MidPen’s Proposed Development at 1 Sierra (across HWY 1 from Point Montara)
We oppose MidPen’s proposed development for the following reasons:
Inappropriate / Isolated Location
Moss Beach is isolated, located seven miles in either direction from the nearest town centers of Half Moon Bay and Pacifica. The Sierra Club Loma Prieta chapter has come out against the MidPen project stating: “there could hardly be a much worse location for affordable housing in the urbanized Mid-Coast.” This potential development would have a significantly high Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) designation, limited walkability, and inadequate public transportation. Lack of access to groceries, jobs, schools, pharmacies, and community-oriented services will make residents dependent on cars, which is a financial burden on affordable housing residents and increases greenhouse gas pollution. According to San Mateo County’s Green Spaces, Livable Places document, 40% of the Bay Area’s greenhouse gas pollution comes from driving.
The outdated zoning for this parcel was completed in 1986 based on plans for a multi-lane Hwy 1 bypass around Devil’s Slide, and additional infrastructure that never was, nor will be, carried out due to legislation and the purchase of Corral de Tierra by POST. The 11 acre parcel should have been rezoned to reflect the revised situation and population projections, but was not. This development would overwhelm the semi-rural communities of Moss Beach and Montara, its infrastructure, and would increase the population of Moss Beach by almost 10% in one single project. MidPen’s proposed project does not conform to the Development Plan specified in the March 11, 1986 PUD-124 ordinance. We urge that this parcel be rezoned as public parkland, as it has been de facto for decades, and rejoined with the Montara Lighthouse as it was over a century ago and for many decades sharing a rich history, particularly during WWII.
The cumulative effects of MidPen’s development, when combined with other nearby developments such as the approved Big Wave project in Moss Beach (estimated 1500 car trips per day), the potential 31 room hotel in Montara, and the annual infill of new homes and buildings, will dramatically increase traffic, pollution, environmental stress and the breakdown of this coastal community. Unfortunately, studies of traffic and development proposals do not address the cumulative impacts of projects - No assessments are being made of the big picture.
Adding a large-scale development to this community will only compound existing traffic problems for residents and visitors. There are no alternative routes on the coast – we are served exclusively by HWY 1. The mid-coast section of HWY 1 is a critical daily travel corridor, and it is limited to two lanes along the scenic portion of Montara. Since the Lantos tunnel opened in 2013, commuting and weekend traffic has increased dramatically. Nearby Fitzgerald Marine Reserve counted 220,254 visitors in 2015. MidPen has not provided any traffic mitigation solutions for the hundreds of additional cars of this development. Furthermore, “Connect the Coastside” Transportation Management Plan proposes the addition of multiple crosswalks and at least two traffic lights in Moss Beach - without any notable public transportation plan - which will further contribute to traffic woes.
Road Safety - Dangerous Intersection with HWY 1
This property intersects HWY 1 at Carlos Street at a dangerous blind curve, posing significant risk to vehicles entering and leaving the proposed entrance. There is no acceptable alternative ingress / egress since neighborhood roads lack sidewalks and are too narrow for two-way traffic. Regardless, a large portion of cars from MidPen’s development would divert onto these neighboring semi-rural streets, putting children and pedestrians in danger. Additionally, congested roadways impact the effectiveness and speed of first responders to handle emergencies. The Moss Beach Fire Station, located 100 yards from the proposed development site, would be negatively impacted by neighborhood congestion.
Creation of Parallel Roads and Safety Concerns for our Children and Pedestrians
Daily commuters, plus our forecasted 2 million coastside visitors per year, will be directed by their smart phone apps (i.e. Waze) to reroute around Highway 1 traffic through neighborhood roads such as 2nd and 3rd Streets, Sunshine Valley Road and Etheldore Street. These back roads lack sidewalks, so pedestrians and kids who walk and bike to Farallone View Elementary School will have to share these same roads with impatient drivers.
Critical Coastal Area (CCA)
The 11 acre property is located approximately 200 feet from the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, an identified CCA. It deserves special protection due to its close proximity to Montara Creek that runs directly into the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. The scale of the MidPen development would cause substantial disruption and removal of earth, trees and structures with possible toxic hazards. Comprehensive testing must be made throughout the site to check for contamination and toxins such as asbestos, lead, solvents and other chemical compounds that were commonly used at military facilities like these. The site is located on a hill, so any runoff would head directly toward the creek and ocean below.
Environmental Damage / Endangered Species
For decades, residents of the community have enjoyed this 11 acre natural parkland, which the MidPen development would destroy. It is home to a wide range of species of animals, plants, and heritage trees. Residents have reported sightings of the endangered California Red Legged frog and San Francisco Garter Snake.
The property once housed a top-secret World War II training facility, its historical significance just recently becoming known. During World War II, some 320,000 men were trained at this site over a 3-year period, and the entire complex of building foundations are still visible within the property. This development would demolish the remnants of this historic site.
Moss Beach & Montara have the small-town character of a coastal community that the Local Coastal Program (LCP) strives to preserve. New development is required by the LCP to contribute to maintaining this sense of community character by being of compatible scale, size and design. MidPen’s latest proposal indicates only multi-family housing in a separate community and that has little chance of integrating, and no allowances for safe resolution of the resulting traffic and environmental concerns.
There is insufficient parking in the MidPen project as evidenced by comparable MidPen projects on the coast such as Moonridge. Furthermore, MidPen does not take into account parking needs for its proposed community center or for visitors. Parking will spill into the narrow neighboring residential streets. MidPen has suggested that any parking added to this project would be taken away from the 54% designated Open Space, as defined in PUD 124. The issue of insufficient parking further highlights that this project is simply too large.
No Guaranteed Preference for Local Employment
There is no guarantee that this development would serve local needs. MidPen states that local workers not currently living in Pacifica, Montara, Moss Beach, and El Granada will be given preference to rent in this development. We question how this will be guaranteed since MidPen receives government funding. If they are dependent on County funding for this purpose, only a small number of units are likely to allow this preference. Additionally, residents could find employment elsewhere and would not be required to vacate, so this doesn’t necessarily solve a housing shortage on the coast.