This story appered in the print edition of the Half Moon Bay Review on Wednesday August 8, 2012

The California Coastal Commission is slated to hear an appeal today of the controversial Big Wave complex. Coastal Commission staff recommends the commission deny the project on a variety of grounds.

The development mixes housing for the developmentally disabled with an office park that proponents say is necessary to sustain the venture. They say it is a perfect marriage to fill housing and working needs of some of the Coastside’s most vulnerable residents.

But Big Wave opponents filed an appeal after San Mateo County’s approval pushed the project forward. County supervisors unanimously approved the project in 2011.

The proposed development site occupies 20 acres between Pillar Point Marsh and the Half Moon Bay Airport. If successful, the project will subdivide two large lots into 13 lots to accommodate the proposed facilities.

Appellants were concerned that the plan failed to adequately deal with water supply, sewage disposal and potential tsunami and earthquake fault hazards. The project could additionally disrupt sensitive biological areas and scenic coastal views, according to the staff report.

“I think (the report) was sloppy, ill-informed and frankly an embarrassment to our government,” said project founder Jeff Peck. “I can’t deal with individual points. It’s just globally bizarre.”

Peck said he started the project more than a decade ago so that developmentally disabled people, such as his now 24-year-old daughter, would have a place to thrive in adulthood.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, just 20 percent of disabled people — a category that includes the developmentally disabled — participated in the labor force in July.

The Big Wave project would give developmentally disabled people a better shot at living a full life, including meaningful work, said Peck.

Many people believe that it is a great project, but in the wrong location, said Montara resident Paul Perkovic, former president of the Montara Water and Sanitary District.

Lisa Ketcham, the president of Pillar Ridge Homeowners Association and a member of the Midcoast Community Council, said that she supports housing developmentally disabled individuals in her community, which includes a designated affordable housing site. But she does not favor Big Wave

“We would welcome the disabled or caregivers to form group homes in our community,” Ketcham wrote in an email.

Peck said getting another location is not financially feasible, and that the proposed location is the only place where there can be an adjacent business park and wellness center.

The meeting begins at 9 a.m. today at 701 Ocean St., the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors chambers. The appeal hearing has been requested to take place as the first item after lunch.

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