Committee for Green Foothills (CGF) has filed suit in San Mateo Superior Court against San Mateo County in an effort to prevent the controversial Big Wave Project from moving forward. Big Wave proposes to build 225,000 square feet of office and commercial space, plus housing for 50 developmentally disabled adults and 20 caregivers in a Tsunami Hazard Area next to the environmentally sensitive Pillar Point Marsh in Moss Beach.
“The Board of Supervisors ignored basic common sense in granting approval for this project,” says Lennie Roberts, CGF legislative advocate. “This project threatens our waterways and puts dozens of our most vulnerable residents at risk. Turning a blind eye to the many real dangers associated with the Big Wave Project will not make them go away.”
Big Wave is the largest development San Mateo County has ever approved on the coast. It would nearly double office and commercial space between Pacifica and Santa Cruz. The 46-foot-high office park buildings would loom over single-story homes, farmed fields, and preserved open space.
“California’s strict environmental review laws are in place for a reason,” says attorney Winter King of the law firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, which represents CGF in the lawsuit. “The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors overstepped its bounds when it approved this project despite gaping holes in the environmental impact report. How will the project dispose of its sewage? What will the residential facility actually look like? These fundamental questions were never answered.”
The project is within the mapped Tsunami Hazard Area, which was evacuated in the wake of the Japanese earthquake on March 11. The Board of Supervisors approved the project on March 29. The proposed building site is next to an active earthquake fault, and is on sandy soils that are highly susceptible to violent shaking, liquefaction, and other earthquake hazards. San Mateo County is potentially vulnerable to a large tsunami event that could be spawned by a major underwater earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which stretches from Cape Mendocino to Vancouver Island.
“As the parent of a developmentally disabled daughter, I fully sympathize with the need for expanded housing for developmentally disabled adults in the county, but this is clearly not a suitable location,” says Lennie Roberts. “Placing these individuals in mortal danger is not a reasonable solution to the County’s housing challenges.”
The environmentally sensitive Pillar Point Marsh, home to a wide diversity of species, including the California red-legged frog, could also be affected by the project. The project’s stormwater drainage and wastewater disposal systems are inadequate. Pollution from stormwater runoff and possible sewage overflows would severely impact the marsh.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the state Division of Aeronautics, and the San Mateo County Department of Public Works also have objected to the project. The county is at risk of losing federal funding for airport improvements due to fundamental incompatibility of the proposed housing in such close proximity to the airport.
Approval of Big Wave has already been appealed to the California Coastal Commission by CGF in partnership with the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club, San Mateo Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Pillar Ridge Homeowners Association, and San Mateo County League for Coastside Protection. Two additional appeals also were filed with the commission by the Granada Sanitary District and by the commission itself. The commission has the authority to amend the approved project or prevent it from moving forward.
GREEN FOOTHILLS The Committee for Green Foothills (CGF) has been working to prevent unwise or poorly located development throughout the Peninsula since 1962, when it was founded by a handful of citizens and activists to save Peninsula foothills from sprawling development. The organization’s mission is to protect and preserve the hills, forests, creeks, wetlands, and coastal lands of the Peninsula through grassroots education, planning, and legislative advocacy. CGF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
SMW LAW Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP (SMW) specializes in government, land use, natural resource, and environmental law. Since 1980, the firm has provided representation to public agencies and community groups throughout California. Known for its commitment to promoting environmental and community values, SMW is at the forefront of major land use and development issues facing California today.
Mitch Reid comments, "At the March 31, 2010 joint study session on the old plant, Mayor Sue Digre requested that an aquarium component be considered for the new evaluation, and several planning commisioners agreed with the request. There is no consideration of this opportunity in the new 40-page evaluation. I wonder why this request was not included or mentioned in the evaluation."
It's official. And we feel vindicated. Last week we posted an email (see RIPTIDE SCOOP below) from the developer, and indicated that our confidential sources believed this deal was going down. We tried to get confirmation from the city, to no avail, and others pooh-poohed the whole notion of a deal, but we hung in there and left our post up. Now we get to say, "We told you so." Thanks to Camden Swita of Pacifica Patch for reporting this major Pacifica news story today, and for mentioning our role in breaking the story last week.
Last week we posted unconfirmed reports that a developer was interested in Rockaway Quarry. We inquired about this to City Manager Steve Rhodes. He said he was unaware of it and would look into it further. We heard nothing more. So we stuck by our guns and left our post up. Then on March 11 we posted an email (below) sent to a local contact, confirming that Barry Swenson Builder of San Jose has an eye on the quarry.
Date: Friday, March 11, 2011, 2:42 PM It is the 88 acre site. I would love to schedule a sit down with you. I will be back after the 21st. Christy, Jessie and I will all be leading this project and we cant wait to get your full perspective. Are you available on the afternoon of the 21st? Thanks, Jessie Jessie O'Malley Senior Development Manager - BARRY SWENSON BUILDER 777 N. 1st Street, 5th Floor, San Jose, CA 95112 www.BarrySwensonBuilder.com
New information has been posted about Community Forum 3. The Presentation and Alternatives Worksheet are now available online. If you did not provide comments, you can download the worksheet and mail or email it to: Elizabeth Claycomb, 170 Santa Maria Avenue, Pacifica, CA 94044, firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on the General Plan Update Project, contact Elizabeth Claycomb, Management Analyst/Project Manager, Planning and Economic Development Department: 650-738-7341 (department), 650-738-7361 (direct), 650-359-5807 (fax), email@example.com (email)
After 24 years as president, CEO, and executive director of Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), Audrey C. Rust announced January 25 that she will retire on July 1, 2011. The POST Board of Directors named Walter T. Moore, currently executive vice president, to succeed her. POST is one of the most significant organizations affecting the course of development on the coast.
