The future of the Big Wave office park and housing complex for the developmentally disabled is in doubt today after the California Coastal Commission sided with appellants who raised nearly a dozen issues with the proposal.
After five hours of testimony on Wednesday, the Coastal Commission was swayed by concerns over how to provide water and wastewater treatment, environmental worries, the potential for traffic and a host of other problems. Commissioners found the project out of compliance with San Mateo County’s land-use plan, overruling an earlier approval by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.
Coastal Commissioner Steve Blank told developers that any support for the housing component was undermined by the shear size of the business park.
“It’s not the wellness center we’re denying,” he said. “The developer decided to tie these projects together.”
“We’re being asked to overlook our basic values to do something good,” added Commissioner Jana Zimmer.
Wednesday’s action was taken in the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors chambers, which was crowded with Coastsiders on each side of an issue that has created a rift among neighbors. Dozens of people spoke both for and against the project.
The Committee for Green Foothills, the Loma Prieta chapter of the Sierra Club and others appealed the county’s decision. The Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau and many individuals were on hand to support the project.
Big Wave has been in the planning pipeline for years. It was to include 225,000-square-feet of office space and housing for about 50 developmentally disabled adults in separate buildings. The office space would be a for-profit “economic engine” for the non-profit housing, according to Big Wave founder, Jeff Peck.
Proponents of Big Wave argued that most of the complaints with the project were without merit and that they were willing to work with the Coastal Commission to address whatever might remain.
Other supporters complained bitterly that opponents were putting animals and environment over the needs of vulnerable members of the community. Several Coastsiders with developmental disabilities spoke at the meeting.
“We’ve built a Ritz-Carlton, The Beach House, Oceano (Spa and Hotel) and housing for migrant farmworkers,” noted parent Terry Chatfield. “But we’ve built nothing for our own children.”
Opponents made a point to say they understood the need for housing for the developmentally disabled, but nonetheless maintained the Princeton plot behind the Half Moon Bay Airport is not the right place.
Lennie Roberts spoke on behalf of appellants and against the project, but said she had particular reason to sympathize with Big Wave supporters.
“My husband and I have a developmentally disabled adult daughter who lives with us,” she said. “We too worry about what will happen with her when we are gone.”