The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District board of directors last week approved the purchase of a 644-acre portion of the Johnston Ranch property in Half Moon Bay from the Peninsula Open Space Trust for $4.8 million.

The 868-acre Johnston Ranch property is open space located on the southern edge of the city and includes working agricultural lands. Once slated to be developed into a golf course and luxury homes, POST purchased and preserved it in two transactions taking place in 1999 and 2001.

The transaction represents a collaboration between the city and the two open space groups.

The city will continue to own the New England saltbox-style Johnston House located on the property. It has discussed a pedestrian and bike trail that will connect downtown Half Moon Bay with the Johnston House along Higgins Canyon Road, utilizing a series of easements.

POST, a private nonprofit land trust, will retain ownership of Johnston Ranch’s 224 acres of prime agricultural lands that have been farmed by the Giusti family for decades. POST says it intends to eventually sell the agricultural portion of the property to the farmer, subject to a conservation easement, protecting it from future development.

Midpen, a public agency, will own the undeveloped 644-acre Johnston Ranch uplands area.

Midpen will begin managing this area as part of its adjacent Miramontes Ridge Open Space Preserve beginning in December 2021.

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