The Dunes Project to Urbanize Beachfront
Hotel, Conference Center & RV Park - 47 acres
Proposal in Process
"The Dunes at Half Moon Bay" is a serious threat to our safety, environment, and quality of the coastal experience. Road safety and clean water are at stake for both residents and visitors alike without proper infrastructure. It will erase the area’s natural coastal habitat in favor of a commercial bonanza. Coastal residents will foot the bill as water, sewer and service costs rise.
The Dunes was unveiled in April 2018, proposing a 200+ room hotel, 170+ space RV park, 15,000 sf conference center/spa and campgrounds. This project in particular highlights the building assault happening on the coast. The proposal covers 47 acres of mostly undeveloped, oceanfront land, comprised of prime agricultural soils, and the only beach area in the City of Half Moon Bay other than Surfer’s Beach with scenic ocean views from Highway 1. Opposition to this out-of-scale project is strong, with the realization that this habitat could be lost forever. Click here to see the Dunes marketing website
Resist Density supports the positions of the Committee for Green Foothills and the Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter, and their assessment and early comments on this “Preliminary Application.” Their joint letter of April 23 clearly outlines discrepancies of the application versus Half Moon Bay’s Local Coastal Program (LCP). Read Committee for Green Foothills and Sierra Club's joint letter.
Resist Density is also concerned that safety considerations regarding Highway 1 as the only road in, through, and out are ignored from a cumulative perspective. In the event of a major traffic accident or worse - a fire storm or an earthquake - there is no emergency access or exit for the coastside. The nearest hospitals with trauma centers are Stanford and UCSF, both more than 20 miles away.
Status and Next Steps
A "pre-application," along with a Biological Resources Assessment, have been submitted to the City of Half Moon Bay. A formal permit application with full project details is expected summer of 2018. The Half Moon Bay City Council will then select an environmental consulting firm to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) at the developer's expense. The City will ultimately determine which alternatives are studied in the EIR pending community and Planning Commission input. Let your voice be heard - see our "Take Action" box!
Coastal Sewage System Crisis
The inadequacy of the coastal sewer system is at a crisis stage. Discharges of raw or partially treated sewage into Half Moon Bay have been documented. Adjacent Venice Beach and Pillar Point Beach are on the State of California’s 2014 and 2016 list of impaired water bodies for indicator Bacteria. Resist Density’s recently published study of Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) documents a total of 101 SSOs from 2011 to 2017, 20 of which reached ocean water in violation of the Clean Water Act. The San Francisco Water Quality Control Board is evaluating the level of penalties it will impose pending actions taken by the Sewer Authority Mid-Coastside (SAM) to remedy the situation. Major capital improvements are required and must be funded by coastal residents. New development proposals need to be critically reviewed with respect to their impact on our outdated and overburdened system infrastructure.
Major Impact on Traffic & Road Safety
The San Mateo County coast is unique in that we have only one road in, through and out, with no alternative routes. Decades ago, voters county-wide chose to preserve the coast by voting against efforts to build more freeway access in favor of a tunnel through Montara Mountain. In addition, thanks to the efforts of POST and the advocacy of local organizations and community members, hundreds of acres of coastal land have been preserved as open space. These factors strictly limit the size and types of building developments that make sense for our small coastside communities.
With Highway 1 as the ONLY road that offers access and exit and the ever-increasing influx of tourists and visitors, there is a real danger with further escalation of density through the Montara to Half Moon Bay corridor. The cumulative effects of large developments in this area are not being adequately addressed in light of its fixed infrastructure. This danger is further compounded by the looming probability of rising seas, fire risks, and earthquakes. Creating a destination for more RV and tourist traffic is simply not sensible or responsible.
A proposed 170-unit RV Park threatens this coastal land north of Young Ave off HWY 1 (Google street view)
The open space property south of Young Ave is threatened by a proposed Hotel and 15,000 sf conference center / spa (Google street view)
The Dunes Hotel & RV Park - more info
Coastal resources protected by the Coastal Act must be addressed. Not only is the project area comprised of prime agricultural soils, its historically significant wetlands have been greatly diminished over time. Half Moon Bay provides habitat to many species including the federally protected snowy plover. We strongly urge the protection of environmentally-sensitive habitat areas and that restoration of the wetlands take priority over any new development along this coastline.
Razing of Natural Coastal Beauty
The vision for "The Dunes at Half Moon Bay" displays a blatant commercialization of scenic coastal land that graces Half Moon Bay with natural beauty. The 21 acres north of Young Avenue are currently in use for open field agriculture. It would be transformed into a 170 space RV Park. The 26 acres to the south are open space with some equestrian and visitor serving uses. This area is slated for a 200 room hotel and 15,000 sf conference center with parking facilities, artificial fire pits, etc. This level of density pretends to offer more beach accessibility yet it destroys what makes the coastal experience special.
In regards to development alternatives for Surf Beach/Dunes Beach, the LCP states that large-scale visitor serving facilities are not needed. Because the LCP requires that the whole 50 acres have a "Specific Plan," the developers have swept in parcels that may have dissenting owners such as the Coastal Land Trust (17 parcels) and some by private entities (9 parcels), and the City of Half Moon Bay, which owns one parcel. The proposal also falls short by almost 3 acres of the 50. Fortunately, beyond Half Moon Bay approvals, a "Specific Plan" must be evaluated by the Coastal Commission and certified versus the LCP.
Cumulative impact of large-scale projects
This project will add to a growing list of large projects on the coast in various phases of the approval process. Yet, there is a lack of any meaningful study which takes into account all of these projects and their impacts on traffic, road safety, sewer, water, and the environment. Who is looking at the big picture?
Take Action! Send your Comments
There’s no better time to get involved. The more that people get involved, the better the chance that important decisions reflect our shared values.
Half Moon Bay Community Development Director, Jill Ekas: firstname.lastname@example.org
Half Moon Bay City Council:
Phone: 650-726-8250 (leave message with Clerk's office)
- Harvey Rarback, Council Member: HRarback@hmbcity.com
- Adam Eisen, Mayor: AEisen@hmbcity.com
- Deborah Penrose, Council Member: DPenrose@hmbcity.com
- Debbie Ruddock, Council Member: DRuddock@hmbcity.com
- Robert Brownstone, Vice Mayor: RBrownstone@hmbcity.com
CA Coastal Commission Coastal Program Analyst, Patrick Foster: email@example.com