are still ongoing, and we will continue to provide coverage on. Here's a look at the stories of 2012 in Pacifica that garnered the most popular attention:

1.  Police Investigating Suspicious Death on Dell Road

When the identity of the young man that was murdered in a Linda Mar neighborhood in October was released, the outpouring of grief in the community was astounding. Keith Coffey, 24, was loved by many and even those who didn't know him were devastated to learn that someone was so savagely murdered with a knife and hammer by another Pacifica resident, Marc Anthony Furlan, in their hometown. Furlan pleaded not guilty on Dec. 14 to the "vicious" murder.

2.  Principal to Drunk Students: The Party's Over

A Terra Nova High School dance was shut down last February after administration officials discovered about 15 students apparently inebriated, with many more possibly under the influence as well. The Pacifica Police Department was called and responded with the North County Fire Authority and ambulances. Parents were also notified, many placing blame on the new principal at the time, Jonathan Ferrer.

3.  Councilmembers Push for Police Outsourcing Document Release

In an apparent rebuke of their city council colleagues, two Pacifica councilmembers called for the public release of the details and analysis of a scrapped proposal to outsource law enforcement services. Their 37-word request came less than a week after the city announced that the proposed police outsourcing plan — which by the city's estimates would have saved the cash-strapped city's taxpayers $1.5 million annually — was no more. City Manager Stephen Rhodes declined to comment when asked whose decision it was to pull the plug on a proposal to farm out law enforcement services to the sheriff's department.

4.  Surf Spot: New Pacifica Restaurant Opens

Renowned Bay Area chef Derek Burns and crew opened the new restaurant that celebrates Northern California and Pacifica culture in June with much fanfare. Six years in the making, Surf Spot was meant to be an attraction not only for tourists and weekender San Franciscans, but locals as well — and it is. The coastside hotspot was featured on The Cooking Channel's "Man, Food & Fire" this fall. The eatery also features an outdoor music venue that seats 250 and an underground oven designed for pig roasts, which was used for cooking a real Kalua pig the weekend The Cooking Channel's film crew was filming.

5.  Group of Males Reported in Linda Mar Area Asking for Money

Linda Mar residents experienced a spree of late night and early morning visits late October from unidentified males knocking on their front doors and asking for gas or drug money. Residents questioned the safety of the town, lack of jobs, and drug use, banding together to form a community watch group, concerned with the uptick in violence and burglary occurring in the Linda Mar area.

6.  Pacifica City Council Election: Ervin, Nihart, O'Neill Win

Pacifica voters on Election Day Nov. 6 cast their ballots in a complicated two-tiered city council race and re-elected a councilwoman and welcomed two newcomers to the five-member council. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, incumbent Mary Ann Nihart and former Pacifica School District Trustee Karen Ervin took the most votes in the race for the two four-year term council seats. Pacifica School Board member Michael O'Neill won the most votes in the race to fill the spot left by Jim Vreeland, who resigned earlier this year for health reasons.

7.  Human Foot Washes Ashore at Rockaway Beach

Police investigated the discovery of a human foot and part of a leg that washed ashore in the Rockaway Beach area, south of Old County Road, in March. Authorities searched the beach for additional remains but none were found. It wasn't until early October that San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault confirmed that the remains were that of a San Bruno man who went missing early March. Joseph McHenry, 27, a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps, was last seen on March 2 when he told relatives he was going rock climbing and camping overnight at a secluded beach near Pacifica. The coroner's office collected the evidence, and DNA obtained from McHenry's mother has since confirmed that the body parts were McHenry's.

8.  Man Stunned with Taser, Arrested After Trying to Leave Scene of Leash Law Violation

The dog walker in Montara who was tasered by a park ranger last January at the Rancho Corral de Tierra property brought up a lot of issues surrounding leash laws and taser use by the National Park Service. Now attorneys for the taser victim say that the U.S. National Parks Service should pay their client $500,000 for causing injuries and violating his rights. Leading up to that, residents voiced their concern with the head honchos at the GGNRA, questioning the training and judgment of the ranger and asking for an apology and to assure the public they won't be "unreasonably tasered."

9. Task Force to Confront Pacifica Fireworks Controversy

In the aftermath of Fourth of July celebrations that left some Pacifica beaches coated in fireworks debris, the Pacifica Beach Coalition said they believed the city should ban beach fireworks and launched a petition drive calling for a ban on all beach fireworks. The group had taken a neutral stance on beach fireworks until photos emerged that according to the group showed that current measures the city takes to keep the beaches clean on the night of the Fourth are woefully inadequate. Now Pacifica's City Council is expected in early 2013 to finalize a task force charged with taking on the issue.

10. New Community Group Opposes Widening Highway 1

While some local residents and officials are excited about the prospect to wide Highway 1 and thereby, hopefully, relieve traffic and congestion, a new group of Pacificans are rising up and protesting the idea. The group is calling itself "Pacificans for Highway 1 Alternatives," or "PH1A." Representatives from the group say they believe widening the highway is not the answer to ongoing problems, and is not an efficient use of taxpayer money.

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