The San Mateo County Planning Commission approved the Big Wave development at a meeting today in a 3-2 vote. After considering the revised traffic report, the commission approved not only the Big Wave Environmental Impact Report but a Coastal Development Permit, 20-year development agreement, and other provisions required to approve the project. The project is appealable to the Board of Supervisors and the Coastal Commission.
Our source looked at the website listed on the Rockaway Quarry real estate signs (pacifica-oceanfront.com), and the site says "Project Not Active. Thank you for your interest in Pacifica—Rockaway Quarry. Unfortunately, this project is no longer available." Recently, our source noticed that the brochure had changed to include an offering price of $10.9 million, with offers due in late September. "So maybe there's been a sale," our source muses.
San Mateo County has released the report on the third phase of its midcoast groundwater study. Coastsider will release an analysis of the report in the near future. You can read the conclusions and recommendations after the jump. Or you can download the report from Coastsider and draw your own conclusions. The Phase II report released last year raised the alarm of risk of saltwater intrusion due to overpumping in some areas of the midcoast.
The Economic Development Committee (EDC) was to present a resolution to develop Rockaway Quarry on June 8. Below, see two relevant documents: minutes of EDC's May 11 meeting and EDC's quarry resolution. Unfortunately, only five committee members showed up (it was election night), so there was no quorum and no meeting. Present were City Manager Steve Rhodes, Chamber of Commerce CEO Courtney Conlon, and three other members. Erin Tormey of Farmer's Market fame returned home without making her scheduled presentation. The next meeting of this committee is July 13, when the same docket will be considered.
Resolution of the Pacifica Economic Development Committee
urging Pacifica’s Redevelopment Agency to engage the new property owner, Ambit
Funding and any partners working
with Ambit, in preliminary discussions about forming a public-private
partnership to pursue required land use entitlements for the quarry property:
Pacifica’s sole Redevelopment District was formed in 1982 and covers the area
generally described as Rockaway Beach (“The Rockaway Beach Redevelopment
District” or the “RBRD”), including the vacant 90 acre Quarry Property
almost 30 year history of the RBRD, numerous third parties (unaffiliated with
the City or its Redevelopment Agency) have attempted development of said
Property without success.The lack
of success in developing said Property has comprised [sic] the economic
sustainability of the City of Pacifica; and
Pacifica is a community without an established downtown area.Downtown areas’ historically provide
both residents and businesses a mix of residential and commercial uses which
enhance community identity, pride and character and if properly planned, can
stimulate economic sustainability for both existing and future generations.Numerous other coastal cities, such as
Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Carmel, have established downtown areas
which serve as economic drivers for their respective city; and
City of Pacifica recently established an Economic Development Committee
(“EDC”).A portion of the EDC’s
adopted workplan is to identify and entitle an area that can serve
strategically as Pacifica’s downtown area; and
after much discussion and debate, the EDC has identified the Property as the
optimum location for Pacifica’s future downtown area.Not only is the Property located in the geographic center of
Pacifica, the Property’s combination of: (a) its visual identity and access to
Highway #1; (b) its scale and adjacency to existing development; and (c) its
location within the boundaries of the RBRD, combine to position it as the
optimal location for Pacifica’s downtown; and
numerous environmental, land use, political and other constraints exist which
restrict the Property’s potential to serve as Pacifica’s downtown area.The EDC believes that the City (through
the RBRD) is the most appropriate legal entity to plan and entitle said
Property.Doing so will
undoubtedly require collaboration with a host of governmental, resource and other
agencies as well as the local community.
Now Therefore be it
resolved that the Economic Development Committee urges the City, through its
Redevelopment Agency, to engage the Property’s Owner in a public – private
partnership that creates the needed framework for the City to properly plan and
implement a development plan that will serve as Pacifica’s downtown for both
current and future generations.
You may receive a "Notice of Extension Request For Coastal Development Permit" for Pacifica Beach LLC, which is applying for an extension to its CDP A-2-PAC-07-022-E1 for developing a nine-unit, three-story condominium project with 10,575 square feet of underground parking at 1567 Beach Blvd. This notice (see above) arrives by mail from the California Coastal Commission (CCC) as it did for some Pacificans on April 5. As the lone NO vote for this project when it was in front of the Pacifica Planning Commission, my concerns were about the building's mass and the safety of possible residents due to the unpredictability of the Pacific Ocean. Those concerns are only heightened now after the extraordinary events we all witnessed this winter on Esplanade. The notice that came in my mail says that if no one raises any concerns, the project will be granted an extension without board review. But if concerns are raised, the project may be returned to the commission board to reexamine and possibly deny the extension. If you have a comment or concern about this project's CDP extension, the notice in your mail contains contact information for the appropriate CCC staff member..