Comments/Questions: San Mateo County Coastal Area Annexation Service Plan/Draft EIR

Date: July 31, 2002

To: Thomas Reed & Associates, Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District CEQA Consultant
From: Oscar Braun, Executive Director Water Quality Protection Program 
Re: Comments/Questions: San Mateo County Coastal Area Annexation Service Plan/Draft EIR

Description of Services to be Extended to the Coastal Annexation Area (Affected Territory)

The District's mission is: ``To acquire and preserve a regional greenbelt of open space land in perpetuity; protect and restore the natural environment; and provide opportunities for ecologically sensitive public enjoyment and education." (adopted by MROSD Board of Directors, March 10,1999)

Description of the Coastal Annexation Area

The approximately 218 square miles that comprise the San Mateo County Coastal Zone are governed by the California Coastal Act and the San Mateo County Local Coastal Program (LCP).

The Urban coastal zone  area is made up of the City of Half Moon Bay, Princeton, El Granada, Moss Beach and Montara and constitutes less than the 7% of the entire coastal zone area. The Coastal Act and the voter approved LCP requires that the maximum amount of development be concentrated within the urban coastal zone corridor.

The Rural Lands coastal area constitutes the remaining 93% of the proposed MROSD Coastal Annexation Area.

  • Over 98% of the Rural Lands communities are undeveloped as of January 2000. 
  • The voter approved 1980 LCP allows a maximum of 33 housing units built per year.
  • Since 1980, County build out records show less than 4 houses per year built to date.
  • The Rural Lands communities are at their lowest level of density sense the year 1850.
  • It will take over 750 years to fulfill the current smart growth 1980 LCP Rural Lands area community build out schedule.
  • The San Mateo County Coastal Rural Lands area is a  living and vibrant Community with over 98% of the Rural Lands  either in agriculture or undeveloped. The Rural Lands communities currently border MROSD's ``Urban Open Space Greenbelt" to the east.
  • The residents/voters of the Rural Lands voted 56% against the MROSD annexation.
  • The CAC Coastal Communities representatives  have agreed  to support MROSD only if the District divest and forfeits it's statutory power of eminent domain for ever in the proposed Coastal Annexation Area. Eminent Domain powers are granted by the State of California to special districts such as MROSD and  can only be nullified or rescinded  by an act of the State Legislature.  The current MROSD Board of Directors does not have the legal authority to prohibit  future MROSD Boards from changing ``policies" regarding eminent domain or everything else. There is in fact no such thing as a ``Permanent Policies" doctrine that MROSD can enforce under State law.
  • The highest priority for development under the Coastal Act and LCP is ``Visitor Service Facilities".
  • The Coastal Act's requires that the County  ``provide maximum access to and along the coastal zone and  maximize recreational opportunities" for all Californians.

Comments and Questions on the Coastal Annexation Area Service Plan

  • Will MROSD forfeit their power of Eminent Domain via the State Legislature?
  • Now that the ``Anti-Coastal Community Coalition" of the Sierra Club, Committee for Green Foothills, Peninsula Open Space Trust and MROSD have shamelessly and successfully ganged up on  the tiny order of Russian Nuns does the District really believe they and their Coalition partners have any credibility remaining with the Rural Lands communities and property owners?
  • Skyline area resident Cheryl Ditachi submitted a $3.5 million bid for the Nun's property  in order to build a family home and pay real estate taxes of approximately $50,000 a year for the privilege. How much property tax will MROSD and POST pay in real estate taxes on ``all" their holdings to support rural coastal community services in the propose annexation area?
  • How much tax for fire, sheriff and emergency services will the District contribute?
  • How much tax for our rural schools, roads ,water and sewer systems will MROSD and POST pay ?
  • Last summer a lightning caused fire burned for two days inside the MROSD's Purisima Redwood Preserve before I reported it to the HMB Fire District and CDF.  MROSD had only two small pick up trucks with four staff personnel  to fight the fire.  MROSD did not know about the fire until CDF notified them and had no water to fight the fire.  Please disclose MROSD current fire fighting assets in detail that the District has to protect their land holdings as of January 2000? Is the District prepared to protect  another 400 hundred square miles of watershed with their current fire fighting resources?
  • MROSD Coalition partner POST recently purchased another $40 plus million of coastal rural lands. Their purchase removes over 50 desperately needed family home sites and eliminates 6 units from a small B&B (aka Visitor Service Facility).  All the properties were compliant with the rural community development elements of the Local Coastal Program.  San Mateo County and the Rural Lands communities have lost annually an additional  $1 million in real estate taxes  for support of vital coastal community infrastructure and visitor services.  Isn't MROSD and POST mission and policies of NO orderly growth and development of essential elements to the social, fiscal and economic well-being of the Rural Lands communities in  direct conflict with the spirit and intent of the San Mateo County Local Coastal Program and the Coastal Act?
  • What happens to agricultural parcels tax paid  under the Williamson Act when MROSD purchases the property?  
  • Will the District assume full responsibility and liability in nuisance for any pollutants emanating from leaking oil strip wells and the unlicensed illegal landfills currently located on Peninsula Open Space Trust coastal lands holdings that are discharging pollutants into steel head streams and sensitive endangered species habitat?
  • What dollar amount is the MROSD prepared to spend on the clean up and rehabilitation of their polluted lands and their partner POST open space properties?
  • Will the District comply with State Water Resources Control Board Water Quality Order No. 97-03 and apply for a NPDES Category 5 Discharger permit for  the  unlicensed landfills on POST lands?
  • Will the propose Coastal Annex Area have their own Rural Lands community elected  Director on the MROSD Board of Directors?  Or will the annexed area be absorbed into the current Districts wards?
  • Will the Coastal Annex Area residents vote on a new parcel tax separately?  Or will the  3,500 Coastal Rural Lands resident voters  be added to the entire 650,000 Urban District taxpayers?
  • Will all MROSD residents taxpayers  have the same parcel tax rate? What percentage of the coastal tax revenues will be spent within the coastal zone? Does Proposition 13 apply to the MROSD tax rate?
  • How much revenue will MROSD contribute to the coastal County Park and Recreation Dept.? How much for coastal State Parks?  Coastal Urban parks and trails?
  • How will MROSD promote a policy of orderly ``Growth" and ``Development" as essential elements to the social, fiscal, and economic well-being of the proposed Coastal Rural Lands Communities?
  • How does MROSD promote in-fill and smart growth within their Urban boundaries to prevent sprawl into the surrounding rural agricultural areas ?
  • How does MROSD and POST buying up  existing family residentially zoned parcels in the rural coastal zone support the rural coastal communities and farm families need for  housing stocks?  Doesn't the price of rural homes go up as the supply is reduced?  How does the community at large benefit from higher home prices?  How does this benefit our farm labor families, teachers, police and firemen?
  • How does MROSD narrow mission focus of ``OPEN SPACE" comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) mandated principle of   ``ecological balance" and requiring at least one `` reasonable and feasible alternatives " to all proposed development?

Thank you for inviting and offering our Foundation the opportunity to collaborate, comment and asked questions about MROSD proposed annexation of the San Mateo County Coastal Zone. We would appreciate a written response to our comments and questions.

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